The Kelihos/Hlux botnet operators did try to fight back: They pushed out a new version of their bot software, and halted their spamming and DDoS attacks. But that didn't stop the takeover: The only way they could have prevented the takeover would have been to create an update within 10 to 15 minutes, according to CrowdStrike's Werner.
"Overall, this second sinkholing was very successful," said Marco Preuss, head of global research and analysis in Germany for Kaspersky Lab. "And what was also interesting to us is that this approach shows that peer-to-peer architectures in botnets are not protected from sinkholing."
Now it's up to the ISPs to get their users cleaned up. "We will keep the sinkhole up as long a necessary so no one gets control again," Tillman said. "We are working to take measure to inform the affected ISPs [to contact] their customers. Hopefully, we will see a decrease over time [of infected bots].
"But this is not the ultimate solution. This gang has been in operation since 2007 ... we need changes to legislative systems to [enact] new laws against cybercrime."
[ An emerging botnet based in the Republic of Georgia has caught the eyes of security researchers. See New Botnet Emanates From Republic Of Georgia, Researchers Say. ]
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