Story image

Botnet activity spreading multi-purpose malware tools

05 Sep 2018

Cybercriminals who use botnets to conduct their attacks are shifting away from single-purpose malware and starting to focus on distributing malware that can be used for multiple purposes.

Kaspersky Lab researchers analysed 600,000 botnets around the world over the first half of 2018. It found more than 150 malware families, which comprised everything from banking Trojans to Remote Access Tools.

The report’s main findings indicate that the share of single-purpose malware has dropped significantly compared to the last half of 2017. Banking Trojans suffered the greatest drop between H2 2017 (22.46%) to just 13.25% in H1 2018.

Single-purpose malware known as spamming bots also dropped: from 18.93% in H2 2017 to 12.23% in H1 2018, indicating that botnets are distributing less of this particular type of malware.

Botnets were also less-often used to disturbed DDoS bots, as they also dropped from 2.66% in H2 2017 to 1.99% in H1 2018.

However, botnets are increasingly becoming carriers for Remote Access Tool (RAT) malware that is more flexible.

According to Kaspersky Labs, RATs can provide almost unlimited potential for exploiting an infected device.

In H1 2018, botnets distributed almost double the amount of RAT files than in H2 2017 – a jump from 6.55% to 12.22%.

The most common RAT tools include Njrat, DarkComet, and Nanocore. Because they are simple, amateur threat actors can adapt and use them for their own purposes.

“The reason why RATs and other multipurpose malware are taking the lead when it comes to botnets is obvious: botnet ownership costs a significant amount of money and in order to make a profit, criminals should be able to use each and every opportunity to get money out of malware,” comments Kaspersky Lab security expert Alexander Eremin.

“A botnet built out of multipurpose malware can change its functions relatively quickly and shift from sending spam to DDoS or to the distribution of banking Trojans. While this ability in itself allows botnet owner to switch between different ‘active’ malicious business models, it also opens an opportunity for a passive income: the owner can simply rent out their botnet to other criminals.”

To reduce the risk of turning your devices into part of a botnet, users are advised to:

  • Patch the software on your PC as soon as security updates for the latest bugs uncovered are available. Unpatched devices can be exploited by cybercriminals and connected into a botnet.
  • Do not download pirated software and other illegal content, as these are often used to distribute malicious bots.  
  • Use internet security to prevent your computer being infected with any type of malware, including that used for the creation of botnets.
Machine learning is a tool and the bad guys are using it
KPMG NZ’s CIO and ESET’s CTO spoke at a recent cybersecurity conference about how machine learning and data analytics are not to be feared, but used.
Popular Android apps track users and violate Google's policies
Google has reportedly taken action against some of the violators.
How blockchain could help stop video piracy in its tracks
An Australian video tech firm has successfully tested a blockchain trial that could end up being a welcome relief for video creators and the fight against video piracy.
IBM X-Force Red & Qualys introduce automated patching
IBM X-Force Red and Qualys are declaring a war on unpatched systems, and they believe automation is the answer.
Micro Focus acquires Interset to improve predictive analytics
Interset utilises user and entity behavioural analytics (UEBA) and machine learning to give security professionals what they need to execute threat detection analysis.
Raising the stakes: McAfee’s predictions for cybersecurity
Security teams and solutions will have to contend with synergistic threats, increasingly backed by artificial intelligence to avoid detection.
Exclusive: Ping Identity on security risk mitigation
“Effective security controls are measured and defined by the direct mitigation of inherent and residual risk.”
CylancePROTECT now available on AWS Marketplace
Customers now have access to CylancePROTECT for AI-driven protection across all Windows, Mac, and Linux (including Amazon Linux) instances.