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TDL-4 detects and disables other malware to hide itself

Over the last year, there have been a number of high profile takedowns of botnets. These takedowns lead to a significant reduction in the amount of spam that computer users see in their inbox.

Security researchers are talking about a new botnet called TDL-4 and they say that it is virtually indestructible. The designers of the botnet used some ingenious methods to ensure that their net isn't as easy to take offline as previous botnets.

Security researcher Sergey Golovanod from Kapersky Labs said in a report on the TDL-4 botnet, "[TDL-4 is] the most sophisticated threat today." Joe Stewart is a malware researcher at Dell SecureWorks, he said, "I wouldn't say it's [TDL-4] perfectly indestructible, but it is pretty much indestructible. It does a very good job of maintaining itself."

There are several factors that work together to make TDL-4 so robust. One of the factors is that the malware infects the master boot record of the computers HDD it resides on. This is the first sector of the hard drive read when a computer starts and the malware rootkit is installed there. That makes the rootkit invisible to security software and the OS.

The thing that makes the botnet even more robust is the method that it uses to communicate with infected computers from the command and control servers. The TDL-4 botnet uses a public peer-to-peer network called the Kad P2P network for one of the two channels it uses to communicate between infected machines and the C&C servers.

Kapersky researcher Roek Schouwenberg wrote in an email to Computerworld, "The way peer-to-peer is used for TDL-4 will make it extremely hard to take down this botnet. The TDL guys are doing their utmost not to become the next gang to lose their botnet."

The hackers behind the botnet also use their own encryption algorithm and use the domain names of the C&C servers as the encryption keys. The use of a public network is the key to the robust botnet and helps ensure the TDL-4 network remains online.

Schouwenberg said, "Any attempt to take down the regular C&Cs can effectively be circumvented by the TDL group by updating the list of C&Cs through the P2P network. The fact that TDL has two separate channels for communications will make any take-down very, very tough."

So far, the TDL-4 botnet is very effective with an estimated 4.5 million Windows computers currently infected. Stewart said, "The 4.5 million is not surprising at all. It [TDL-4] might not have as high an infection rate as other botnets, but its longevity means that as long as they can keep infecting computers and the discovery rate is small, they'll keep growing it."

Another key to the longevity of the TDL-4 malware is the fact that it finds and disables other malware on the computer. This is done because the less likely the user is to know of any infection on their computer, the less likely they are to investigate further and potentially discover the TDL-4 malware on the machine.

Golovanov said, "TDL-4 doesn't delete itself following installation of other malware. At any time [it] can ... delete malware it has downloaded."

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RE: Wow
By DarkUltra on 7/3/2011 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
I don't care how you build it, just don't use up all the space on my relatively small SSD drive. Windows 7 64bit HDD IO operations itself is so slow we need SSD drives to make it useful again. I see the same operations in xp vs 7 takes several times more time. Listing of folders, calculating size of a bunch of files, opening the same program that reside on the same partition in takes twice as long in 7 vs xp.

On a related note, I look forward to upgrading my computer to sandy bridge e, but there is no excuse to produce bloat. There are always developers willing to make something proper as long as theres a demand. I want my computer to be as fast and responsive as Windows Phone 7, windows 8 better have a lot of C++ and Direct2D.
inefficient way in which WPF uses Direct 3D
windows 7 vs xp slow GUI

RE: Wow
By EricMartello on 7/4/2011 4:05:59 AM , Rating: 3
I've always wanted to make an OS that is super light, but fully functional. I think Windows 7 is a lumbering behemoth because it's still maintaining backward compatibility and it never really had super-tight coding practices to begin with. That said, it's a fairly solid OS and I do use it, but it is far from what I would call optimized software. Imagine if all that bloat was eliminated...overall system responsiveness would improve, applications would run smoother and faster and it's likely that you'd get better gaming and entertainment performance as well.

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