Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Microsoft: Kelihos Ring Sold 'Botnet-As-A-Service'

Software maker files suit against alleged organizer of a virus that turned more than 40,000 computers into 'zombie' PCs.

Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
Windows 8 Visual Tour: Microsoft's New Desktop
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
A Czech-based malware ring was so sophisticated it was able to sell time and space on its network of rogue computers to third parties in exchange for cash and other compensation, Microsoft charged in what may be a groundbreaking lawsuit against the group's organizers.

"The Kelihos Botnet operators sell botnet capacity as a service, including the capability of sending spam email to perpetuate fraud, to collect financial and personal data, and to distribute harmful and malicious software," Microsoft alleged in court papers filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia.

Microsoft filed the suit against Dominique Alexander Piatti, a Czech resident that the company believes was behind the Kelihos botnet, which infected more than 40,000 Windows computers with code that used the PCs to further disseminate malware, scareware, spam, and other nefarious files. The suit also names dotFREE Group S.R.O., a company Microsoft believes is controlled by Piatti, as well as a number of John Does, as defendants.

Microsoft did not identify the third parties it believes paid to use the Kelihos botnet, but noted in the Sept. 22 court filing that, "Botnets are often created and controlled by sophisticated criminal organizations." Microsoft is seeking unspecified damages from Piatti and his alleged co-conspirators.

[ Microsot soon will introduce a fast new PC operating system. Windows 8 Promises 8-Second Boot Ups ]

According to the suit, Piatti spread the Kelihos botnet, which is also known as Waledac 2.0, through a domain called cz.cc, and through 20 related .com domains. The botnet travelled from a "command and control" computer controlled by Piatti, to router PCs and then, ultimately, "spammer" PCs that distributed the bot through the Internet, Microsoft alleges.

A PC would become a Kelihos zombie (a computer that is corralled into a botnet network to further spread malware without the user's knowledge or permission), if the user opened email or visited a Web site infected with Kelihos' malicious code, Microsoft claimed.

"The spread of the Kelihos Botnet in this way is not related to any vulnerability in Microsoft's systems, but it is instead achieved by misleading unwitting users into taking steps that result in the infection of their machines," Microsoft said in court papers.

Microsoft said its lawsuit represents the first time a botnet distributor has been identified by name in a civil court action. "Naming defendants in this case marks a big step forward for Microsoft in making good on its commitment to aggressively protect its platform and customers against abuse from whomever and wherever it may originate," a company attorney said in a statement.

Last week, the software maker obtained a court order that required cz.cc's U.S. hosts and Internet providers, which include Verisign, AT&T, and Charter Communications, to sever the domain's link to infected computers. Piatti has yet to file a formal response to Microsoft's allegations.

Security professionals often view compliance as a burden, but it doesn't have to be that way. In this report, we show the security team how to partner with the compliance pros. Download the report here. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Bprince
50%
50%
Bprince,
User Rank: Ninja
10/3/2011 | 9:39:28 PM
re: Microsoft: Kelihos Ring Sold 'Botnet-As-A-Service'
This type of collaboration between vendors (Kaspersky Lab was involved in this also) I think has become key in damaging botnet operations. More behind the story from Kaspersky: http://www.securelist.com/en/b...
Brian Prince, InformationWeek contributor
SOC 2s & Third-Party Assessments: How to Prevent Them from Being Used in a Data Breach Lawsuit
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  12/5/2019
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-4428
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Watson Assistant for IBM Cloud Pak for Data 1.0.0 through 1.3.0 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session....
CVE-2019-4611
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Planning Analytics 2.0 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 168519.
CVE-2019-4612
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Planning Analytics 2.0 is vulnerable to malicious file upload in the My Account Portal. Attackers can make use of this weakness and upload malicious executable files into the system and it can be sent to victim for performing further attacks. IBM X-Force ID: 168523.
CVE-2019-4621
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM DataPower Gateway 7.6.0.0-7 throug 6.0.14 and 2018.4.1.0 through 2018.4.1.5 have a default administrator account that is enabled if the IPMI LAN channel is enabled. A remote attacker could use this account to gain unauthorised access to the BMC. IBM X-Force ID: 168883.
CVE-2019-19230
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
An unsafe deserialization vulnerability exists in CA Release Automation (Nolio) 6.6 with the DataManagement component that can allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code.