Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Triple-Barreled Trojan Attack Builds Botnets

Filed under
Security

Anti-virus researchers are sounding the alert for a massive, well-coordinated hacker attack using three different Trojans to hijack PCs and create botnets-for-hire.

The three-pronged attack is being described as "unprecedented" because of the way the Trojans communicate with each other to infect a machine, disable anti-virus software and leave a back door open for future malicious use.

"This is so slick, it's scary," said Roger Thompson, director of malicious content research at Computer Associates International Inc. "It clearly points to a very well-organized group either replenishing existing botnets or creating new ones."

According to Thompson, the wave of attacks start with Win32.Glieder.AK, dubbed Glieder, a Trojan that downloads and executes arbitrary files from a long, hardcoded list of URLs.

Glieder's job is to sneak past anti-virus protection before definition signatures could be created and "seed" the infected machine for future use. At least eight variants of Glieder were unleashed on one day, wreaking havoc across the Internet.

On Windows 2000 and Windows XP machines, Glieder.AK attempts to stop and disable the Internet Connection Firewall and the Security Center service, which was introduced with Windows XP Service Pack 2.

The Trojan then quickly attempts to connect to a list of URLs to download Win32.Fantibag.A (Fantibag) to spawn the second wave of attacks.

With Fantibag on the compromised machine, Thompson said the attackers can ensure that anti-virus and other protection software is shut off. Fantibag exploits networking features to block the infected machine from communicating with anti-virus vendors. The Trojan even blocks access to Microsoft's Windows Update, meaning that victims cannot get help.

Once the shields are down, a third Trojan called Win32.Mitglieder.CT, or Mitglieder, puts the hijacked machine under the complete control of the attacker.

Once the three Trojans are installed, the infected computer becomes part of a botnet and can be used in spam runs, distributed denial-of-service attacks or to log keystrokes and steal sensitive personal information.

A botnet is a collection of compromised machines controlled remotely via IRC (Inter Relay Chat) channels.

According to CA's Thompson, the success of the three-pronged attack could signal the end of signature-based virus protection if Trojans immediately disable all means of protection.

"These guys have worked out that they bypass past signature scanners if they tweak their code and then release it quickly. The idea is to hit hard and spread fast, disarm victims and then exploit them," Thompson said in an interview with Ziff Davis Internet News.

He said he thinks the attack, which used virus code from the Bagle family, is the work of a very small group of organized criminals. "There's no doubt in my mind we are dealing with organized crime. The target is to build a botnet or to add to existing ones. Once the botnets reach a certain mass, they are rented out for malicious use."

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Of course USA loses in cyber war - NSA and friends made sure it would happen

There is a reason why China and others are trying to move away from Windows to Linux and other alternatives, and it is not to avoid sending its hard earned dollars to Cayman Islands (or whatever tax haven Microsoft is using these days to collect the majority of its income. :) Read more

ASF publishes long-overdue Code Of Conduct

We pride ourselves at The Apache Software Foundation on our principles of "community over code" and "don't be a jerk". But, alas, we've been slow to codify some of these things in public. Part of this, I'm sure, is that it’s easy to think we all just know how we're supposed to treat people, and so you shouldn't have to say, right? Read more

Building a Healthy Web to Hand to Future Generations

The Mozilla project is dedicated to tackling these challenges. Our community makes Firefox products that are loved and used the world over, all in service of our mission to protect the Web. We are also hard at work teaching thousands more people how to help build the Web, developing innovative open source technologies for others to leverage, protecting individual privacy and establishing technical standards. Read more

Linus Torvalds Launches Linux Kernel 3.19 RC1, One of the Biggest So Far

The first Linux kernel Release Candidate has been made available in the 3.19 branch and it looks like it's one of the biggest ones so far. Linux Torvalds surprised everyone with an early launch, but it's easy to understand why. Read more