Vulnerabilities / Threats
3/18/2011
01:06 PM
50%
50%

Microsoft, Feds Knock Rustock Botnet Offline

Authorities confiscated equipment from seven Internet hosting facilities used by the botnet, which was responsible for much of the Viagra email spam on the Internet.

Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Top 10 Security Stories Of 2010
Microsoft and federal law enforcement authorities confiscated equipment from seven Internet hosting facilities across the United States on Wednesday, resulting in a takedown of the Rustock botnet.

Microsoft had filed a lawsuit in civil court against "John Does … controlling a computer botnet and thereby injuring Microsoft and its customers." The lawsuit was unsealed on Thursday by a federal judge, at Microsoft's request.

Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), said in a blog post on Thursday that "the Rustock botnet was officially taken offline yesterday, after a months-long investigation by DCU and our partners, successful pleading before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, and a coordinated seizure of command and control servers in multiple hosting locations escorted by the U.S. Marshals Service."

The operation to bust Rustock, which infected an estimated one million computers, built on knowledge Microsoft gained when it took down Waledac last year. "Like the Waledac takedown, this action relied on legal and technical measures to sever the connection between the command and control structure of the botnet and the malware-infected computers operating under its control," said Boscovich.

Security firm FireEye and the University of Washington filed declarations of support for Microsoft's suit, as did drug-maker Pfizer, since the bulk of Rustock's spam purported to sell drugs such as the company's Viagra.

In Pfizer's declaration, Patrick Ford, senior director in the Americas region for Pfizer Global Security, said that investigations conducted by Pfizer in the U.S. and France procured drugs advertised as Viagra via spam emails. In both cases, the spam emails resolved to the same Web site: doctorroe.com. The procured samples, which were tested at Pfizer labs, turned out to be either counterfeit versions from China and Hong Kong, or unapproved, generic versions from India.

Rustock first went dark on Wednesday, a development first reported by security writer Brian Krebs .

While many botnets serve as conduits for enormous quantities of email spam, of late Rustock was the most prolific, at times generating 2,000 messages per second. "For the last year or so, Rustock has been the dominant source of spam in the world, by the end of 2010, accounting for as much as 47.5% of all spam," said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst at Symantec, in a blog post. "At its peak it was responsible for more than half of all global spam."

But unfortunately, according to multiple security firms, Rustock's takedown didn't appear to impact global spam levels, which have remained steady, despite the takedown.

"The takedown of Rustock hasn't had much noticeable effect on the overall amount of spam tracked by MessageLabs Intelligence," said Wood on Thursday. "So far in fact, traffic looks normal."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8802
Published: 2015-01-23
The Pie Register plugin before 2.0.14 for WordPress does not properly restrict access to certain functions in pie-register.php, which allows remote attackers to (1) add a user by uploading a crafted CSV file or (2) activate a user account via a verifyit action.

CVE-2014-9623
Published: 2015-01-23
OpenStack Glance 2014.2.x through 2014.2.1, 2014.1.3, and earlier allows remote authenticated users to bypass the storage quote and cause a denial of service (disk consumption) by deleting an image in the saving state.

CVE-2014-9638
Published: 2015-01-23
oggenc in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (divide-by-zero error and crash) via a WAV file with the number of channels set to zero.

CVE-2014-9639
Published: 2015-01-23
Integer overflow in oggenc in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a crafted number of channels in a WAV file, which triggers an out-of-bounds memory access.

CVE-2014-9640
Published: 2015-01-23
oggenc/oggenc.c in vorbis-tools 1.4.0 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (out-of-bounds read) via a crafted raw file.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.