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New ZeuS Botnet No Longer Needs Central Command Servers

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the andromeda-strain dept.

Botnet 137

c0mpliant writes "Researchers at Symantec have identified a new variant of the ZeuS botnet which no longer requires a Command and Control server. The new variant uses a P2P system, which means that each bot acts like a C&C server, but none of them really are. The effect of which is that takedowns of such a network will be extremely difficult because there is no one central source to attack."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

jperl (1453911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158049)

finally

They still need a C&C (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158069)

If you want to actually control the botnet, you do need a C&C. What this setup might achieve is the obfuscation of the command flow so the C&C is much harder to identify.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158113)

Don't confuse logic with sensationalism. "Security journalists" understand computers about as well as the average Facebook user.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158181)

The article is not wrong. There is no need for a C&C server, which doesn't mean there aren't people with computers controlling it...

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158581)

The article is not wrong. There is no need for a C&C server, which doesn't mean there aren't people with computers controlling it...

Exactly. They can put instructions out on the P2P network and it will just look like another infected machine "sharing" with it's brother bots.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158301)

While we're on the topic, don't confuse malware writers with "security experts". Security experts understand security about as well as Symantec.

Blow Job Bar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158115)

Ever go to the Blow Job Bar in Bangkok, Thailand?

You can sit down at the bar and order a beer, and you can have your dick sucked by a teenage prostitute for a nominal service charge. Heh, nominal. Nom nom nommin' on my knob. That's what I paid for at the blow job bar in Bangkok, Thailand as a sailor in the U.S. Navy 20 years ago. God Bless America.

Re:Blow Job Bar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158175)

I haven't, Thai girls aren't my thing, too jungle-y looking. I prefer Vietnam, but even more so, mainland China. Prices are about the same, but better looking. Hell, if you pay enough you can kill the girls when you're done. Nobody cares about them in the small villages, and they all have their price...

-- Not American, British. God save the queen!

Re:They still need a C&C (5, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158125)

If my understanding is correct, the entire Zeus network now communicates amongst itself. There's no intermediate sites, IRC channels, twitter accounts, etc.
This also means that any infected machine can act as the C&C. If that machine gets taken down, all the zeus authors need to do is use another node and keep going. It'll be extremely difficult to trace where the commands are genuinely coming from unless they happen to have access to the C&C server that originally sent the command, then hope that some sort of trail has been left - not an easy task, really

Re:They still need a C&C (3, Interesting)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158187)

I think it's worse than that. If it works with the scheme fasttrack (for example) uses, you'd need to get the people behind the computer to actually kill it. Even if they get the original machine, they can just switch places and keep going (since there is no single point of failure, from what I read).

Re:They still need a C&C (4, Interesting)

Ramin_HAL9001 (1677134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158237)

But on the other hand, you still need to issue commands to the C&C. If you can figure out the communication protocol used to assign C&C powers to a node, then security researchers can easily toss-out the command to become a C&C to all nodes and then sink-hole it.

Further, I am not aware of any way to encrypt communications between the botnet's controllers and the botnet's nodes because every node will need to have the private key to decrypt incoming communications. So anyone can analyze a node and just pick out the private key, and then start issuing commands to it as though they were the operators. It just adds bulk to the botnet code, and doesn't prevent anyone from sink-holing it.

I think the real difficulty is simply containment. If the virus is designed to spread as rapidly as possible, then you need to spend a lot of time finding nodes and taking control of them to shut them down. I think the designers of ZueS are counting on that, and hope sheer numbers will be better than more precise control.

Re:They still need a C&C (3, Insightful)

jonamous++ (1687704) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158259)

What if the commands need to be signed?

Re:They still need a C&C (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158335)

What if the commands need to be signed?

Have you forgotten that a new story relating to how to crack RSA/AES faster than before surfaces about every 6 months?

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158793)

That's not a serious answer. 'Faster than before' is meaningless in practical terms when the time to crack is going down from twenty times the life of the universe to five times.

Re:They still need a C&C (0)

Ramin_HAL9001 (1677134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158361)

If the signatures need to be verified by a signature authority controlled by the attackers, it would be much easier to find out who is issuing the commands, just trace all communications back to the signature authority. And a communication to the signature authority would happen every time a command message needs to be verified by one of the nodes.

Otherwise, the commands must be self-signed, so an ordinary man-in-the-middle attack on any one the nodes could reveal the signature to you. You could do it as soon as you are able to capture a signed command message to any one of the nodes, which are probably broadcast like chunks of a bit torrent -- if so, then these messages are pretty easy to find once you have enough nodes because the signed command message will be replicated so often. Then, just decrypt the signature with the private key you extracted from one of the nodes, and start issuing your own self-signed command messages.

But I have never done anything like that before, it is probably much more difficult than I am making it sound.

Re:They still need a C&C (5, Insightful)

irtza (893217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158491)

There is no need for a private key for the signature nor the need for a signature authority. If I were to give you a public key and I sent you a signed message, you could verify the message came from me as long as my private key was hidden from a third party.

This setup still requries C&C software, but as long as the C&C software is not distributed, each node can not initiate a command, but can propogate an already signed one. There would need to be a program that can insert a new signed command, but that need not be on every node. It would be much like gnutella - maintain a list of nodes to connect to and if you get in, you isue your command - disconnect from the network and you can reconnect at will from another IP address.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158807)

You really are not thinking in peer2peer terms. It's not peer to peer if there is any central authority, and there is no need for one anyway.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158841)

"signature authority" How do you trace that ? It would be similair to a selfsigned certificate used with HTTPS.

The public key is obviously part of the software, you can't man-in-the-middle that. Why would there be a private key in the bot software ?

The issuer of the commands just connect to one of the nodes in the P2P-network and creates a command and signs his/her command.

It is much more likely they made an implementation mistake though, that is usually how these things get cleaned up.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159259)

if you don't know what you're talking about, why talk?

Re:They still need a C&C (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158355)

You're still thinking in terms of a C&C, when it doesn't apply anymore. Think of it more like a contagion, there's no "C&C" humans only people in contact with other people in contact with yet more people. There is no command to become a C&C. Commands are encrypted but also signed by the operators and nodes only have the public key to that so you can't fake one. They can just introduce a command anywhere, to any node and it'll relay it to its peers, that'll relay it to it's peers again amd so on until everyone got the command. You probably use a unique ID to avoid loops, like command 0xfe36735b I've already relayed, no need to relay it again.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158953)

I don't know about this.

It seems like "Campaign Contribution" is the command to become a Human C&C.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

mycroft16 (848585) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159139)

So, would they be able to monitor the traffic and watch for new commands spreading and track the route those are coming from to find the computer that the new C&C stuff is flowing from? Seems like it would be hella difficult and time consuming, but possible.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

CxDoo (918501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160285)

I get the p2p part, encryption & so on, but how does one peer find out where are the others?

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158373)

You can simply send the public key in order to verify a signature by a private key. And there are ways to negotiate a secure exchange using only that. If they did things right, this thing is unstoppable unless ISP's get in on the action by disconnecting the infected nodes.

Re:They still need a C&C (4, Insightful)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158459)

I'm not sure about your comments re: keys.

It seems relatively easy to design a botnet to be peer to peer and yet not able to be taken over by a rogue node. Consider a P2P overlay network where each node plays "chineese whispers" and forwards any packet to all neighbours (with some TTL limit).

The botnet owner creates a public private keypair, and uses his private key to sign control messages. Each host takes each incoming packet and checks if it is signed by the botnet-owner, which requires the public key of the botnet owner, and is built into the code. If someone reverse engineers a node, all they have is the public key, so can't sign messages (since signing requires a private key).

An attacker could still DoS this network with unsigned Control messages, but that can easily be thwarted by:
a) never forward any unsigned message
b) forward signed messages only if it's version number is higher than the last forwarded message.

To hide himself and operate the network, the botnet owner can use TOR or some other anonymising service to connect randomly to any node in the network (rather like utorrent DHT does), and send a signed control message with a version number higher than any seen before by the network.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158479)

By the way, I think you were mixing up encryption with authentication. You are right that the control messages can't be encrypted, since they must be able to be decrypted by any node in the network, and hence security researchers have access to whatever key they are encrypted with, and can also decrypt them.

They can however be signed (authenticated) to prevent anyone but the real botnet owner from sending them.

(note, all of this is assuming assymetric (eg. RSA) cryptography - where one key is used for encryption, and another for decryption, or equally one key for signing, and another for validating)

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158873)

They could still use Diffie Hellman key exchange to bootstrap the encryption. You might be able to decrypt the traffic to/from a node that you have control over, but you won't be able to see the traffic between other nodes.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158647)

If they were smart, they would have used public key cryptography to ensure that only commands signed by the bot-net author will be accepted. Assuming the RSA key is strong enough, it would be impossible for anyone else to send commands short of an as-yet-unknown weakness in RSA or a bug in the bot-net code.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160123)

"If they were smart"
I think the designers who created the bot have already shown how smart they are. These guys are also continually trying to improve their bot designs based on the number of computer systems they have successfully penetrated and the feedback they get back from those who detected it.
The real question is can someone design a bot that nobody can detect until after it has already infected millions of machines? There is a already a window of time between detection and creating counter measures. The harder it is to detect and create countermeasures the more time for the bot to work. It's also got to the point where those tasked with fighting these types of attacks have a hard time figuring out a solution that will not adversely impact any other legitimate programs. Just the regression testing must be a bitch.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160183)

They've been at this for quite a few years and have gotten very good at it.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

wer32r (2556798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158657)

Further, I am not aware of any way to encrypt communications between the botnet's controllers and the botnet's nodes because every node will need to have the private key to decrypt incoming communications. So anyone can analyze a node and just pick out the private key, and then start issuing commands to it as though they were the operators.

The botnet nodes/controllers would theoretically only need the public key of the person supplying the commands. If the commands are issued with a unique, verifiable sequence number (i.e. concatenated with the node's id), it would be practically impossible to issue false commands.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

wer32r (2556798) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158729)

...given that the message itself is signed with the person issuing the command's private key. (forgot to add to parent)

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159907)

Yep, I was about to hit you on that :P

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158777)

You seem to be missing the fact that the nodes don't all need the same keypair, each node can generate it's own keypair like every other bit of software which uses private key encryption.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159219)

Wrong -- the way to do is every node has the public key. The owners keep the private key. The nodes pass instructions around the network. Any node can submit an instruction to the network so the owners can use any node. Each node verifies the instruction is legit by the fact that it decrypts with the public key. Ideally the owners would just many different nodes to place new instructions on the network; that would help prevent security people from finding the source so easily. Another feature would be propagating messages that don't decrypt as well, treat them as noops; but pass them along anyway so people can't redially identify central distribution points by just analyzing network traffic. Nodes would at random but infrequent intervals introduce fuzz messages of that sort onto the network.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158233)

Probably ANY machine that sends a C&C message ... which is properly signed ... can control it. Instead of the botnet "phoning home", the C&C has to find them. They could probably be spraying their scent around at random, and C&C messages sprayed at random are likely to find an eventual target.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158739)

I'm still studying the details, but either by now or by the next iteration, you can strike the term "C&C" from your vocabulary.

Basically, if you used signed commands, the humans controlling the network can inject their commands anywhere and it'll simply spread through the network.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159593)

ZeuS became self aware on February 25, 2012. That's what they'll teach. Are they sending terminators back in time to try winning the war?

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160203)

ZeuS only runs on Windows. This problem will solve itself.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158133)

Fasttrack (Kazaa) or skype are not tied down to one server. The only centralized source in those, I believe, it's the log in... But I don't think these require that.

On the other hand, spreading information through the network could be slow, making it less efficient.

The only way the RIAA stopped kazaa was by exploiting their checksum algorithm to difuse bogus info. But I don't think that is an option. On the other hand, it should be possible for anyone to give orders to this botnet if they know the "key" to order them around... But if done right, that should be impossible.(or highly improbable)

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158199)

True, but unlike a p2p network a botnet has to be directed. If the network were truly decentralized, any machine could command it, thus anyone could steal it. My guess is that in order to prevent hijacking the commands are signed by the C&C, and then distributed through the network. This way, the origin of the commands becomes very hard to trace, but this method also introduces some vulnerabilities. For example, as each infected machine connects to a number of other ones, getting a list of infected machines would be fairly easy. You just need to deliberately infect a honeypot, and you can already detect a lot of infected machines. So it might be more effective to change tactics and try to remove the infection instead of targetting the head.

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158343)

But knowing the infected machines was never the problem. Spamm e-mail brings with it the address... But you can't really go knocking down doors forcing people to scan their computers. That's why the black holes were designed, you wouldn't invade anyone's privacy but at the same time take them down.

Now, either the ISP's start disconnecting people that are infected, or you seem to stand no chance against it. But I believe new legislation will have to be drafted if we are to start disconnecting people off the internet for virus infections...

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159317)

The answer is people need to be held accountable for their machines. The Internet is a public good just like roads. We don't let you operate an unsafe vehicle on our public roads, you can't operate an unsafe computer on our Internet.

If you machine is spamming or propagating malware yes your access should be terminated until you fix it. Just because someone else may have done the damage by infecting your box does not mean you are not still obligated to fix the problem, just like if someone smashes your head lights while you car is parked some place YOU still have to fix them.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160247)

This would be a good system if we could GET to that point where we're not taking down 30% of machines because they're infected by malware, but given our current situation, I think the biggest problem is not how we maintain a safer internet, but how we can clean up all those dirty machines in the first place.

You need a decent amount of technical expertise to secure machines and keep them secure. Unlike cars, the default configuration of computers is bad, there is no cheap way to maintain their security except to do it yourself, and it's hard to tell the difference between an unsafe computer and a safe one quickly.

In addition, most people can't even tell what behaviors break their computers.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158145)

Oh, and before you answer, not that it mentions a C&C server, there is no need for a server in this - just someone with a computer and the right access.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158149)

The question is how easily will the ZeuS botnet be hijacked by someone else?

Re:They still need a C&C (2)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158171)

Most likely depends on the key scheme they used and how they "protect" it. But standard public key encryption schemes should give anyone a run for their money for a few years...

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

testostertwo (1203692) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158497)

Indeed. Furthermore, I look forward to the version that is able to make use of trusted computing architecture to get remote attestation that what it is talking to is an untampered-with bot. That should be an interesting day.

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160267)

That seems completely unlikely. That would require their software to be signed. The whole point of trusted computing (well, at least one of the points) is that random rogue players can't release "trusted" software.

Re:They still need a C&C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158481)

When you think about it that's pretty sick. Whoever is behind that is one pretty smart dude. How much longer before we see imitators I wonder? Shoehornjob

Re:They still need a C&C (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158515)

Actually, I don't think so, because the "Master C&C" can change constantly and still maintain the connectivity.

Logical evolution (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158147)

The scary thing is that they are about a decade behind with this step. This is just a logical evolution they likely found in the literature and implemented because the conventional way did not work very well. Of course this just means the the C&C control flow is obscured with techniques from anonymity technology.

  It is time for some more drastic legal measures, like punishing operators and makers of insecure software and systems.

Re:Logical evolution (2)

segin (883667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158183)

That would punish me for running Mac OS X 10.3.9 on my iMac G3. Why should the law require me to use Linux? Hell, with some of the legal suggestions floating around on here, it would be illegal for me to use this machine for anything at all, due to an low watt-per-FLOP ratio.

Slashdotters are killing my childhood, not 4chan.

Re:Logical evolution (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158269)

I was not aware that Mac OS X 10.3.9 running on iMac G3 was vulnerable to botnets. But if it is, then you need to take that up with the maker who left you vulnerable to these legal liabilities. If you buy a car with no brakes and drive it out on the highway and crash into someone else, YOU are at least equally liable. Drivers on the road have the responsibility assigned by law to be sure they are operating a safe vehicle. Operating an unsafe computer on the internet should be just as much a responsibility.

Re:Logical evolution (2)

segin (883667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158375)

If I interpret your remarks correctly, you're suggesting I should unplug (or heavily firewall, even more so than the NAT I use today) my iMac because Apple no longer pushes security updates for it, or be or else be criminally liable.

Those laws are ideal, but would never be enforced anyways. What police officer wants to spend hours at a time checking the versions of each and every installed software application to verify that a machine is "secure"? And how many of the 245 million Internet users in the United States are going to constantly check the vulnerability disclosure lists to know when to uninstall/upgrade software to maintain compliance? I suppose it would mean a return to 1974's small ARPANET with a few thousand users across the nation.

Re:Logical evolution (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159355)

If I interpret your remarks correctly, you're suggesting I should unplug (or heavily firewall, even more so than the NAT I use today) my iMac because Apple no longer pushes security updates for it, or be or else be criminally liable.

Criminally liable no but it should be against the civil code just equipment violations on a motor vehicle are. Firewall, patch, replace the equipment, disable vulnerable services, fix the problem however you like; but you are not entitled to degrade the public network. If you are found to be than you should be made to do something about it or stop using it.

Re:Logical evolution (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159931)

So, you'll punish everyone in the US, but then you discover the world is round and actually quite big. And that it doesn't really matter if you control the US computers when everywhere else no one passed legislation on that and the unsecure versions would keep existing.

The only way to stop something like this is to heavily educate people. But who's going to pay for that? Who's going to profit? No one

Re:Logical evolution (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160329)

So is Microsoft still responsible for existing Win 95 machines that can't be patched?

Computer security isn't that mature yet. When cars started out, they really WEREN'T that safe, and it would've been unenforceable to force car makers to make cars all that safe.

I'll agree that unsafe computers these days are a much more widespread and possibly more harmful issue now thanks to the internet, but you shouldn't assume you can fix it just by choosing someone to take responsibility and punishing them if they don't/can't. That would be like punishing teachers if they can't clean keep the inner city neighborhood they work in free from adolescent gangs.

Re:Logical evolution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158193)

Oh no, man... you got it wrong. Microsoft is the victim of their own popularity. There's nothing they can do to make their OSes secure. That's why Windows 7 is just as insecure as the initial release of XP prior to any service packs. Because MS's place in the market hasn't changed from No. 1, Win7 is just as insecure!

Re:Logical evolution (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158277)

If there is nothing Microsoft can do (which I actually very seriously doubt), then no one should be using it. If a car manufacturer regularly made cars with brakes that did not work, people should not use those because they would typically lead to accidents that harm others, for which the driver has first and equal liability, under law. Same should go for a computer. Just because the maker doesn't know how to make it work right is not a valid excuse (it is a valid case for the buyer to sue the maker, if they claimed it would work).

Re:Logical evolution (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158569)

I like your analogy.

But I do think that MS could do far, far better, but that would cost money and they have a near monopoly anyways and they are not liable for any damage their insecure systems cause, so why bother?

Re:Logical evolution (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158575)

That tired old argument has been shown to be invalid a long time ago. And Win7 is more secure. They just moved up from ridiculous security to bad security. They could do much, much better, but there is zero motivation for them to do so.

There's TONS U can do (to make ANY OS more secure) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159785)

For Windows, I've been writing up such guides since 1997 to present, ala -> http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22HOW+TO+SECURE+Windows+2000%2FXP%22&go=&qs=ns&form=QBLH [bing.com] & YES, it really does work (on very common-sense principles too largely, & largely with tools ALREADY PRESENT in the OS itself).

(The originals are from 2001 -> http://www.neowin.net/news/apk-a-to-z-internet-speedup--security-text [neowin.net] & from as far back as 1997 -> http://web.archive.org/web/20020205091023/www.ntcompatible.com/article1.shtml [archive.org] )

Yes - The same goes for Apple/MacOS X:

http://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=12616 [sans.edu]

And, yes - The same goes for Linux variants:

http://www.bing.com/search?q=%22HOW+TO+Secure+Linux%22&go=&qs=ns&form=QBLH [bing.com]

* NONE OF THEM SHIP AS SECURED AS IS POSSIBLE "outta-the-box/oem-stock" is why... & as you can see? Folks in the community out there (like myself shown above) for years have been putting out guides for securing Windows (and the same goes for MacOS X &/or Linux too) - &, per the single example above from Apple? So do the oem's of these OS!

APK

P.S.=> The OEM's of these OS ship them that way so that "things just work right off" when you setup your machines & Operating Systems is my guess, but... it's "on you", as the end-users, to do the rest typically's all!

... apk

punishing makers of insecure software (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158249)

Since no 'user controlled hardware' is 100% safe you propose TPM *everywhere* so users can no longer control anything. ( or have no computers at all )

No thanks.

Re:punishing makers of insecure software (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158561)

Nobody competent talks about 100% security (whatever that means), but systems that are very easy to hack are just not acceptable and those making ans operating them should be liable for any and all damage caused.

Re:punishing makers of insecure software (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158719)

"easy" is an abstract concept that can only lead to complete TPM.

Re:punishing makers of insecure software (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159533)

Nonsense. TPM does not make software more secure by the way. Maybe read up on the concepts you are throwing around here?

Re:Logical evolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158319)

Insecure is relative. Computers and systems have the same problems as the security of a country. You are calling for a TSA like approach for software and systems. The only 100% secure device is one with no human interface device, no ports to allow new data (no net, USB, CD-rom, etc.) and maybe not even a power cord.

The most popular systems will have the most viruses written for them. Look at Windows. Now look at the reports of Apple OS viruses popping up as that system was becoming more popular. If everyone surged to Linux there would be a surge of viruses there too.

Then you get into the operators. Not everyone can be trained to be 100% knowledgeable in every up or downside on the net. The only system that would work is some type of licensing like with cars. Oh wait, we have idiots who talk, text, eat, put make up on, drive drunk, and all that already with that program.

Then you run the risk of having only official and approved operating systems. And FDA of sorts for computer systems...

*pauses* Are you trolling? I mean, you are effectively asking for a series of laws that would not just put us on the road to a "Right to Read" future, but hang up the street signs and lighting as well.

Re:Logical evolution (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158547)

Nobody requires 100% security. That is just stupid. But systems that can be automatically hacked and easily enough to make large bot-nets a reality are just a disgrace. These systems are so easy to hack, it does not even require intelligence and that is what needs to change. Without laws to enforce that change, vendors like Microsoft will always only deliver the worst quality they can still get away with, and that is pretty bad. Software with reasonable security level would require attackers to invest years of work for automated hacking tools to be workable. They would probably not invest that much time. And it would be relatively easy to patch the software afterwards to make al that work worthless. Not so today: Hacking these systems is easy and they stay vulnerable. Bot-bets are only possible because security is abysmally bad and it is time to change that.

Re:Logical evolution (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159267)

What people like you do not seem to remember (or maybe you are too young?) is that before Windows had a TCP/IP stack, even before Trumpet Winsock, that Unix and VMS systems were notoriously exploited. Check the history of CERT advisory listings and its nothing but Unix and VMS systems being exploited until a phase change occurred when Windows PC's began to so overwhelmingly dominate the internet.

History proves it. [cert.org] Some of the folks here born before 1975 know this to be true, because we were the ones breaking into Unix and VMS systems because back then. The majority of the internet was Unix so that was what was targeted. Now the majority of the internet is Windows and that is again what is targeted.. and now the owners of these systems are far less sophisticated.

Re:Logical evolution (2)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159517)

What are you blabbering about? Because VMS and traditional Unix could be broken into, we do not need better security today? What kind of broken reasoning is that? And what about all the advances in software engineering and also secure software engineering (mostly ignored in practice and academic curricula)? People will not start to do better until there is significant incentive to do so. Software can be written so that it is really hard to break into. It is just more expensive.

So, while you may consider yourself a hacker of the first hour (we had some of them in our CS course back then, all except one pathetic losers that could not hack the math and algorithm courses) don't you notice that these problems should have been fixed in the meantime?

Well put/excellent (mind if I use it sometime?) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159895)

Good job: Unfortunately, you can point out the OBVIOUS to the "Pro-*NIX zealots" & 'penguins' around here, and with facts as you have... they just do NOT want to hear it (ala Jack Nicholson's Colonel Jessup in "A Few Good Men" in that "They can't HANDLE the truth!" etc./et al).

* Bottom-line: Fact is, Your post & facts with it cleanly & clearly illustrate that malware makers go "where the crowds of users are", just like pickpockets in crowded malls, cities, & train/bus stations etc. (& today + for the past 22++ yrs. or so now, that's been on Windows/Microsoft Operating Systems)...

(I.E.-> The more popular you are, the more likely you will be to be attacked/victimized...)

APK

P.S.=> Per my subject-line: You've made my "favorites" bookmarks section called "QUOTES I CAN USE" in fact, with your rather excellent points (from documented earlier than Windows being "top-dog marketshare-wise: history no less) + facts backing them!

Yes - IF you don't terribly mind?

Well - I think I may be able to one day use your statements + facts cited @ some point in fact (especially around here) & yes...

(Lastly - I am one of those "born before 1975" and I actually DO remember (ala Robert Morris & his worm, 1st ever was on a UNIX, as a "prime-example thereof" as far as malware attacks on popular platforms & who had them 1st (NOT Microsoft products)))...

... apk

Re:Logical evolution (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158731)

Popularity only means attractive target. Vulnerable is not related to popular except that it also makes the target more attractive.

The gold in Fort Knox is attractive. However, the security of Fort Knox is so unattractive that it offsets the attraction the gold has to would be thieves. The result? Crooks knock off small banks instead. The money is only attractive if it's reasonably easy enough to get.

Microsoft's market share on the desktop has not changed in a significant way. Yet, most agree that Windows has become more secure despite the fact that we've been told by idiots like you that it was impossible because of their market share lead.

Installing AV and security products doesn't effect OS market share either but most agree that it improves security. Again, market share is just a small part of of the equation.

Adobe's Flash and PDF viewer were very widely deployed and have never been secure, ever. They were largely ignored up until Microsoft started making their browser and OS more secure. At that point we saw malware shift to Adobe products. They didn't suddenly become more popular back at the end of 2009 when researchers projected Flash and Reader the new attack vector of choice. The MS vulnerability well was drying up. It wasn't a shift in market share. It was a shift in security. MS got some and Adobe didn't.

Considering the rapid growth of Chrome, why aren't security researchers saying it's the next big attack vector? It certainly has experienced a "surge" in popularity.

Re:Logical evolution (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159949)

It's also not reasonable to expect every bank in the US to have the security of fort knox. It would both be impossible for the bank to do business with customers if it was a three hour ordeal anytime someone wanted to make a deposit in the bank. As well as impossible to fund the amount of time and resources to secure them all.

In the same way, it's completely unreasonable to expect every windows machine in every home in the world to have the kind of security say... the personal desktop of a security researcher has. Or the mainframe that processes transactions for Visa.

Cause and effect (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158235)

The more you press on shady people the more they will work around the restrictions.

Its an endless cat-mouse game. And we are the losers.

Re:Cause and effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159939)

I for one welcome our new botnet overlords.

The Daemon ! :) (1)

Valtor (34080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158305)

It's the daemon!

http://thedaemon.com/ [thedaemon.com]

Excellent book by the way. :)

All botnets have one C&C (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158317)

micro$oft.com

Can someone explain how this actually works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158397)

I don't fully understand how a 100% P2P system is possible. Surely you have to know at least one peer to start off with. Is there a list in the software or something? If this is the case can't they be taken down?

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158583)

Who would say? A white hat wants it contained until a countermeasure is available. A black hat wants the competitive advantage.

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158755)

You don't need that if the bot simply broadcasts any control message it receives to a known port on any computers it can find (without caring whether they are infected or not or whether the message got through). If enough machines are infected (and if the bot-net masters send the new message to enough initial known-infected hosts) then the message will be disbursed widely enough that most of the infected hosts will pick it up.

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39158857)

You mean like find hosts by bruteforce? Doesn't the botnet have to be huge for that to work?

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (2)

berzerke (319205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159339)

...any control message it receives to a known port on any computers it can find...

That's something the original article doesn't mention: Is the listening port on an infected computer static or not? If it's static, then a simple, and therefore quick, nmap scan of an IP space will reveal possible infected hosts on a network. You'd need to do further investigation to weed out the false positives, but it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a fingerprinting query to further narrow it down. Depended on how well it's set up, just looking for nginx Web servers may be enough to get a good idea of infected machines.

If it's random, then look for port scans coming from infected machines. Still would be some false positives, but you can narrow down the list fairly quickly.

If the listening port changes daily, hourly, etc. based on a formula, then you'll need to reverse the formula. And it would have to be based on a formula for the other nodes to find it without the noise of a port scan. But once you do reverse it, then you're effectively back to the static port scenario.

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158875)

Assuming it's self-spreading (through email, IM, etc), the instance sending those copies can put its own IP/port on the news copies, which will then communicate back to it. They can also then share the new IPs of those copies with the other nodes they're already connected to.

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158951)

That was my thought too, if the methode of spreading includes the IP-address of the originator and/or several peers that would be one way to bootstrap the P2P system.

Re:Can someone explain how this actually works? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159137)

I don't fully understand how a 100% P2P system is possible. Surely you have to know at least one peer to start off with. Is there a list in the software or something? If this is the case can't they be taken down?

In the same way AIDS is possible... Whoever infected you is your "at least one peer". But unlike AIDS that one peer sends you a list of peers it knows about and your machine does the same. Then you have a huge web of infected peers with huge amounts of redundancy. Plus there is probably a random IP search function if all the peers in the list are gone where the system just randomly sends udp messages until it gets a hello I have AIDS too here is my list of partners.

*yawn* (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158589)

This comes as a surprise to anyone? Really? I attended conferences almost 10 years ago listening to and giving speeches about stuff like this. The technology is trivial, the only reason the bad guys haven't moved to the hardened networks stuff yet is because there simply was no need.

If you want to know what's next, I can dig out my old slides. A guy from Britain and I came up with several highly resistant network designs. I think our final one would remain largely intact if you took out 90% of its nodes.

Like all things in fighting spam and large-scale scams, eliminating the C&C servers was one step that was useful for a short span in time. There are still old botnets out there that you can take out with this approach, but the more advanced ones have left that window of opportunity now.

As long as our politicians refuse to tackle the fundamental problem - that of tiny crimes in massive quantities - we're stuck. Our legal system still works by "cases", adapted to a physical world where the crime has an easily enumerated set of victims, each of which having suffered considerable damage. The legal and political systems still don't understand both the tiny and massive scales they need to deal with in a virtual world. Scam 10 people out of $1000 each and you'll get a court case and jail time. Scam 1,000,000 people out of a cent each and nobody in law enforcement will care, even though the damage to society is the same.

Re:*yawn* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159049)

The real fundamental problem is that is the basic business model of government!

Re:*yawn* (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159155)

It's essentially the same thing as centralized peer-to-peer file sharing services like Napster being shut down, and decentralized ones like Grokster popping up to replace them. That happened ~10 years ago.

re: Politicians and the fundamental problem? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159353)

"As long as our politicians refuse to tackle the fundamental problem - that of tiny crimes in massive quantities - we're stuck"

I don't agree, just build `computers' that can't be compromised by clicking on an URL or opening an email attachment.

Re: Politicians and the fundamental problem? (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159455)

It is very likely that the user is a large part of the problem, who do you intent to solve that ?

There are still people who download a piece of software just based on an ad on a website (free anti virus or whatever) and install that on their machine.

Re: Politicians and the fundamental problem? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160313)

It is very likely that the user is a large part of the problem

Yes, but in an entirely different way than you mean it. The user isn't the dumb fool who is responsible for the whole mess - he is the weak link being exploited, and we blast him with "dumb user" ridicule instead of helping him out. Any surprise that users don't trust the geeks who should know better anymore? The IT department is not exactly admired in most companies. How it treats the users is one big reason why.

There are still people who download a piece of software just based on an ad on a website (free anti virus or whatever) and install that on their machine.

Yes, and
a) aside from telling them what a bunch of stupid fucks they are, we aren't helping them one bit making the right decision
b) they should absolutely be able to do that in a perfect world. We have the technology - why isn't every fucking program you download not automatically put into a sandbox? Why are extended permissions, where requested, presented to the user in a way that reads "program wants bla bla tech stuff, tech stuff, tech stuff, incomprehensible, tech bla bla" instead of telling the user what he needs to know in a language he can understand?

We are way too obsessed with technical solutions. In a car analogy, we haven't built systems supporting the driver and making the car safer, we have invented HUD technology and now distract the user from the road with constant warning messages, confirmation screens and then tell him that the rising number of road accidents is a clear sign that most drivers suck.

We are the idiots, not the users.

Re: Politicians and the fundamental problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159797)

How about the proliferation of services on a modern machine? Most people have Flash on there and are completely oblivious to the fact that Adobe software can do a lot more than just draw some boxes and circles. These days I not only have to worry about viruses but also vendors, bad actors in the app stores, drive by downloads...it's near impossible to assure security unless you cripple your machine beyond the point of usefulness.

Another problem is that we keep solving and re-solving the same problems over and over again in an effort to grab mindshare. It's not so much about advancement anymore as it is just having the latest shiny shiny. I wouldn't complain so much if they were using latest languages and techniques to harden the software (sometimes a rewrite is good) but I only see software practice getting sloppier and sloppier as time goes by and we're still using C++ for most things and still making the same basic mistakes as 20 years ago. Worse still the law of un intended consequences took a bit out of our asses with rapid deployment. That was supposed to create better quality software but ultimately made it easier to release crappy buggy software and put off the problem to later. The basic problem is that we don't care enough to solve the problem - you don't make money by preventing the exploitation of your customers, you make money by exploiting your customers...and quickly.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

Re: Politicians and the fundamental problem? (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160279)

I've just given a talk on this on tuesday. Technology is a sideshow in the full picture of this crap. Phishing, spam, etc. are not primary technological problems. Botnets are just the currently most effective technology underlying this crap. Before botnets, we had rooted servers pumping out spam by the millions. We made that more difficult, so spammers went to easier targets and began building botnets. If we push them ouf of there, they will find other ways. It's a game of whack-a-mole.

Re:*yawn* (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159861)

Scam 10 people out of $1000 each and you'll get a court case and jail time. Scam 1,000,000 people out of a cent each and nobody in law enforcement will care, even though the damage to society is the same.

Not to nitpick, but more than half of those ten may be in trouble [consumerist.com] if they lost that kind of money. Is the impact proportional for losing a cent (pretty much anywhere in the world)? The gain is the same to the scammer, but how do you calculate 'damage' on a one-cent scale?

Re:*yawn* (1)

Tom (822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39160251)

Your argument is a moral, not a legal one. Legally, scamming a millionaire out of $1000 is the same as scamming a beggar out of his life savings of the same amount.

What OS are these networks running on? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158903)

"takedowns of such a network will be extremely difficult because there is no one central source to attack."

Is anyone reminded of frequency-hopping? (2)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158905)

There is no one node controlling the ensemble, yet they still need to coordinate their operations. The nodes must have perform a sort of hopping from one control-frequency (for lack of a better analogy) to another so they can't be followed

No Problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39159003)

Now it's a collective, right?
So, all we have to do is find the bot named "hugh"....

Flood them with garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39160103)

Why doesn't someone figure out how to hijack the most prolific viruses/trojans/whatever, perpetrate them and flood the collectors with nonsense data so what they receive back from their minions of zombies is useless? Better yet, can't someone invent a simple virus that disables these complicated things? Then we only need a public campaign to convince all the AV people to not erase the "friendlies."

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