Feeds

Peer-to-peer update makes ZeuS botnets harder to take down

Not your father's zombie network

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A new strain of the ZeuS crimeware toolkit comes with a peer-to-peer design that lets infected machines bypass centralized servers when receiving updates and marching orders from operators, a researcher said.

The update to a custom-built ZeuS variant known as Murofet could make it harder for white-hat hackers and law-enforcement agents to disrupt botnets by eliminating centralized command and control servers they infiltrate or shut down, said the the researcher with Zeus Tracker, which monitors botnet communications. The researcher, who asked that his name not be included in this article, recently counted machines from more than 100,000 unique IP addresses infected by the custom build.

Zombies under the control of Murofet come with an initial list of IP addresses to query. They send UDP packets to those destinations over high-numbered ports and wait for fellow bots to respond with additional addresses that are also a part of the p2p network.

If the remote node is running a more recent version of the bot software, it then updates the other machine using a TCP connection. The p2p feature was added around the same time the malware scaled back its reliance on a domain generation algorithm, that allowed bots to connect to custom-registered domain names on specific dates.

The new capability gives the ZeuS offshoot p2p capabilities similar to those that Waledac, TDL-4, and other botnets have boasted for years. With the many other advanced features offered by ZeuS, it's surprising it didn't add it years ago.

The new architecture means Murofet no longer uses a static URL to download binary updates and configuration files, and that's likely to make the job of some researchers harder. But despite the new design, the ZeuS malware remains vulnerable, because it still relies on a central domain and falls back on the domain generation algorithm in the event connections to the main command server and p2p drones is lost.

"Its not impossible to track it, but its more difficult than before," the researcher told The Register over instant messenger. "I would say it makes tracking of ZeuS just more complicated but its not *the new super trojan*." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.