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Australian ISPs unite to disconnect botnet zombies

Yesterday a group consisting of major Australian ISPs – amongst them are Optus, Telstra, Vodafone, AAPT, Virgin, Hutchison 3G as well as Facebook, Google and Microsoft – announced that they prepare “a voluntary industry code to come into force this year” which could mean that “Computers infected with viruses could be “expelled” from the internet”.

The Internet Industry Association, which is made up of over 200 ISP and IT-related companies, is preparing that code in response to an ultimatum of the federal government.

Even though similar efforts have been reported in the past, Australia advanced to be #3 regarding botnet activity worldwide – only beaten by the U.S. and China. Interestingly, Australia wasn’t even to be found in the Top10 of McAfee’s Global Threat report 2 years ago

The sheer abundance of potential victims also explains why it is relatively cheap – 25$ per install – to get malware such as fake anti-virus solutions installed on Australian computers.

The internet industry’s voluntary code of conduct is being pushed by the federal Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy which wants to make the ISPs contact offending customers first before stepping up to more drastic measures like reducing the customers speed or changing their password so they have to contact the helpdesk.

As a last resort, the customers connection will be terminated if they fail to clean up the infection in a given timeframe.

If this gets done right it could very well mean a new era for all of us, meaning less spam, DDoS and other common nuisances found on todays internet.

What do you think about that? Should other countrys follow suit?

IRC-controlled botnet SDBot is still going strong

Despite being already over 5 years old, SDBot and its variants are still going strong and haven’t followed the decline that other similar threats have taken.

Using IRC as a control channel for botnets is one of the older, possibly even the oldest method around – the newer bots most of the time use either P2P or HTTP for their control, allowing them to be stealthier and harder to trace back than their IRC-using counterparts.

But against all trends and all the hype over takedowns of big botnets of the recent years SDBot is still around and is now mostly being used to install pay-per-install software like fake Antvir and other malware. “A botnet owner gets paid to install malware on infected PCs. For instance, a FAKEAV creator pays the SDBOT gang, which already owns an IRC botnet and controls thousands of infected machines, to easily push the FAKEAV files to systems.” TrendMicro writes in their blogpost.

This is pretty big business, targeted installations of Fake AV products can earn the botnetters up to $150 – per user.

Why SDBot is still around is easily explained: It managed to be stealthy as it didn’t interrupt with the infected computers activities as much as its relatives.

TrendMicro notes “the only remaining question is, “Why use an ‘old’ technology such as an IRC botnet when lots of newer technologies can already be seen in the wild?” The answer is quite simple—because this kind of botnet is currently off the radar unlike several others (DOWNAD, ZEUS, WALEDAC, KOOBFACE, ILOMO, and PUSHDO), which are consistently being monitored by researchers. Using a simple but effective type of botnet makes cybercriminals feel like they are in “heaven.” They can opt to use not only one but several ways to spread malware.”

During their research they tried to track back to the origin of the botnet and stumbled upon the domains, and that are related to this malware. “These findings suggest that these threats could originate from the Albanian, Macedonian or Montenegro regions” they conclude in their paper.

TETOVO, 91200

To avoid becoming part of the botnet, TrendMicro advises to “not click links sent via IM applications, especially if you do not know who sent them, update your security applications regularly to decrease the chances of becoming infected” and not to “open unsolicited email or spam”.

Stay safe! ;)

psyb0t – A stealthy router-based botnet discovered [Updated]

The folks at DroneBL discovered and analyzed a router-based botnet that is suspected to have DDoS’ed them for about 2 weeks.

The bot software, named “psyb0t”, is the “first known botnet based on exploiting consumer network devices, such as home routers and cable/dsl modems”.

Exploiting routers is in some cases more “useful” than infecting PC’s – because “most people will keep the router on 24/7″ as opposed to their computers which “most people shut down [...] in the evening before they go to bed, or when they leave the office” nenolod writes.
In his paper (which was written back in 2006 and at that time he’s been “called looney for”) he also mentions another reason why targeting SOHO routers is a good idea:

Attacking the router will enable you to monitor network activity with a much higher level of stealth. As most people think the router is a dumb device which simply does NAT translation, it will not be considered a device with a high security risk. Most intrusion analysts at this time will not even consider the router as the place where the malware is hiding.

nenolod, amongst others, disassembled and analyzed the botnet binary, coming to the conclusion that the current incarnation we’re seeing now “was mostly a test botnet”. “Terry Baume discovered the first generation, which only targeted a handful of specific models. The current generation, would be the second generation, which targets a much wider range of devices”.

Version 17 of the malware contains “shellcode for 30 different linksys models, and 10 netgear models, as well as several kinds of cable and dsl modems (15 different shellcodes)” as well as a list of “6000 usernames and 13000 passwords” which is used for bruteforcing Telnet and SSH logins that are open to the LAN and sometimes even on the WAN side of those routers.

His efforts to shutdown the Command&Control channel the bot uses have been successful and the DNS, which has been hosted with, has been nullrouted. In a conversation held on IRC he also mentions that the “current version is version 18, but he [the author - ed.] has changed the way he obfuscates the executable” which formerly was packed using the UPX packer.

The now defunct C&C  was suspected to control “100,000 hosts at the moment, but the ircd does not give us any information”. The bot in its current incarnation does “hijack DNS for rapidshare” and “phishes login info” which leads nenolod to believe it is more of a proof-of-concept right now and is going to grow more sophisticated in the future. Asked about the origin of the worm he says that several traces point to Australia being the country of origin and given some reports of increased telnet activity there he could be right.

The bot is able to scan for vulnerable PHPMyAdmin and MySQL installations, contains an update function and the usual flooding functionality. It also disables access to the routers control interfaces using iptables rules, denying access to the ports 22, 23 and 80. Also, he notes that the bot is “not linux-specific, a couple of the routers we have seen in the botnet are running VxWorks.

Detecting the bot isn’t easy since you’d need to capture and analyze the traffic it sends and receives to find out if you are infected – which is impossible if the infected device does not have dedicated USB/Ethernet ports to configure them and it then “would require monitoring at the CMTS or DSLAM” level.

In his posting on the DroneBL blog nenolod writes that they “are looking into finding out more information about this botnet, and its controller. If you have any information, we would like to know.”

Update and patch your routers so they don’t swallow a blue pill :)


The botnet apparently has been shutdown by it’s owner:

* Now talking on #mipsel
* Topic for #mipsel is: .silent on .killall .exit ._exit_ .Research is over:
 for those interested i reached 80K. That was fun :) , time to get back to the real life... (To the DroneBL guys:
 I never DDOSed/Phished anybody or peeked on anybody's private data for that matter)
* Topic for #mipsel set by DRS at Sun Mar 22 17:02:15 2009

nenolod writes in their blog:

While this information may or may not be true, we have received HTTP-based floods from IPs participating in this botnet.

We are still interested in this DRS person. If you have any information, please provide it to DroneBL. We will not disclose our sources.

Further reading:

Another 100.000 Zombies Botnet bust

Yesterday, the creator of a Botnet consisting of more than 100.000 Zombies has been arrested. The 19-year old Dutch and his 16-year old brother are said to be the botmasters of what once was a botnet peaking 150.000 compromised hosts…

Also arrested was a 35-year old Brazilian that wanted to buy the botnet for his malicious activities – at the price of 25.000€ (US$37.290). The bust was a cooperation between the Dutch High Tech Crime unit and other international forces such as the F.B.I.

The botnet spread on Windows Live Messenger without the help of exploits but using a social engineering approach.

Would-be victims received a message from friends on their contactlist with a link and were asked to click on it – once infected they would then message their friends.

If you suspect to be zombified, one way to spot an infected machine is to check it for outgoing connections to the host “” on port 3306.

Antivirus company Kaspersky has put together a webpage with information on how to get rid of the bot – it however is advised to perform a full system scan with AV as well as spyware scanners since Shadow possibly also installed adware on the victims computer.

New Zealand Botnet Master Arrested

An 18-year-old New Zealand suspect has been arrested in a botnet case. He is suspected of controlling a botnet consisting over 1 million infected computers and having caused nearly 13.5 Euro million in damages.

The botnet consists of AKBot worm infected machines. The botnet has been used to attack IRC networks, security companies and the University of Philadelphia.

“He is extremely clever”, said Maarten Kleintjes, head of the computer criminality department.

He is also acused of leading a worldwide network called the A-Team with members from New Zealand, Holland and the USA. New Zealand police worked togheter with the FBI on this arrest, codenamed “AKILL”.

Thirteen more arrest warrants have been issued.