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Botnets, Hackers’ Instant Attack Weapons

According to the security experts, hackers' militias turn to the means nearest at hand viz., botnets, as it acts to strike other countries' information infrastructure. Apparently, botnets, networks of compromised PCs, are already running active and yielding their masters ill-gotten benefits.

Joe Stewart, malware analysis director at SecureWorks Inc., also a well-known researcher on botnets, said that hackers simply select tools they use daily, as reported by ComputerWorld on April 7, 2010. The hack operators don't have time for executing their attacks, so they require something that is already being utilized.

According to researchers, during 2008, Russian hackers assembled an army of formerly hijacked PCs comprising a botnet/botnets for launching DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) assaults. The purpose was to knock offline several state websites belonging to the erstwhile Georgian republic in Soviet Russia.

With DDoS assaults, innumerable fake requests inundate websites, effectively overwhelming their servers. Consequently, the handling of genuine requests is blocked, while the websites become functionally disrupted or the ISP- Internet Service Provider takes them offline.

Stewart, along with other security experts, said that a certain botnet assembled to carry out a short-lived online conflict was Black Energy. This botnet contained computers, hijacked with a Trojan horse and understandably used for attacking Citibank in 2009.

According to the U.S authorities, Citibank consequently lost several million dollars, as reported by ComputerWorld in December 2009.

Another researcher, named Marc Fossi manager of research and development for the security response team of Symantec Corp. described botnets as attack tools' Swiss Army knife, according to the news published by ComputerWorld on April 7, 2010. Fossi also stated that hackers employ them to distribute spam e-mail, to execute phishing and to post malcode or launch Web-based assaults. According to him, they are the drivers of criminal activity online.

Reportedly, the original purpose of botnets was to relay spam. Botnets are even authored using a worm program normally delivered via a spam scam, an adware or spyware program that leaves behind a program or any file.

Stewart commented that hackers are doing this to serve nationalistic purposes or to gain favors like saving them from prosecutions relating to their other crimes for co-operating with corrupt governments.

Related article: Botnet Misuses Google Analytics

» SPAMfighter News - 4/16/2010

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