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Botnet Crime Security IT

Rise of the Small Botnet 61

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-are-legion dept.
wiredmikey writes "Botnets controlled by criminal enterprises all over the world continue to multiply at a steep rate, and it is now arguably the smaller, harder-to-trace operations that organizations should be the most worried about. Not only are smaller botnets cheaper and easier to build out and operate, but criminals have already realized that large-scale botnet activity attracts unwanted attention, and not just of law enforcement."
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Rise of the Small Botnet

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  • Um - detectable depending on what they want to access. I've deployed a daily login attempt/file access logarithm that will alert me to any intrusion attempt - it doesn't really matter to me how many other servers the intruder attempts to intrude; in fact, I don't even look.

    • by pinkeen (1804300)
      Your users have to solve logarithms in order to access their files? No surprise that no botnet isn't interested in them either.
    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:49AM (#34024100) Journal

      I'm posting from ThePromenader's unmonitored servers.

    • As long as the intruder tries to use logins or file access...
    • Um - detectable depending on what they want to access. I've deployed a daily login attempt/file access logarithm that will alert me to any intrusion attempt

      What exactly do you consider an "intrusion attempt"? A failed SSH login? A suspicious script running on a website one of your users loaded? A phishing/trojan e-mail? An alert from the anti-virus (if you're running Windows)? How on earth do you browse through all those alerts, most of which can be ignored? Also, if you're working in IT, then you do care if they get into something. Obviously you would prefer it not be something like your main file server or something that stores sensitive financial/FERPA/HIPA

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ThePromenader (878501)

        The whole point of a cronjob log-combing program is to detect multiple failed login attempts across ~any~ protocol (I have open). When I do find a failed attempt, I do note it, but it is onlythe ~repeated~ attempts that I track down.

  • "The ability of defenders to thwart these attacks by over-provisioning their networks does not increase proportionally with the disruptive power of botnet-driven DDoS attacks, which will grow as more Internet users come online in developing nations and fast broadband connections become available more cheaply to home users that are less educated in proper security behavior."

    It seems that by now, people should be MORE educated about security and not less...but oh well.
  • If a botnet is small doesn't it contradict the very idea of a botnet? I mean it seriously limits its uses.

    From other story: I wonder how many unidentified large botnets remain out there.
    • Re:Small botnet? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wiredmikey (1824622) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:46AM (#34024048) Homepage
      Yes, but the larger the botnet it becomes more of a target for takedown. Running smaller botnets under the radar for a longer period of time can be more effective with less of a chance of being caught.
      • How do you define 'under the radar'?

        • He means what "under the radar" usually means: unnoticed by the authorities or those with the ability to stop you.

          • Does that include laziness?

            • No, what I meant was that 1) The authorities who might prosecute you are going after the bigger players and 2) Antivirus is less likely to detect threats that only affect a small number of machines.

              • Sorry, I wasn't imagining myself as the 'bot-sender' ; ) For the time being, I'm alerted to any multiple failed connection attempt (no matter what protocol, even http) - ...should I give the results of my foresighted vigilance to the antivirus/trojan/fear company (none to whom I subscribe) that I pay every month (that I do not)?

                The most effective anti-intrusion application I have seen out there is Cloudmark... never mind the MS platform. They've got the right idea, their idea can work for even for trojan/vi

        • by ascari (1400977)
          For a moment ignoring coordinate dependent things, how about "Not above or at the same level as the radar"?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You simply create another small botnet to manage the small botnet's..

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:46AM (#34024056) Homepage

    I know for a fact that Linux boxes, especially servers on the net, get compromised and used by criminals from unknown locations on the planet. But botnets are made almost entirely of PCs running Microsoft Windows. Whether it is the OS or the apps running on it or both are the ultimate cause, it all has MS Windows in common.

    All this botnet crap going on all over the planet could be halted in very short order if Microsoft would "man up" and do something about it. With every new release of an OS, it makes a choice and every time it has chosen to maintain the old ways instead of fixing the problems. Perhaps my perspective on this is a little wrong. I have not yet, for example, seen a compromised Windows 7 machine. (That's not because they can't be, it's simply because I haven't seen one yet and a lot of people don't want to use Windows 7.)

    If I was in control of a beef company and the bovine products I was distributing was tied to global illness and crap like that, there would be no end to the complaints and measures taken against me. But somehow, the world hasn't managed to point enough fingers at Microsoft demanding that they do something about the problem. The only finger pointers are pretty much the IT crowd and no one listens to us. It is fascinating to me because the problems with compromised Windows machines has massive economic effect which, as we all know, is far more important than global health and general public safety.

    • by ka9dgx (72702)
      It's not about Microsoft having to "man up"... it's more about a structural flaw in the basic paradigm we all know and love... the idea of running everything a default permissive environment. Until capability based security is put into common use, this problem will NEVER go away.
      • by erroneus (253617)

        Agreed. Microsoft needs to essentially dump the Windows API. For obvious reasons, they don't want to just dump it. But this sort of move would not be unprecedented. Apple did it when it came out with Mac OS X. Sure they wrote a "Classic" support layer and it was buggy as hell. People complained to hell and back about it. But in the end, that only served to fuel the migration from "classic" apps to OSX apps. If Microsoft were to do that, we would see a much more energetic migration from Windows XP to

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          So yeah, Microsoft needs to do what Apple did. Dump the old, force the new and get it over with.

          Who would buy Windows if it didn't run Windows apps?

          • by delinear (991444)
            Who is to say it wouldn't run Windows apps - what's wrong with including some kind of virtual machine running a previous version for backwards compatability? I can already run Windows apps on Mac/Linux using this method, I'm sure MS could include a free license. They could even make it a business opportunity if they made it a limited time functionality to ease the transition (i.e. we'll support this for X years, then you have to buy new apps or your own old Windows license).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c6gunner (950153)

        it's more about a structural flaw in the basic paradigm we all know and love... the idea of running everything a default permissive environment

        Even that's largely irrelevant. Back when I had a botnet or two of my own, I didn't really give a damn what kind of permissions they had as long as they were capable of accessing the net. Firewalls set up to stop programs from dialing out didn't seem to be much of an issue - the average user would just click "allow", anyway. The biggest problem has always been - and will continue to be - ignorant or uncaring users.

    • by Spad (470073) <<slashdot> <at> <spad.co.uk>> on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @10:07AM (#34024302) Homepage

      The vast majority of current exploits are targeted at applications, rather than OSs; primarily Acrobat Reader and Java at the moment.

      Regardless, no OS can overcome the problem of permitting users to carry out administrative tasks without allowing them to execute malicious code when they really, really want to see the dancing bunnies.

  • If you think that's bad, just wait until the self-aware temporary infection botnets come out.
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:47AM (#34024080) Journal

    To really do damage to a webserver, you need a large botnet [slashdot.org].

  • Organizations shouldn't be worried about small botnets simply because they haven't attracted the attention of law enforcement -- they should be afraid because their antivirus won't have a signature for the malware being propogated by small botnets. And what's the point of advising organizations to be worried about small botnets? Fear doesn't increase security.
    • by ascari (1400977)

      Fear doesn't increase security.

      Agreed! And besides, those tiny little botnets are so damn cute they don't scare anybody!

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @10:06AM (#34024298)

      Fear actually does increase security... well... in a way.

      Consultants call this fear "awareness". And if you want a general group to implement any measures, you have to "create awareness". It's a well-known fact.
      So, because of the awareness, security measures are taken.

      Not only the cyber security, but also physical security (security companies and weapons industry) thrive because of the awareness of all kinds of problems (security leaks, terrorism, etc).
      The real question is: is the threat as big as it is portrayed?

    • by Spad (470073)

      No, it increases sales.

  • Size matters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:53AM (#34024148) Homepage Journal
    For some of the botnet activities, size matters. If want to steal cc numbers or passwords, being in more places mean more chances to get something useful. Other common use of botnets is sending spam, where more machines=better (harder to block because the numbers, and less chances to fill the bandwidth of those computers, and be noticed because that, if want to send a lot of spam).

    Instead of just going small, there are 2 tactics that could be used by botnets: try being more stealth (i.e. sending out information only when the user does), or resizing by quality of the machines they run on (i.e. stay active only in machines where actually they are putting credit card info, or their spam is not being bounced, or having better bandwidth)
    • The problem with this is that botnets have to come from ~somewhere~ - and that somewhere can be detected. It's what they're trying to ~do~ - and how often - that is important. I suppose the whole point of the article is that bots are becoming less 'intensive' - we have to spread our intrusion dectection defenses to detect attempts spread over a longer period of time, that's all.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      It's not so much the size, I think, but the density.

      If every house in a neighborhood has a small ant colony, they are all more likely to go unnoticed than if one or several houses has a large and obvious colony. Likewise, if only half the houses in the town have small colonies, they're more likely to be OK than if all houses had an infestation.

      There are quite a few ways to be 'stealthy'. Some would be method/mode and 'intelligence' to infection of hosts. (Eg. semi-random, selective within subnets, distribut

  • Fighting chance (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hesaigo999ca (786966)

    I had a heated debate once with a colleague, about how botnets operate, and he was under the impression they were all script kiddies with no morals, and just wanted to thrash all websites and infect everyone.... I tired to let him know, they were people (higher ups) with organization skills of real companies, with real business sense, using techniques to covertly avoid detection. I even heard of one botnet that would send out a few emails from each computer a minute, not more....to avoid sending up flags th

  • If the botnet is for churning out large volumes of spam then a large, distributed net is better. Traffic will be lower at any one node for the same total volume. If the botnet is to be used for targeting specific installations or types of installations (ala Stuxnet) then smaller is better. The more infected nodes you operate, the greater the likelihood of detection.

  • How do we know the criminals haven't just gone bigger scale? Why settle for a giant botnet when you can run a botnet full of tiny botnets? Is the attention attracted from seeing the same code on thousands of machines, or from seeing the same attack from thousands of machines? Why run DDoS attacks when you can run multiple exploit attacks instead on multiple networks to throw off any sign of a large coordinated attack?
  • Instructions for Linux, but can be modified to suit *BSD, some other OSes. Remember, with firewalls fascism is good.

    1. install and configure denyhosts http://denyhosts.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    2. use the reporting/updating feature of denyhosts to coordinate and sync botnet-dropping with other denyhosts users
    3. write a script or daemon that checks for updates to denyhost's hosts-restricted file and then tells your iptables firewall to drop all packets to and from those hosts

    Example of iptables firewall config file wi

    • Of course this assumes that the botnet attack is a standard SSH-based one. Also the # RESERVED_HOST=$(cat /var/lib/denyhosts/hosts-restricted|awk -F ":" '{print $1}') line needs to be uncommented.

    • by kefa (640985)
      Does anyone know where the download is for Denyhosts v2.7? This is listed in the changelog for Deny Hosts, but SourceForge only has v2.6 available for download, which I believe still has a minor log injection DoS exploit.
  • Couldn't it be possible to have a botnet upgrade into different versions, allowing it to split?

    Clarification:
    Virus writer releases virus A and sets up control server A.
    Botnet A gets large, and the writer is worried about authorities, so he sets up servers B and C, as well as writing two updates.
    Botnet A gets update B or update C from control server A.
    The update installs the new virus and removes the old one.
    Botnet B gets large, virus writter sets up servers D and F.
    Process continues.

    If it's split before the

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