Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help! Someone Hijacked my 100k+ Zeus Botnet!

I've been looking for a similar chatter for a while now, given the existence of a remotely exploitable vulnerability in an old Zeus crimeware release allowing a cybercriminal to inject a new user within the admin panel of another cybecriminal.

It appears that this guy has had his 100k+ Zeus botnet hijacked several months ago, and now that he's managed to at least partly recover the number of infected hosts in two separate botnets, is requesting advice on how to properly secure his administration panel.

Here's an exact translation of his concerns :
"Dear colleagues, I'd like to hear all sorts of ideas regarding to security of Zeus. I've been using Zeus for over an year now, and while I managed to create a botnet of 100k infected hosts someone hijacked it from me by adding a new user and changing my default layout to orange just to tip once he did it. Once I fixed my directory permissions. I now have two botnets, the first one is 30k and the second (thanks to a partnership with a friend) is now 3k located at different hosting providers. 

Sadly, yesterday I once again found out that my admin panel seems to have been compromised since all the files were changed to different name, and access to the admin panel blocked by IP. Yes, that seems to be the IP the hijacker is using. The attacker has been snooping Apache logs in order to find IPs that have been used for logging purposes and blocked them all. Therefore I think the new user has been added by exploiting a flaw in Zeus. In my opinion a request  was made to the database, either through an sql injection in s.php a file or a request from within a user with higher privileges.

Since I've aplied patches to known bugs, this could also be a compromise of my hosting provider. So here are some clever tips which I offer based on my experience with securing Zeus. 

- Change the default set of commands, make them unique to your needs only. 
- If it is possible to prohibit the reading and dump tables with logs all IP, to allow only certain (so that the crackers were not able to make a dump and did not read the logs in the database). 
- If it is possible to prohibit editing of tables with all the commands of Zeus IP, to allow only certain (that could not be "hijacked", insert the command bots)"

Surreal? Not at all, given the existing monoculture on the crimeware market. Morever, yet another vulnerability was found in the Firepack web malware exploitation kit earlier this month (Firepack remote command execution exploit that leverages admin/ref.php). This exploit could have made a bigger impact in early 2008, the peak of the Firepack kit, which was also localized to Chinese several months later:

The FirePack Web Malware Exploitation Kit
The FirePack Exploitation Kit - Part Two
The FirePack Exploitation Kit Localized to Chinese

Ironically, cybercriminals too, seem to be using outdated versions of their crimeware.

Related posts:
Crimeware in the Middle - Adrenalin
76Service - Cybercrime as a Service Going Mainstream
Zeus Crimeware as a Service Going Mainstream
Modified Zeus Crimeware Kit Gets a Performance Boost
Modified Zeus Crimeware Kit Comes With Built-in MP3 Player
Zeus Crimeware Kit Gets a Carding Layout
The Zeus Crimeware Kit Vulnerable to Remotely Exploitable Flaw
Crimeware in the Middle - Zeus