‫ Tor network used to command Skynet botnet

 
ID: IRCNE2012121697
Date: 2012-12-11
 
According to "computerworld", Security researchers have identified a botnet controlled by its creators over the Tor anonymity network. It's likely that other botnet operators will adopt this approach, according to the team from vulnerability assessment and penetration testing firm Rapid7.
The botnet is called Skynet and can be used to launch DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, generate Bitcoins -- a type of virtual currency -- using the processing power of graphics cards installed in infected computers, download and execute arbitrary files or steal login credentials for websites, including online banking ones.
However, what really makes this botnet stand out is that its command and control (C&C) servers are only accessible from within the Tor anonymity network using the Tor Hidden Service protocol.
Tor hidden services are most commonly Web servers, but can also be Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Secure Shell (SSH) and other types of servers. These services can only be accessed from inside the Tor network through a random-looking hostname that ends in the .onion pseudo-top-level domain.
The malware behind this botnet is distributed through Usenet, a system originally built at the beginning of the 1980s as a distributed discussion platform, but now commonly used to distribute pirated software and content, commonly known as "warez."
The Skynet malware has several components: an IRC-controlled bot that can launch various types of DDoS attacks and perform several other actions, a Tor client for Windows, a so-called Bitcoin mining application and a version of the Zeus Trojan program, which is capable of hooking into browser processes and stealing log-in credentials for various websites.
The impact of botnets on the Tor network itself really depends on the scale of abuse, Guarnieri said. One feature of the Skynet botnet is that each infected machine becomes a Tor relay, which ironically makes the network larger and able to sustain the load, he said.
"One countermeasure that companies or ISPs could eventually enforce in their firewall is to drop all packets that originate from known TOR nodes, in order to minimize the amount of potentially malicious traffic they receive," Botezatu said. "Of course, they might also end up blacklisting a number of legit Tor users looking for anonymity."

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