Zeus botnet dealt a blow as ISP Troyak knocked out

90 of 249 Zeus command-and-control servers were knocked offline overnight

Internet service providers linked to the notorious Zeus botnet have been taken down, knocking out a third of the command-and-control servers that run the network of hacked machines.

Two ISPs, named Troyak and Group 3, were home to 90 of the 249 known Zeus command-and-control servers. Zeus Tracker, a Web site that tracks the botnet, noticed the steep drop in servers on Wednesday morning.

The Troyak network was itself an upstream provider to six networks, known to host a large number of cybercrime servers, including Web sites used in drive-by attacks and phishing sites, according to Kevin Stevens, a researcher with SecureWorks. "There's lots of Zeus and Fragus exploit kit [sites]," he said. Whoever was behind the takedown "just decided to knock out a large area of cybercirme, and this was probably one of the easiest ways to do it."

Troyak is based in Kostanay, Kazakhstan, according to whois records. The company could not be reached immediately for comment.

The Zeus Tracker administrator, who asked not to be named, said that at first he thought that there had been some type of technical error in the Zeus code. On further investigation, he discovered that Troyak had been taken offline, which in turn knocked the networks hosting the botnet servers off the Internet.

This kind of ISP takedown has worked in the past. Just over a year ago, McColo, in San Jose, California, was taken offline by its upstream service providers, resulting in a temporary, but dramatic, drop in spam as its botnet command-and-control servers on its network were disabled.

As with the McColo takedown, Troyak's upstream providers seem to have knocked it off the Internet, Cisco said in a statement. "The ISP was 'De-peered,'" Cisco said. "Troyak's upstream network providers effectively pulled the plug on Troyak's router, refusing to transmit its traffic."

Zeus is actually a botnet-making kit that allows cybercriminals to create their own networks of infected computers, but it has been associated with a wave of financial fraud that has caused hundreds of millions in losses to U.S. financial institutions over the past year. Organized crime groups in Eastern Europe are thought to be behind this fraud.

Wednesday's takedown appears to have targeted one of the Zeus gangs, but it is remarkable in that whomever is responsible for the effort is asking not to be identified.

A security researcher who uses the pseudonym Jart Armin attributed Troyak and Group 3's disconnection to "good community action" and said that there was "more being done right now involving many, to ensure the [Zeus gang] have nowhere to go."

"Not every action is a corporate PR exercise," he said. "And we cannot get these guys by knocking off a bunch of domains via a court in Virginia," a reference to Microsoft's recent court-ordered takedown of the Waledac botnet.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Zeus botnetbotnetssecurity

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.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
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 >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

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

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?