It seems like botnets are getting more sophisticated – we thought the Storm Worm was pretty hot, but some of these new contenders are showing the guys on the dark side has some advanced understanding of technology and the architecture many companies use…this enables them to get deeper inside and remain undetected
Researchers have unearthed two previously undetected botnets that exhibit sophisticated new capabilities that could significantly advance the dark art of cyber crime.
One of them, dubbed MayDay by security firm Damballa, uses new ways to send and receive instructions to infected machines. One communication method uses standard HTTP that is sent through an organization’s web proxy. That allows the malware to circumvent a common security measure employed by many large companies.
Indeed, Tripp Cox, vice president of engineering and operations at Damballa, says he’s observed MayDay running inside some of the world’s most elite organizations, including Fortune 50 companies, educational institutions and ISPs. (He declines to identify them by name.)
It seems like the numbers are nowhere near as high as Storm, but with this advanced technology it might be hard to count. This new worm spends a minimal time connected to the control channel to ensure it avoids detection.
Some big (and important) companies have fallen victim to this, so they could be getting hold of some seriously juicy info.
The botnet also uses two separate peer-to-peer technologies so zombies can stay in touch with each other, presumably as a back-up measure in case the central channel is disconnected. One protocol communicates using the internet control message protocol (ICMP) and the other uses the transmission control protocol. The ICMP traffic is obfuscated so it’s indecipherable to the human eye. Damballa researchers are still working to figure out exactly what kind of information is being transported over the channel.
Up until now, the zombie army popularly known as Storm has been the 800-pound gorilla of the botnet underground. Having recently marked it’s one-year birthday, it is believed to comprise about 85,000 infected machines. It was responsible for about 20 percent of the world’s spam over the past six months, according to MessageLabs, which provides email and web filtering services to more than 16,000 business customers.
I would guess however the aim of these newer more sophisticated botnets is not for spamming, they should have something more nefarious in mind. Perhaps extortion, insider trading or even terrorism.
Source: The Register