New Botnet Attacks

According to stories in today’s editions of the Washington Post and the New York Times, a new “botnet” attack has compromised more than 75,000 computers at about 2,500 companies and organizations in the US and elsewhere.  Although there have been attacks in the past that affected more computers, this attack appears especially sophisticated, and targeted at firms in the health care and technology industries:

The attack, which began in late 2008 and was discovered last month, targeted proprietary corporate data, e-mails, credit-card transaction data and login credentials at companies in the health and technology industries in 196 countries, according to Herndon [VA]-based NetWitness.

The infections were apparently discovered in late January, and made use of a variant of the ZeuS “Trojan Horse” malware.  The attacks appear to have been focused on stealing login and electronic banking credentials.

This is yet another example of how hacking activity on the Web has gone from something akin to adolescent vandalism to organized crime,   NetWitness said that the botnet, which they have dubbed “Kneber”, appears to have originated in Eastern Europe.   The chief executive of NetWitness, Amit Yoran, said,

“Cyber criminal elements, like the Kneber crew, quietly and diligently target and compromise thousands of government and commercial organizations across the globe.”

Unfortunately, the days when it was sufficient to just install an anti-virus program on each PC are long behind us.   Today’s attacks are not only much more sophisticated, but also tend to be targeted to get maximum payoff.

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