Botnet operators have also started using HTTP protocols for communications between the compromised machines and the command and control servers. As a result, it will become a lot harder to distinguish botnet activity from normal traffic going forward, Ramsey said.
Cybermilitias and cyberwarfare
Russia's military invasion of Georgia earlier this year was preceded by a meticulously planned cyberattacks against media and government communication infrastructure targets in the Georgian city of Gore.
A post-mortem by Secure Works shows that the attacks were coordinated among known hacking groups and military operators. The attacks included DDoS and cache-poisoning attempts targeting DNS servers for major Georgian networks. The attacks were launched from Russia's state-operated Rostelecom and Moscow-based COMSTAR networks, using the same tools and infrastructures that are being use by organized cybergangs to steal data and send spam.
At its peak, the amount of traffic directed at the targeted servers during the DoS attacks touched an astounding 80GB per second, Ramsey said. "That is the shock and awe version of cyberwarfare," he said. The huge success of the attacks is sure to serve as a model for similar attacks by nation states using cybermilitias, he said.