Latest malware trick: outsourcing quality assurance

Malware distributors are outsourcing their quality assurance programs to services provided by the likes of virtest.com

Creators of Waledac malware enlisted the Conficker botnet as a tool to spread malware of their own, marking the first time Conficker was made available for hire, according to Cisco's mid-year security report.This was symptomatic of a wider trend Cisco noted of malware purveyors using established business practices to expand their illegal enterprises. Cisco likened the arrangement between Waledac and Conficker to a partner ecosystem, a term Cisco uses to describe its collaboration with other vendors.

Waledac used the Conficker distribution channel to send spam and to expand its own botnet, Cisco says.

Malware distributors are also outsourcing their quality assurance programs to services provided by the likes of virtest.com, Cisco says. For a fee the site tests malicious files against the latest versions of 26 virus-scanning software products to determine whether the anti-virus software can detect the malware.

Cisco says running the malware through this screening results in malware that is 10 to 20 times more effective than it would be otherwise, and frees up the attackers to work on other products rather than test how detectable their current exploits are.

The report pronounces rogue anti-virus the cybercrime product of the year. The software infects victims' PCs with a Trojan then offers to sell them anti-virus software . The Trojan displays warnings that a virus has been found on the machine and recommends anti-virus software to remove it. Victims pay for the antivirus via credit card and the symptoms of the infection go away.

However, Cisco says, the Trojan does not; it remains and could be reactivated. Separate from the Cisco report, some victims of the exploit report that unauthorized charges appeared on their credit cards after using them to buy the anti-virus software.

Cisco says it perceives cooperation among the security community as increasingly effective in fighting attacks. "One bright spot is that vulnerability and that activity has been off to a slower start this year compared to 2008," the report says. "This could indicate the security community is succeeding in making it more difficult for attacks to take root and grow."

Web sites that are infected to download malware to unsuspecting visitors will increase, the report predicts. These sites represent nearly 90% of all Web-based threats, the report says. Creation of botnets will be a particular goal of this type of malware, it says.

The report recommends that businesses maintain patches to fend off attacks. Educating employees about protecting their own identities and upholding corporate security policies is essential. At the same time, security executives should realize that insiders pose a great threat, especially when layoffs are threatened. Even those surviving layoffs employees may become disgruntled and try to steal data or disrupt corporate networks, the report says.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags botnetsmalwareconfickerWaledac

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?