Thursday, January 15, 2009

Widespread Worm May Be Building A New Botnet

Kelly Jackson Higgins writes on Dark Reading:

A rapidly spreading worm infection may be a tool for building out a major new botnet, according to security researchers who have been watching the aggressive Confickr/Downadup worm multiply around the globe. The number of PCs infected by the worm has now reached more than 3.5 million, according to the latest count by F-Secure, while other researchers say it's closer to half a million.

Either way, security experts are anxiously awaiting the attackers' next move. They suspect a massive botnet is in the works, but so far the attackers haven't completely tipped their hand. The mere infection of so many machines that could then be controlled by a third party indicates it is indeed a botnet-in-progress, according to Damballa. "It's a close call. If it has the potential for a remote, malicious third party to do whatever they want, that makes it a botnet," says Paul Royal, chief scientist for the antibotnet company.

The code automatically generates domains that infected machines connect to, which could lay the groundwork for a botnet command and control infrastructure. But so far, there's been no official botnet activity. "The infected machines are looking at 250 different domains a day to try and download additional code, but so far all those domains we've looked at have either been unregistered, accidental random variations that happen to point to an existing site, registrars with a wildcard DNS for unregistered domains, or other researchers trying to get a count of the bots," says Joe Stewart, director of malware research for SecureWorks. And the fact that domains aren't actually set up means it's not yet ready as a botnet, he says.

"Whoever is behind this is not ready to deploy his or her code just yet. Maybe they first need to figure out how to get their botnet controller to scale to handle 3.5 million nodes," Stewart notes.

More here.


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