New Botnet Targeting Minecraft Servers Poses Potential Enterprise Threat

Microsoft warns enterprises should pay attention to a new botnet used to launch DDoS attacks on private Minecraft Java servers.

screen shot of minecraft player joining a server
Source: theodore liasi via Alamy

The persistence and spread of a newly identified botnet targeting private Minecraft Java servers has far wider ramifications for enterprises than bumming out a Biome.

Microsoft researchers revealed in a report published Dec. 16 that this new botnet is used to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Minecraft servers, which might sound like kid stuff. But enterprises should take note because of the botnet's ability to target both Windows and Linux devices, spread quickly, and avoid detection, the Microsoft team added.

It starts with a user downloading a malicious downloads of "cracked" Windows licenses.

"The botnet spreads by enumerating default credentials on internet-exposed Secure Shell (SSH)-enabled devices," the Defender team reported. "Because IoT devices are commonly enabled for remote configuration with potentially insecure settings, these devices could be at risk to attacks like this botnet."

The threat researchers suggest that organizations harden their device networks against these kinds of threats.

The group's analysis revealed most of the infected devices were in Russia.

Enterprises Beware

Factors including the sheer number of potential server targets and the general lack of cybersecurity protections on private Minecraft servers make this botnet something security teams should take seriously, Patrick Tiquet, vice president of security architecture at Keeper Security, tells Dark Reading.

"The concern in this scenario is that there are a large number of servers that can potentially be compromised and then weaponized against other systems, including enterprise assets," Tiquet explains. "Gaming servers such as Minecraft are typically managed by private individuals who may or may not be interested in or capable of patching and following cybersecurity best-practices. As a result, this vulnerability could continue unmitigated on a large scale for an extended period of time and could potentially be leveraged to target enterprises in the future."

Beyond this particular malware, Microsoft's recommendations are a good idea for protecting the enterprise from all sorts of botnets besides just the Minecraft-focused sort, according to Vulcan Cyber's Mike Parkin.

"They're industry best practices — restricting access, changing default passwords to strong ones, enabling multifactor authentication, etc. — and should be implemented regardless," Parkin says. "While some of the techniques can be challenging to implement on some low-power IoT devices, deploying to best practices is the absolute minimum that should be happening."

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