Malware from Mirai DDoS attack continues to harass in short bursts

Mirai-powered botnets are found attacking new, seemingly random targets

It's still unclear who pulled off Friday's massive internet disruption, but the malware largely responsible for the cyber attack has since assaulted new targets -- possibly including video gamers.

Since last Friday, botnets created by the Mirai malware have been launching distributed denial-of-service attacks at seemingly random targets, in short bursts, according to a security researcher who goes by the name MalwareTech.

He has tracked Mirai-powered botnets and helped produce a Twitter feed that monitors their DDoS attacks. On Wednesday alone, the feed posted close to 60 attacks, many of them lasting from 30 seconds to over a minute long.

Copycat hackers have been taking advantage of the Mirai malware ever since the source code was released on an online forum on Sept. 30. So far, 23 unique command-and-control servers have been connected with Mirai activity, MalwareTech said in messages over Twitter.

Not all of those servers are currently active. The one responsible for Friday's internet disruption, targeting DNS service provider Dyn and affecting dozens of U.S. sites, has been offline since the attack, he said.

However, other Mirai-powered botnets have kept busy and are probably part of DDoS-for-hire services called booters that hackers run as a way to generate cash, MalwareTech said.

These DDoS-for-hire services work by flooding a target with internet traffic, overwhelming the connection. Hackers offer them as a way to briefly take down a website or even force internet users, particularly gamers, offline.

"Sore losers would use them in Xbox games like Halo to time-out the good players on the enemy team so they could win," MalwareTech said in a Tweet.

This probably explains why these new Mirai-powered DDoS attacks are going after numerous IP addresses, but only for a short time. A few of the attacks have also targeted DDoS mitigation services.

"It's script kiddies [amateur hackers] just hitting whatever they can," he added.

DDoS mitigation provider Arbor Networks also said it's noticed ongoing DDoS attacks from Mirai across the globe. The notorious malware has become the basis for DDoS-for-hire services offering to attack a target, typically in exchange for bitcoins, Arbor Networks said in a Wednesday blog post.

"Multiple threat actors have been observed customizing and improving the attack capabilities of the original botnet code, and additional Mirai-based DDoS botnets have been observed in the wild," the company said.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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