Notorious spamming botnet, Rustock, takes a fall

Rustock, one of the most prolific spamming botnets, appears to have gone offline

A large network of hacked computers called Rustock, which was responsible for a great volume of spam, has shut down, perhaps as a result of another coordinated take down by security researchers.

Rustock's inactivity, first reported by security writer Brian Krebs on his blog, started on Wednesday when analysts noted that its command-and-control servers were offline.

Richard D.G. Cox, the CIO for the spam-tracking organization Spamhaus, said on Thursday morning that he was waiting for more information from U.S.-based colleagues about why Rustock is not working.

He noted that while it is possible that Rustock's decline is the result of another joint action by the security community, it could be that Rustock's operators are just reorganizing, since the botnet has slowed down before, he said.

"We are aware something is happening," Cox said.

The security company M86 wrote on its blog that Rustock completely stopped spamming, and its command-and-control servers would not respond.

"It is unclear yet who or what caused the shutdown," wrote Phil Hay, an analyst with M86. "It's also possible it has been abandoned. Over the past three years, Rustock has been responsible for a huge amount of spam, at times representing half of all spam caught in our spam traps."

Hay said that Rustock's spam output dropped after the closure of Spamit.com, a Russian website for e-mail spam affiliates linked to GlavMed, which ran the "Canadian Pharmacy" pharmaceutical spam campaigns.

Several botnets -- Pushdo, Waledac and Bredolab -- have come into the crosshairs of security analysts and law enforcement. Microsoft marshalled a group of security researchers that attacked Waledac in February 2010.

Waledac used a complicated peer-to-peer communication system, but researchers were able to disrupt it and take control of some 60,000 computers. Microsoft also went to court to shut down domains used by the botnet to communicate. But botnets are difficult to completely stop, and there are signs that Waledac has come back.

Last October, the Dutch High Tech Crime Team along with other organizations shut down 143 servers used to control Bredolab, which sent an estimated 3.6 billion e-mails a day. Armenian authorities, acting on a request from Dutch police, arrested a 27-year-old man accused of being Bredolab's controller.

Botnets manage to come back from shutdowns as code is modified by hackers and more computers become infected.

"Previous attempts at botnet shutdowns have tended to be short lived as the botnet herders simply regroup and start again," Hay wrote. "It's too early to say bye bye Rustock, but the thought is certainly nice."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaredata protectionintrusionantispamM86 SecurityDesktop security

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

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?