Feeds

Conficker Group muses on hits and misses

New report puts whack-a-worm tactics to bed

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The Conficker Working Group has hailed its success in neutralising domains programmed to act as control hubs for the infamous worm, while lamenting its failure to mount a comprehensive clean-up operation against infected PCs or to bring its authors to justice.

Members of the Group reflect on the long battle against the infamous worm - which is inert, but still resident on an estimated seven million Windows PCs in 200 countries - in a (new report (pdf). It concludes that a “whack-a-mole” approach to fighting security incidents will not work, and the fight against malware should be viewed as a long-term battle.

Conficker first appeared in November 2008, prompting Microsoft and a consortium of the leading internet security providers including Trend Micro, Sophos and VeriSign to team up and fight the scourge. This was done chiefly through a combination of user education and by blocking or seizing control of domains that variants of Conficker were programmed to phone home for instructions on malicious activities.

Government bodies, ISPs and domain name registrars also got involved in the collective effort, which successfully prevented hackers from controlling the vast network of infected PCs they had established.

The effort was unprecedented at the time but formed a template for the later Mariposa Working Group, and a model for public-private partnerships against fast moving malware infections.

Rodney Joffe, senior technologist at Neustar and director of the Conficker Working Group, commented: “The Conficker Working Group was an overwhelming success in demonstrating how the global community, public and private, can (and should in the future) come together to combat common threats. However it is also a clear example of how this "best of breed" cooperation is generally powerless to stop determined attacks - Conficker remains undefeated, and no arrests have yet been made.

"The operation was a complete success; unfortunately the patient died,” he concluded.

Conficker (aka Downadup) initially spread using a then recently patched vulnerability in Windows Server Service to worm its way into insecure systems. The malware also spread via infected USB sticks, which became its main route of infection as time went on.

The malware's aggressive scanning routines created a great deal of collateral damage by flooding networks with bandwidth-sucking traffic. Early victims included the Houses of Parliament and the UK's Ministry of Defence.

Months later secondary infections began cropping up in a variety of hospitals. Infection of the network of Greater Manchester Police obliged the force to take the unprecedented step of suspending access to the police national computer, as a precaution against the further spread of the worm and pending the completion of a clean-up operation, for several days back in February 2010. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.