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Dronerunner Akamai Attack Charged

John Bombard, a resident of Seminole, Florida, has been charged for his alleged attack on service provider Akamai two years ago. Several big companies were affected in the attack, such as Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google and Symantec, the owner of SecurityFocus.

Bombard allegedly commanded the modified Gaobot botnet from an IRC server hosted his own domain

If found guilty, Bombard faces 2 years for each charge, and a fine of up to $400,000 USD.

Nessun Goes to Jail

In May 2004 IRC-Junkie reported about the ongoing problems for the IRCHighway network caused by DDoS. In June of this year Jason Michael Downey, known as Nessun and owner of the network Rizon, was arrested for these problems.

This PDF outlines the sentence Nessun heard on the 23rd of this month. We can read: “Jason Michael Downey, the operator of “bot network” of virus infected computers that he used to attack other computer systems, was sentenced to a year in federal prison today on his conviction for unlawful computer intrusion that caused over $20,000 in damages to other computer networks, United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy announced today.”

After the jail sentence Nessun will have a 3 year supervised period during which he will need to ask permission before he can use a computer. He will also have to pay $21,110 in damages to the (IRC) networks the DDoS was aimed at. Finally he will have to do 150 hours of community service and pay a $100 special assessment.

During speaking out the sentence judge Edmunds explained that computer crime has a serious impact on society and that a severe punishment was in order.

United States Attorney Stephen J. Murphy said, “The so-called “bot-masters” on the Internet should realize that attacking and damaging other computer networks through a bot-net can land you in prison.  We have the capacity to investigate and prosecute these high tech crimes and we will continue to do so.  I commend the FBI for the excellent investigative work they did in this case.”

McAfee: Botnets Threatens National Security

Remarkable news released by researchers from McAfee this week. Baylor and Brown, researchers at McAfee warn that the national security of multiple countries are threatened by the existence of botnets.

“A botnet of one million bots, with a conservative 128 Kbps broadband upload speed per infected bot, can wield a powerful 128 gigabits of traffic,” the whitepaper reported. “This is enough to take most of the Fortune 500 companies (and several countries) offline using DDoS attacks. If several large botnets are allowed to join together, they could threaten the national infrastructure of most countries.”

In the whitepaper, McAfee suggests that intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are the best way to prevent PC’s becoming part of a botnet.

Allysa Myers from McAfee’s Avert Labs believes a radical change in security strategy is necessary, such as only allowing known traffic to prevent all malicious traffic that can include attacks to overtake PC’s.

“Things are looking fairly grim as the rise in the number of variants of IRC bots has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. Strictly using string-based detection against the unending tide certainly appears to be a lost cause,” Myers said.

Drones, a Continuous Problem for Small Networks

In February 2006 IRC-Junkie featured an article titled “Help! My Network is in Servers.ini!”. In short, the article names one of the problems small networks engage when they become listed in mIRC’s servers.ini.

One of the major drawbacks is that not only humans use this file, downloading an up-to-date servers.ini is also one of the first things a newly installed drone is doing. And thus, attracting drones is one of the side effects that could cause a lot of problems that eat up valuable resources, which are often not really in abundance on small networks anyway.

The Beirut IRC Network for example started to gline about a 1000 IPs a day when they got first listed in servers.ini.

Tjerk Vonck, webmaster of, denied knowledge of any drone issues concerning servers.ini: “No. And really, I doubt there is such a problem”, he replied to IRC-Junkie.

Today IRC-Junkie received an email from SanitariuM who scripted a mIRC script that can gline drones on connection.  “Those numbers for those bear drones, as I can verify with sources, have grown to over 2 MILLION unique IP’s per year. Divide this out and it’s almost 5,500 drones with unique IP’s per day on each network. Each bot sends out at *least* 10 spams, so that’s 55,500 spams per day”, he writes.

Despite that drone nets increasingly make use of other protocols like HTTP and P2P type of networks they continue to plague IRC networks.

SanitariuM also brings a bit of good news however. “There are several ways you can detect and gline these things with 100% accuracy on connection. I’ve written a universal mIRC addon that’ll work on *any* network to pattern detect and gline these. Instructions for setup are very simple… change a syntax or two, oper it up, and away it goes.”

To not give away the pattern and make the maliscious users running the drones aware of how they are being caught, SanitariuM only gives out the mIRC script after validation of the user requesting a copy, and only after initial contact has been made in one of two channels. These can be found on Undernet (#SSnD) and DALnet (#Snoop).

IRC-Junkie advices common sense with loading scripts into any IRC client. If you are going to load a script not written by yourself, and you don’t posses the knowledge of checking it out yourself, let someone else do it. Especially if it is going to run on an opered client on a production network.

edit (13:00): 55,000 spamposts instead of 15,000, changed on request of SanitariuM (which I just quoted without checking the math ;) )

Major US ISPs Hijack IRC Server DNS

“I am writing to this list because I no longer know where to turn” admin Anthony from Ablenet started his email to the full-disclosure list. “Over the course of the past 2 to three weeks I have watched my services on the Internet become systematically blocked and redirected by no less than 3 major isps in their efforts to stop botnets from connecting to IRC.”

What happened was that three major ISPs (TimeWarner/AOL, Verizon and Cox) had set the DNS of the servers from Ablenet to resolve to their alternative IRCd instead of the actual IP, resulting in the users being redirected to the ISPs IRCd. Once connected to this IRCd they were being directed into a channel, where they would be presented by a list of commands intended to remove zombie software. For many years IRC was a popular place for dronerunners to control and command their dronenet from.

“Because we were hit by 3 major ISPs at the same time,” Anthony starts explaining to IRC-Junkie in a reaction, “… for a period of approximately one month, we have seemingly lost approximately 75% of our user base, who were either directly affected or peripherally affected and followed their communities to an unaffected network.

The action did not remained restricted to this relatively small network however, also 5 servers from EFnet were caught. One of them is, with Exstatica as its admin. He explained how he discovered his server was involved as well. “Yesterday July 22nd, The admin-body discovered that a handful of EFNet servers have been “juped”.  Not only have they taken the irc record, but they’ve also hijacked the SOA and NS records too.”

Anthony tried to contact the ISPs in question but got either no reply at all, or a standard message that resources were too limited to reply. Also Exstatica tried to contact the ISPs; “Yes I’ve tried, I’ve contacted the abuse team at cox, they’ve requested logs, which I provided in the first email, and then gave me a canned response that I need to check my computer for viruses.”

Anthony stressed the character of his network was far from being a rogue one that hosted drone networks. “Our network has always been one that relied on their communities, under the premise that people come to irc to share ideas, meet new people and to gather in their own communities.  We were never big on the notions of unnatural expansion, inflated, false communities or hierarchies. We’re tough on botnets and non-conducive to file sharing… We have (had?) literary communities, fan communities, hobbyists, gamers, etc; pretty much running the gamut of personalities.”

Both Anthony and Exstatica have considered legal actions. But as there is no monetary loss and it involves only a violation of the RFC specifications such an action will most likely not be very fruitful.

For Anthony and Exstatica there is one reason left to fight back however, stand for Net neutrality. Anthony: “I also hope that our representatives do something, regarding Net Neutrality, to prevent the monopolization of the Internet.  This could in some ways be compared to racketeering or a corporate equivalent of China’s restriction on the Internet.  I firmly believe this to be a constitutional violation to our right of free speech and if we do not act now, when do we act? When will it be too late?”

Reviewing the move from the ISPs, how many drones could have been caught is unknown, it can not be that much as most of the zombie software has since moved from IRC to use P2P and HTTP. Also the text commands can either be given in a private message, channel message or topic. Prefixes range from . to , to & and can be virtually anything, including the word of the command itself, remove, uninstall, etc.

Admins advice users to use alternative DNS servers if they experience these problems when connecting to their IRC network. Since the media attention on this issue started yesterday several DNS records have been restored, of course without an explanation why they have been hijacked in the first place.

Over the past few years this has happened a few times before, but never ona  scale as this move, and not involving networks as large as EFnet’s.

IRC-Junkie was unable to contact any ISPs named in this article.