'Storm' flaunts crazy cat to build out botnet

Meow mix? Nix clicks: Web page with laugh track compromises Windows PCs

After lying low for several weeks, hackers responsible for spreading the Storm Trojan have returned to the attack with e-mail that leads to an exploit-filled Web site and a laughing cat, said researchers today.

Storm, a.k.a. Nuwar, a.k.a. Peacomm, is a Trojan horse designed to compromise Windows-powered computers, then add those machines to a growing botnet. Although the size of the botnet acquired by Storm has been disputed, the most conservative estimates put it in the hundreds of thousands.

The malware has been seeded using several attack vectors, but the most common have been e-mail campaigns that contain attachments, or which link to malicious Web sites. Those sites then infect visiting vulnerable PCs using drive-by downloads or by convincing users to click on additional links that then download an executable.

Attacks typically come in waves, researchers have noted, that rise, crest and then subside, while the hackers behind the botnet have become infamous for crafting persuasive messages and tricking users into infecting themselves.

"After a few weeks of low activity from the Storm gang, they... changed the e-mail messages and also the website," said Patrik Runald, a researcher with Helsinki-based F-Secure, on the company's blog.

Starting yesterday, Storm's backers began sending messages bearing text that read, "Here is the new Psycho cat card," and contained a link to a URL. Recipients who click on the link reach a site posing as a humorous greeting, with a Shockwave clip of a laughing kitten, complete with soundtrack, said McAfee's Dmitry Gryaznov. The page, however, is loaded with multiple drive-by exploits as well as links to the "SuperLaugh.exe" executable. That file is actually a recent variant of Storm.

"Of course, pretty much wherever you click on the page, you get nothing but Nuwar," said Gryaznov on his company's research blog.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?