Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

8/30/2018
05:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Botnets Serving Up More Multipurpose Malware

Attackers increasingly are distributing malware that can be used for a variety of different tasks, Kaspersky Lab says.

In a troubling trend for enterprises, an analysis of botnet activity in the first six months of 2018 shows that multifunctional malware tools are becoming increasingly popular among attackers.

Kaspersky Lab inspected more than 150 malware families and their modifications across some 60,000 botnets around the world and found that the share of multipurpose Remote Access Tools has almost doubled on botnets since the beginning of 2017 - from 6.5% to 12.2%.

The three most widespread of these RATs or backdoors—Njrat, DarkComet, and Nanocore—are all malware tools that attackers can relatively easily modify for different purposes or adapt for distribution in specific regions. Kaspersky Lab discovered Njrat to have command and control centers in 99 countries, mainly because of how easily attackers can use it to configure a personal backdoor with very little knowledge of malware development. Nanocore and DarkComet have C2 centers in over 80 countries for the same reason.

Similarly, Trojans capable of being modified and controlled by different command and control servers and used for different purposes were another category of malware that grew in Q1, though not quite as dramatically as RATs. Kaspersky Lab's analysis showed that the share of such Trojans increased from 32.9% in the second half of 2017 to around 34.3% in the first six months of 2018.

Over the same period, the proportion of single-purpose tools being distributed through botnets declined substantially. For example, the share of special-purpose banking Trojans distributed via botnets dropped over 9.2%, from around 22.5% in the second half of 2017 to 13.3% of all malicious files in the first half of 2018.

Similarly, the share of spamming bots, which are another category of single-purpose malware, dropped to 12.2% this year from almost 19% in H2 of 2017. DDoS bots—another category of single-purpose tool—followed a similar pattern dropping from around 3% in Q3 and Q4 last year to about 2.7% in the first six months of this year.

Botnets on a Budget

One factor driving the trend is the relatively high costs of operating a botnet, says Alexander Eremin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab. Bots can be costly, so botmasters are looking for every opportunity to make money from their malware tools. Multi-purpose malware allows bot owners to quickly adapt their network for different purposes: from delivering spam, for instance, to distributing banking Trojans and ransomware, he says.

"[The] trend is driven by significant botnet ownership costs. Criminals will attempt to take everything at the first chance," Eremin notes. "The emergence of multifunctional malware means that users need powerful protection as criminals try to steal users’ credentials, money, sensitive data, using the same malware sample."

Botnets increasingly are being used according to the needs of the operator at that time, so it is often difficult to identify the primary specialization of a botnet, he says.

The Kaspersky Lab report is the second in recent weeks to warn about an increase in multi-purpose and adaptive malware tools. Earlier this month security vendor Proofpoint said it had seen a recent increase in the use of modular downloaders that allow attackers to modify malware after it has been installed on a system.

Basically, the tools allow adversaries to fingerprint infected systems and then modify or update the malware based on items of interest that the downloader might identify on a system.

Modular malware like the multiple-purpose tools that Kaspersky Lab highlighted in its report this week is problematic for enterprises because of how it can be quickly adapted for a variety of different tasks.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
The Mainframe Is Seeing a Resurgence. Is Security Keeping Pace?
Ray Overby, Co-Founder & President at Key Resources, Inc.,  8/15/2019
The Flaw in Vulnerability Management: It's Time to Get Real
Jim Souders, Chief Executive Officer at Adaptiva,  8/15/2019
Tough Love: Debunking Myths about DevOps & Security
Jeff Williams, CTO, Contrast Security,  8/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5638
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
Rapid7 Nexpose versions 6.5.50 and prior suffer from insufficient session expiration when an administrator performs a security relevant edit on an existing, logged on user. For example, if a user's password is changed by an administrator due to an otherwise unrelated credential leak, that user accou...
CVE-2019-6177
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
A vulnerability reported in Lenovo Solution Center version 03.12.003, which is no longer supported, could allow log files to be written to non-standard locations, potentially leading to privilege escalation. Lenovo ended support for Lenovo Solution Center and recommended that customers migrate to Le...
CVE-2019-10687
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
KBPublisher 6.0.2.1 has SQL Injection via the admin/index.php?module=report entry_id[0] parameter, the admin/index.php?module=log id parameter, or an index.php?View=print&id[]= request.
CVE-2019-11601
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
A directory traversal vulnerability in remote access to backup & restore in earlier versions than ProSyst mBS SDK 8.2.6 and Bosch IoT Gateway Software 9.2.0 allows remote attackers to write or delete files at any location.
CVE-2019-11602
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
Leakage of stack traces in remote access to backup & restore in earlier versions than ProSyst mBS SDK 8.2.6 and Bosch IoT Gateway Software 9.2.0 allows remote attackers to gather information about the file system structure.