Botnets becoming more robust

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Dec 15, 2009

Zeus botnet used Amazon's in-the-cloud service to control bots.

New reports by MessageLabs and McAfee show that botherders have learned a lesson following the take-down of McColo in November last year.

McColo was a rogue ISP that was taken down after security researchers gathered evidence of suspicious activities on the provider's network, with the takedown depriving many botnets of their command-and-control centres. The result was that global spam levels dropped immediately and it took months for those levels to return to their previous heights. However, while other rogue ISPs have suffered the same fate as McColo, botnet owners have now found more robust ways to control their networks of infected machines.

One of the new techniques is to distribute command-and-control centres across various countries, making them less dependent on a single ISP. Some botherders have even started to use social network sites, such as Facebook, and micro-blogging services such as Twitter, to control their bots.

It is not surprising, then, to hear that the Zeus botnet has been using Amazon's EC2 cloud-based solution to control the behaviour of its bots. Researchers at CA have discovered that a trojan, downloaded by a user via a 'greetings card' email, attempted to send information to a URL at Amazon, trying to steal both the user's money and their identity.

Full reports from MessageLabs and McAfee, both in PDF format, can be downloaded here and here respectively, while CA's story about the use of EC2 by botnets can be found here.

Posted on 15 December 2009 by Virus Bulletin

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