Feeds

Crooks can milk '$100k a day' from 1-million-zombie ZeroAccess army

Botnet herders upgrade malware, still making bank – Sophos

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The stealthy ZeroAccess botnet commands a zombie army of more than one million machines, according to new research.

A study by Sophos published last week reveals that the latest version of the malware, which is designed for either click fraud or Bitcoin mining, has infected more than 9 million machines over its lifetime. The infected population accessible to unknown botherders at any one time is estimated at around one million. Machines are lost to the botnet through clean-up action by users. But that's only a small concern to cybercriminals, who are raking in plenty of revenue through the zombie network they control.

"If running at maximum capacity, the ZeroAccess botnet is capable of making a staggering amount of money: in excess of $100,000 a day," Sophos estimates.

ZeroAccess first appeared on the scene around two years ago, in November 2010. Previous versions of the malware used URLs associated with the infamous Russian Business Network to spread hard-to-clean and stealthy rootkit functionality.

The latest variant of the malware differs from the previous versions in dropping some of the rootkit-style features. Even so, a white paper by James Wyke of Sophos on the botnet, "The ZeroAccess Botnet - Mining and fraud for massive financial gain, concludes that ZeroAcess is a persistent threat that is likely to hang around as an irritant for years to come.

"Although the network is peer-to-peer based, centralised servers are used to record installations and keep tabs on active infections. The authors take great pains to disguise network traffic to these servers as innocuous, ordinary traffic," Wyke concludes.

"Many aspects of ZeroAccess display the authors’ fondness [for] fall-back options and backups. There is always more than one way for ZeroAccess to start up on an infected machine; the droppers phone home in two different ways during installation; each time specific functionality needs a server address there is usually a backup address if the first cannot be reached."

A map of ZeroAccess botnet infections in Western Europe and the US, compiled by F-Secure, can be found here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.