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 Senior 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 Magazine, ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-0103
Published: 2014-07-29
WebAccess in Zarafa before 7.1.10 and WebApp before 1.6 stores credentials in cleartext, which allows local Apache users to obtain sensitive information by reading the PHP session files.

CVE-2014-0475
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple directory traversal vulnerabilities in GNU C Library (aka glibc or libc6) before 2.20 allow context-dependent attackers to bypass ForceCommand restrictions and possibly have other unspecified impact via a .. (dot dot) in a (1) LC_*, (2) LANG, or other locale environment variable.

CVE-2014-0889
Published: 2014-07-29
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in IBM Atlas Suite (aka Atlas Policy Suite), as used in Atlas eDiscovery Process Management through 6.0.3, Disposal and Governance Management for IT through 6.0.3, and Global Retention Policy and Schedule Management through 6.0.3, allow remote atta...

CVE-2014-2226
Published: 2014-07-29
Ubiquiti UniFi Controller before 3.2.1 logs the administrative password hash in syslog messages, which allows man-in-the-middle attackers to obtains sensitive information via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-3020
Published: 2014-07-29
install.sh in the Embedded WebSphere Application Server (eWAS) 7.0 before FP33 in IBM Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) 2.1 and 2.2 sets world-writable permissions for the installRoot directory tree, which allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio