Latest malware trick: outsourcing quality assurance

Malware distributors are outsourcing their quality assurance programs to services provided by the likes of virtest.com

Creators of Waledac malware enlisted the Conficker botnet as a tool to spread malware of their own, marking the first time Conficker was made available for hire, according to Cisco's mid-year security report.This was symptomatic of a wider trend Cisco noted of malware purveyors using established business practices to expand their illegal enterprises. Cisco likened the arrangement between Waledac and Conficker to a partner ecosystem, a term Cisco uses to describe its collaboration with other vendors.

Waledac used the Conficker distribution channel to send spam and to expand its own botnet, Cisco says.

Malware distributors are also outsourcing their quality assurance programs to services provided by the likes of virtest.com, Cisco says. For a fee the site tests malicious files against the latest versions of 26 virus-scanning software products to determine whether the anti-virus software can detect the malware.

Cisco says running the malware through this screening results in malware that is 10 to 20 times more effective than it would be otherwise, and frees up the attackers to work on other products rather than test how detectable their current exploits are.

The report pronounces rogue anti-virus the cybercrime product of the year. The software infects victims' PCs with a Trojan then offers to sell them anti-virus software . The Trojan displays warnings that a virus has been found on the machine and recommends anti-virus software to remove it. Victims pay for the antivirus via credit card and the symptoms of the infection go away.

However, Cisco says, the Trojan does not; it remains and could be reactivated. Separate from the Cisco report, some victims of the exploit report that unauthorized charges appeared on their credit cards after using them to buy the anti-virus software.

Cisco says it perceives cooperation among the security community as increasingly effective in fighting attacks. "One bright spot is that vulnerability and that activity has been off to a slower start this year compared to 2008," the report says. "This could indicate the security community is succeeding in making it more difficult for attacks to take root and grow."

Web sites that are infected to download malware to unsuspecting visitors will increase, the report predicts. These sites represent nearly 90% of all Web-based threats, the report says. Creation of botnets will be a particular goal of this type of malware, it says.

The report recommends that businesses maintain patches to fend off attacks. Educating employees about protecting their own identities and upholding corporate security policies is essential. At the same time, security executives should realize that insiders pose a great threat, especially when layoffs are threatened. Even those surviving layoffs employees may become disgruntled and try to steal data or disrupt corporate networks, the report says.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags botnetsWaledacconfickermalware

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

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?