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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
10 Ways to Keep a Rogue RasPi From Wrecking Your Network
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/10/2019
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
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-2019-0234
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A Reflected Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability exists in Apache Roller. Roller's Math Comment Authenticator did not property sanitize user input and could be exploited to perform Reflected Cross Site Scripting (XSS). The mitigation for this vulnerability is to upgrade to the latest version of ...
CVE-2018-7838
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-119 Buffer Errors vulnerability exists in Modicon M580 CPU - BMEP582040, all versions before V2.90, and Modicon Ethernet Module BMENOC0301, all versions before V2.16, which could cause denial of service on the FTP service of the controller or the Ethernet BMENOC module when it receives a FTP C...
CVE-2019-6822
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A Use After Free: CWE-416 vulnerability exists in Zelio Soft 2, V5.2 and earlier, which could cause remote code execution when opening a specially crafted Zelio Soft 2 project file.
CVE-2019-6823
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-94: Code Injection vulnerability exists in ProClima (all versions prior to version 8.0.0) which could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system in all versions of ProClima prior to version 8.0.0.
CVE-2019-6824
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-15
A CWE-119: Buffer Errors vulnerability exists in ProClima (all versions prior to version 8.0.0) which allows an unauthenticated, remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted system in all versions of ProClima prior to version 8.0.0.