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.

Mobile

Botnets Evolving to Mobile Devices

Millions of mobile devices are now making requests in what's described as "an attack on the economy."

Botnets have tended to hide in the nooks and crevices of servers and endpoint devices. Now a growing number are hiding in the palms of users' hands. That's one of the conclusions of a new report detailing the evolving state of malicious bots.

"Mobile Bots: The Next Evolution of Bad Bots" examined requests from 100 million mobile devices on the Distil network from six major cellular carriers during a 45-day period. The company found that 5.8% of those devices hosted bots used to attack websites and apps – which works out to 5.8 million devices humming away with activity that their owners know nothing about.

"The volume was a surprise," says Edward Roberts, senior director of product marketing at Distil Networks. The research team even took another sampling run to verify the number, he says. In all, "one in 17 network requests was a bad bot request," Roberts says,

Another significant step in the evolution of these bots is their use. The "traditional" use of botnets is as an engine for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or spam campaigns. These mobile bots, though, seem to be focused on a different sort of attack.

"It's an attack on the economy," Roberts says, describing the activity in which bots repeatedly scrape prices from a retail site so that a competitor can constantly match or undercut the price.

Another activity for these mobile bots is hunting through brand loyalty sites looking for login information so that premium products or "points" can be harvested for the botnet owner. A side effect of this type of activity is much lower traffic volume than that often seen in bot-infected devices.

"We only see an average of 50 requests a day from these devices," Roberts says. "The activity is low and slow and highly targeted." In this targeted activity, the nature of a cellular-connected device comes into play, as the IP address will change every time the device moves from one cell to another.

The one thing that hasn't evolved is the way in which the devices become infected, the report points out. Tried-and-true infection mechanisms, including malicious file attachments in email, infected files behind website links, and drive-by infections that use redirected links, are all commonly found. As with desktop and laptop computers, the researchers recommend anti-malware software and user education as primary defenses against infection and botnet recruitment.

Related content:

 

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas 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.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Commentary
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-20001
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.2.0, BinaryHeap is not panic-safe. The binary heap is left in an inconsistent state when the comparison of generic elements inside sift_up or sift_down_range panics. This bug leads to a drop of zeroed memory as an arbitrary type, which can result in a memory ...
CVE-2020-36317
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.49.0, String::retain() function has a panic safety problem. It allows creation of a non-UTF-8 Rust string when the provided closure panics. This bug could result in a memory safety violation when other string APIs assume that UTF-8 encoding is used on the sam...
CVE-2020-36318
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.49.0, VecDeque::make_contiguous has a bug that pops the same element more than once under certain condition. This bug could result in a use-after-free or double free.
CVE-2021-28875
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.50.0, read_to_end() does not validate the return value from Read in an unsafe context. This bug could lead to a buffer overflow.
CVE-2021-28876
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-11
In the standard library in Rust before 1.52.0, the Zip implementation has a panic safety issue. It calls __iterator_get_unchecked() more than once for the same index when the underlying iterator panics (in certain conditions). This bug could lead to a memory safety violation due to an unmet safety r...