Vulnerabilities / Threats
11/6/2009
03:04 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

New Spamming Botnet On The Rise

'Festi' quickly jumps from sending about 1 percent of all spam to 5 to 6 percent, MessageLabs researchers say

Upping its output of spam by nearly 5 percent in recent weeks, a new botnet called Festi has grabbed the attention of researchers, cracking the list of top 10 most prolific spamming botnets, according to Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence team.

Festi, which the researchers first started watching closely in August, is currently sending an average of 2.5 billion spam messages a day around the world -- mostly pharmaceutical spam, including male-enhancement and herbal remedies, as well as jewelry and watches. The botnet has apparently pumped up the volume of spam by recruiting more bots, about 60 percent of which are in Asia, 18 percent in Europe, and 9 percent in North America, according to MessageLabs.

And its spamming volume jumped significantly during the past few days.

"Festi had been fairly invisible in terms of the amount of traffic it was sending out -- each time we would look at it...it was not featured in the top 10 [spamming botnets]," says Paul Wood, senior analyst for MessageLabs Intelligence and Symantec Hosted Services. "We were quite surprised when it started increasing in significant volume over the last few days."

But while Festi's growth is impressive -- and it's now at the No. 5 slot -- it's still not in the league of the top five spamming botnets. According to MessageLabs, Grum accounts for 23.2 percent of all spam; Bobax, 15.7 percent; Cutwail, 11.1; Rustock, 10 percent; and Bagel, 8.2 percent. MegaD accounts for 6.8 percent of all spam, according to MessageLabs.

Joe Stewart, a researcher with SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit and a botnet expert, says Festi "looks like it's up-and-coming."

SecureWorks has a slightly different order in its top five botnets, with Cutwail at No. 1, followed by Rustock, Xarvester, Grum, and MegaD. Stewart says of the spam he monitors, Cutwail, which has a half-million bots, sends 65 percent of spam.

Festi likely infects its victims via drive-by downloads, Stewart says, and it's somewhere around 25,000 bots. Its malware is a kernel-based spam bot, too, which isn't typical. "It's a little unusual when you see a brand-new spam bot come out already using rootkit capabilities and running directly out of the kernel," Stewart says. "That suggests this person already [may] have...some experience with spam systems."

The good news about Festi is that it's mostly a spamming botnet, with no malicious, data-stealing malware.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-0334
Published: 2014-10-31
Bundler before 1.7, when multiple top-level source lines are used, allows remote attackers to install arbitrary gems by creating a gem with the same name as another gem in a different source.

CVE-2014-2334
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiAnalyzer before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

CVE-2014-2335
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiManager before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

CVE-2014-2336
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiManager before 5.0.7 and FortiAnalyzer before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2334 and CVE-2014-2335.

CVE-2014-3366
Published: 2014-10-31
SQL injection vulnerability in the administrative web interface in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted response, aka Bug ID CSCup88089.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.