back to article Cybercrime's bulletproof hosting exposed

Researchers at RSA have identified the network framework that endows some of the worlds most notorious botnets with always-on connections that are virtually immune from takedowns. At the network's heart are the servers that shepherd tens of thousands of infected PCs so they continue to send spam, spread malware and stay …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A different solution...

    Why don't the white hats release their own series of viruses/worms/malware that will, instead of infecting PCs, install AV software and all the latest security patches?

    1. Bill Neal


      What happened to confidence in products from names like Norton & McAffee? There is too much diversity to create an effective defense. When the cure is almost as bad as the disease, what is the answer?

    2. pitagora
      IT Angle

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      1. You can't fight a crime with another crime. It's illegal to infect somebody's PC, for whatever reason, even if you have good intentions

      2. AV companies that could do this if it was legal (which it is not) would not benefit from this. Their goal as a company is to make money, to pay salaries and dividends to share holders. They have to bring money home to their families. Nobody can afford to work for free.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A different solution...

      Either your tongue is in your cheek, or your head is up your...

    4. Anonymous Coward


      Because it's illegal?

      Will they take responsibilty if their "fix" take out an entire businesses sytems causing millions of pound of lost revenue.

      think before you post.....

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        think before you post

        Agreed, but trolls don't think.

        At least, not the way we do.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would imagine.....

    this actually is a very very dangerous game to after these people .I can imagine when they get too close the top people behind these bot networks are surely going to lash out and figure that if they take down the "hunters" they can survive ,and in that case they will go after them personally.

  3. henrydddd


    The nice people that run botnets have joined the ranks of romanticized criminals such as pirates and Bonnie and Clyde. Perhaps botnets can be thought of as being a form of cloud computing for criminals.

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects 1

      Arpanet design fault

      The trouble with the internet is that the original design was intended to stay up when all else failed.

      The only way to catch these fellows is to find the next ISPs or whatever they are going to turn to when the next lot get taken out.

      Just make sure each provider is looking out for a major surge of multiple desktop activity or whatever its called. Of course that would require the IT bods are awake and not distracted.

      So that means the crims will be looking at understaffed quasi government organisations like schools and hospitals.

  4. Bill Neal


    I remember a meeting in 2003 in which a US gov agent told us that as far as viruses were concerned, the quality had gone down while the quantity had gone up. For some reason, I just now realize why this happened. Creating these botnets is a much more profitable business than a "traditional" virus write & sell operation. While it may seem obvious now, at the time I wondered where all the skill had gone. Each day the tubes become a more corrupt place.

  5. Nexox Enigma


    Well for anyone that's got a BGP feed it's easy enough to null-route that group of AS numbers, or at least throw some extra monitoring to traffic headed there, as I know some people get a little touchy about blocking entire segments of the Internet...

    1. Nexox Enigma


      As far as I can tell all of there's just one /23 route being addresses by one of those listed AS numbers, the rest have had some /22 and /24 routes withdrawn over the last week, but other than that, nothing.

      Could be that isn't terribly reliable, but it seems like there's nothing actually going on with these networks.

  6. BuckBrinkley
    Paris Hilton

    Where are the vigilantes ?

    Ever since I first followed some malware into a rabbit hole in IRC and learned how it was working, I expected nameless groups to use those command and control channels to force cleaners to be installed and run on the target zombies. It's been years and I still haven't seen that happen. I have to wonder why. I've seen bad guys battle each other over control channel usage but no good guys.

    Meh, maybe I'm just not seeing it but it is happening. I certainly wouldn't publicize it.

    1. Blain Hamon

      The problem with being a good guy is that you have to be good

      I actually got to speak with one of the white hats, and they did mull over the whole, 'take over botnet, make it clean itself' idea. The problem is, as tempting as it is, removing a bot, even if it means a simple restart, puts them in the crosshairs of any lawsuit if things go wrong (And knowing how even tested patches can go haywire, they WILL go wrong). This was made even worse by the fact that some of the botnet zombies were hospital computers or other important systems. The only thing they could really legally do was to try to contact the already negligent companies, and hope they fix things.

      So where are the vigilantes? Well, they're gritting their teeth, smart enough to realize that the botnets are holding hostages.

      1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects 1

        Confusion he say

        Never ascribe to planning what you can put down to ineptitude.

        Do you think that botnetters would want to use functional tubes when there are any amount of hospitals using job creation IT understaffed staff?

  7. Herby

    It is all a game to everyone...

    A game of "Whack-a-mole". Hit it on the head, and it pops up somewhere else. Need everyone to get their hammer and strike at once. Maybe some day, we can hope!

    Now if someone gets control of the botnet and sends out a self destruct code, that would be really nice. Given the allowable methods of fighting botnets, this might not be to ethical (but it needs to be done!).

  8. drfreak

    Explains a lot about why they use IRC

    A lot of these command-and-control networks have their own private network of IRC servers established where the bots themselves join the network.

    IRC has long been known for its ability to self-heal if enough cross-server links are established. Using the infrastructure IRC provides is cheap and easy.

  9. Mikel

    Author understands a lot

    These researchers too.

    But there are a lot more layers to this onion than you think.

  10. Neal 5

    You don't need to wait/rely on AV companies.

    If you've the confidence to actually tackle the problem yourself rather than saying "not my problem/nothing I can do about it ", then any decent RootKit detector,knowledge of the Command Prompt and it's instructions, and a list of the files created by Zbot,Kollah, Pakes, PWSZbot, Banker, or Wsnpoem or any other name that Zeus goes by, can be manually removed. Helps too, if you're not afraid to modify the Registry manually as well.

    There is a plethora of information/analysis on this Bot freely available on the Web,and a plethora of commentards who claim to be Computer literate, take some active participation in the removal of the problem, and find something else to cry about.

    If you're not part of the the f+++ does that quote finish?

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Crims enjoy more resilient service than victims

    Then again they probably pay more for it.

    They can afford to.

  12. Paul Vail


    The issue isn't the botnet -- it's the user who buys the product.

    Where's a decent plague when you need one...

  13. Ross 7

    Wrong ppl with the right skills/resources

    Actually taking these things down and keeping them down isn't impossible, the problem is the people with the skills and resources to do it (AV etc) are exactly the people who can't use the techniques required due to the legal position.

    Blackholing etc is only ever a temporary measure - as soon as the CC chans are up again the bots will come home to roost. Modyfying the ring-0 code to bluescreen on bootup will force all infected machines to have a clean install, and will only deliver the payload on boot up, so won't damage running boxes. It's still very illegal however and not an option for the people in a position to do it.

    There is one *possible* option however - do the above to zombies in foreign lands with no extradition treaties, and where you don't have any plans to work/holiday/transit through. It's still risky, and I don;t see AV co's etc doing it (and I don't blame them either) but using the same weaknesses in the law to take down the botnets that the botherders use to run them has a certain irony to it.

    I guess we can but dream...

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    But do bots *have* a sleep command

    Because if they don't that idea won't work.

    I believe it would be the safest way to cripple a botnet.

    But here's a legal question. By *issuing* that command can it be said the whitehats have *legally* tampered with these machines.

    Thumbs down because it still sucks that the herders net is more reliable than their victims.

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