Feeds

Security bods mop blood, sigh: NEW CryptoLocker zombies? We don't see their kind

Not much, at least, since Feds chopped master's head off

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Infections from the infamous CryptoLocker ransomware have fallen off sharply since a takedown operation earlier this week, according to security researchers.

An FBI-led takedown operation disrupted the internet infrastructure powering the Gameover ZeuS botnet and the even more infamous CryptoLocker ransomware. Gameover ZeuS is a banking Trojan that's been around for years but more recently has been used as a distribution mechanism for CryptoLocker. The ransomware nasty is also capable of spreading using infected email attachments that pose as voicemail or shipping confirmations.

Danish security firm Heimdal Security - part of CSIS Security Group - estimates that 50,000 systems were getting press-ganged into the Gameover ZeuS botnet, with at least 1.2 million computers living as part of the zombie network in early May. This figure has shrunk dramatically since the takedown op, with a weekly run rate of new zombie drones in the low hundreds instead of tens of thousands, according to Heimdal Security.

Many Gameover ZeuS zombies were also infected by CryptoLocker, one of the zombie networks's main secondary payloads. It's therefore logical to infer that CryptoLocker infections have also taken a nosedive - or even flat-lined.

"After the operation, our intelligence now shows that the number of new infections per day has dropped significantly and now looks to be stable around zero, for now at least," Morten Kjaersgaard, Heimdal Security’s chief exec, told The Register.

"When and with what strength the infections pick up again, is hard to predict, but the risk of infection still exists. It is just like the flu, you can catch it because the virus exists."

Kjaersgaard urged web surfers to check their systems for infection by Gameover Zeus, using a tool supplied by Heimdal, or rival utilities. "As many people are still infected with Gameover Zeus P2P, which is also used to deliver the Cryptolocker ransomware, we strongly advice people to take the necessary measures to check if they are infected," he added.

Cops, aided by security researchers, have linked the distribution of Gameover ZeuS and CryptoLocker as the work of the same closely linked gang.

Thirty-year-old Russian national Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev has been charged with allegedly masterminding the distribution of the Gameover ZeuS and the even more infamous CryptoLocker ransomware. Bogachev has been placed on an FBI wanted list over the alleged cybercrimes.

Whatever the outcome of the case, or even whether CryptoLocker itself is revived, various cybercrooks are already hard at work developing CryptoLocker clones (examples here and here) and other strains of malware. And we also have the problem of machines already infected with CryptoLocker.

An estimated 234,000 computers worldwide, half in the US, have been infected with CryptoLocker since it first surfaced in September 2013. These infection have been used to bilk victims out of more than $27m (£16m), according to FBI estimates. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
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
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
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
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.