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Infamous botnet evolves

Controllers of the infamous Conficker worm released another update recently, shifting its update strategy towards a completely different direction. It no longer needs to check a web page to receive updates, as it can now receive them directly from other infected computers.

Additions to a lengthy, in-depth analysis of the worm by research institute SRI’s Malware Threat Center indicate that a new variant of Conficker was spotted on February 16, which it dubbed “Conficker B++” pending a further review of its capabilities.

Previously, computers infected with Conficker A and B – also known under the names Downadup or Kido – frequently check for updates from a randomly-generated list of 250 internet domains, which is synchronized and updated regularly between the entire Conficker botnet. Efforts from the Microsoft-led Conficker Cabal appear to have foiled this technique: the randomization algorithm was successfully reverse-engineered, prompting Microsoft and the Cabal to secure every domain the group expects the botnet to hit.

In response, Conficker B++ completely removes the need to check for updates, moving instead towards a structure that resembles a peer-to-peer filesharing network. A URL pointing to updated Conficker code – or a patched version of the Conficker binary – can be sent directly to infected machines through a pair of new backdoors that B++ opens.

SRI notes that while older versions of Conficker also had the ability to accept updates in this fashion, its implementation behaved in such a way that made recognizing the process a trivial affair for anti-malware software.

Conficker’s controllers, in an effort to prevent competing hackers from delivering patches of their own, digitally sign the entire update process.

Compared to the upgrade from Conficker A to Conficker B, writes SRI, the changes that Conficker B++ introduces appear to be a relatively “minor”. In-house metrics indicate that Conficker B++ had an “86.4% similarity” to Conficker B, with the update only modifying three of the original version’s 297 subroutines and adding an additional 39.

Conficker has become such a problem for businesses that Microsoft recently placed a $250,000 bounty on its creators, offering a share of the reward to anyone who can help track them down. In January, the worm spread so fast it infected 8 million business computers within a week.

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What a waste
By djc208 on 2/23/2009 7:00:38 PM , Rating: 4
I'm always amazed at the time and energy people will put into things that only hurt society. If they spent half that energy doing something constructive they'd not only help people but probably make a fortune as well. In the end it's just sad to see the oportunity lost.

RE: What a waste
By Ordr on 2/23/2009 7:15:39 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully the creator(s) will be imprisoned for a very, very long time and forced to pay for all the damage caused.

RE: What a waste
By xsilver on 2/23/2009 7:58:44 PM , Rating: 4
um the nazi's thought that the mass killings was doing the "right" thing too...

such is the nature of the human race.

oh and plus its also easier to destroy than to create.

RE: What a waste
By omnicronx on 2/23/2009 8:40:56 PM , Rating: 5
oh and plus its also easier to destroy than to create.
Except in this case he had to create to destroy.

RE: What a waste
By ViroMan on 2/23/2009 9:48:16 PM , Rating: 1
well yes but, creating a program to screw up other peoples lives is like raising a son who goes off to kill the enemy commy bastards and returns a war hero.(or so I imagine from there perspective.)

RE: What a waste
By mmntech on 2/23/2009 8:45:40 PM , Rating: 2
oh and plus its also easier to destroy than to create.

There lies the rub. Don't make the mistake that these people are geniuses because they're not. The only real work is creating the worm itself. Once the botnet is established, it does all the work of skimming off credit card numbers and sending spam. The developers just sit back and let the cash roll in. You don't have to buy anything, you don't have to hire staff, you don't need office space, you don't have to market or store products. It's the perfect business and easy money.

RE: What a waste
By GeorgeH on 2/23/2009 9:58:09 PM , Rating: 2
We don't live in a soporific world of sunshine, rainbows, and happy thoughts. As such, I'm glad there are people out there trying their hardest to screw with my PC - in fact, the more there are, the better. Why? Because their active presence forces more legitimate entities to produce better and more secure products.

If your immune system wasn't under constant attack by all sorts of devious little nasties, then the first time you encountered a cute, fuzzy little bug you'd end up fighting for your life instead of just shrugging it off.

RE: What a waste
By djc208 on 2/23/2009 10:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
True, but there are enough bad things out there to deal with without us adding to the load.

Besides there are victoms of both the devious little nasties and people trying to screw with your PC. We as a people may be stronger for their loss, but someone still had to lose.

RE: What a waste
By Yojimbo on 2/24/2009 2:35:54 AM , Rating: 2
oh that sounds very simple-minded. anyway, i'd be scared of a society where people put all their efforts into things that helped the society.. simply because it obviously isn't natural. it's natural for ants, but not for humans. if it ever comes to that it's through either doping, genetic modification, oppression, or a mixture of the three. besides, on a more practical and less philosophical note, i'll take inefficiencies in the system over complacency any day. of course, if you try to spin that in the light of what is good or bad, or rather right or wrong, you're gonna run into difficulties. bottom line is, you can go after people who wreak some havoc without asking "why do people do this?" as a precursor to saying "people shouldn't do this..we should stop people from doing this"..because the effects of the success of such wishes would be a lack of robustness and/or oppression. think of it in terms of a dynamical system. these are the truly enlightened concepts that need to be addressed, and not the "oh, we don't need religion" that seems to be flying around.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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