Microsoft Says Any Botnet Can be Decapitated, Destroyed
July 10, 2011 2:20 PM
comment(s) - last by
Microsoft blasted recent claims that the new TDL-4 botnet was indestructible. No botnet is impervious to decapitating C&C takedowns and a concerted attack, it states.
(Source: Google Images)
Company points to takedown of "indestructible" Rustock, Waledac as case studies in how to kill a tough botnet
Today, networks of malware infected computers called "botnets" are controlled by malicious masters to spread spam and orchestrate takedown attacks across the internet. The botnets are growing very, very well crafted, leading some to suggest that they may be "indestructible".
In response to one such claim by Dell Inc. (
) SecureWorks research Joe Stewart, who said that the
TDL-4 botnet was "pretty much indestructible"
, the senior attorney with Microsoft Corp.'s (
) Digital Crime Unit argued that claim is false and that any botnet is destructible.
Richard Boscovich comments in
, "If someone says that a botnet is indestructible, they are not being very creative legally or technically. To say that it can't be done underestimates the ability of the good guys. People seem to be saying that the bad guys are smarter, better. But the answer to that is 'no.'"
TDL-4 will certainly be a tough. The malware has infected 4.5 million PCs thus far, and embeds a rootkit deep in the hard drive, in the master boot record. The malware removes other pieces of malware found on the machine to avoid detection. And it uses peer-to-peer connections to update its list of command and control (C&C) servers, safeguarding the botnet from takedown of C&C servers.
However, Microsoft takes major issue with the idea that TDL-4 is indestructible. After all, Microsoft already killed a botnet called "Waledac" that used similar peer-to-peer updates. Waledac, known for sending up to 1.5 billion pieces of spam daily, was decapitated in February 2010 when a court order allowed Microsoft to cut off
276 domains associated with the botnet
Microsoft also used additional undisclosed measures (perhaps denial of service attacks) to make sure the peer-to-peer network was fully dead and unable to update the C&C information.
In March, with help from Microsoft, federal agents raided a hosting company, seizing servers responsible for the Rustock botnet. With the botnet brains decapitated, the botnet effectively died, taking half of spam in the U.S. with it. And in April Microsoft and federal authorities successfully
killed the 10-year-old "Coreflood" botnet
via a similar C&C decapitation approach.
Mr. Boscovich comments, "[Waledac] was a proof of concept that showed we are able to poison the peer-to-peer table of a botnet. Each takedown is different, each one is complicated in its own way. Each one is going to be different, but that doesn't mean that there cannot be a way to do this with any botnet."
Symantec security researcher Sergey Golovanod says the botnet is "practically indestructible." He remarks, "[TDL-4 is] the most sophisticated threat today."
However, even Dell backed off somewhat from their initial remarks, with a SecureWorks spokesperson saying this week, "Since mid-March 2011, Dell SecureWorks' CTU [Counter Threat Unit] research team has seen a significant decline in the number of attempted Rustock attacks, and we do attribute it to the comprehensive efforts of Microsoft."
Indeed Alex Lanstein, a senior engineer with FireEye, a security organization who worked with Microsoft on the takedowns says cooperation between Microsoft, other companies, and U.S. law enforcement agencies has proved integral to creating combined assaults capable of bringing down tough botnets. He states, "It's the trust relationships Microsoft has created and I think [the technique] speaks to any malware infrastructure where some kind of data feed exists. It really, really works. With the Rustock takedown, Microsoft has built the framework for others to do the same. This is definitely not the last botnet we're going to go after."
So, TDL-4 may be tough -- but "indestructible"? Not so much.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: I wonder
7/12/2011 5:53:53 AM
TDL-4 is still evolving, but
is the most effective fix I've seen. Fixmbr can be used, but it's fairly complicated and you still have to deal with the invisible filesystem, registry issues and infected files (there are also reports of bricked systems after running fixmbr).
The bigger problem is how to stop it "without" the client computer being patched. Not sure if keeping MS security updates current prevents the initial infection or not (anyone know?), but it's p2p capability is of concern.
Fixing the issue on systems left dusty is so very much harder, thus the Waledac technic. I did learn the hard-coded IP's in TDL-4 are for a single subset of the threat (which puts me back to worrying about C&C cycling). It's great reading the research on this disturbingly advanced malware. Kudos to MS for trying to find a way to crush it, 4+ million computers are running it right now. It's enough to make me think a "forced" patch might be acceptable in some cases...
“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
TDL-4 Botnet is Close to Indestructible Say Researchers
June 30, 2011, 11:26 AM
Ten-Year-Old, 2 Million PC Botnet Finally Killed; Stole up to $100M USD
April 14, 2011, 11:21 AM
Microsoft Granted Permanent Ownership of 276 Botnet Domains
September 9, 2010, 9:29 AM
Google plans ultra-fast wireless Internet for Research Triangle Park, N.C.
August 12, 2016, 6:30 AM
Twitter Senior VP: "Diversity is Important, But We Can’t Lower the Bar"
November 9, 2015, 9:59 AM
CNN Resorts to Internet Censorship to Promote Clinton Over Senator Sanders
October 15, 2015, 2:47 PM
Breaking Bad: How to Crash Google's Chrome Browser With Just 8 Characters
September 23, 2015, 11:08 AM
Quick Note: Amazon UK Offers £10 Back on Any Order £50 or Over
August 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Editorial: Reddit Allows Itself to be Hijacked as a Hate Platform For Racist Bigots
July 21, 2015, 6:32 PM
Most Popular Articles
Smartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
UN Meeting to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
September 21, 2016, 9:52 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Update: Problem-Free Galaxy Note7s CPSC Approved
September 22, 2016, 5:30 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Burlington Gun Attack
Sep 27, 2016, 5:00 AM
Who is in Risk of Getting Oral Cancer?
Sep 23, 2016, 6:02 AM
France Bans Plastic Eating Utensils in Restaurants
Sep 18, 2016, 10:49 AM
Progress Against Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Sep 17, 2016, 5:30 AM
Apple Watch Series 2 - Number 1 in the Customer Satisfaction.
Sep 7, 2016, 6:19 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information