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Kelhios: The Vampire of Botnets

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Ransomware AttacksReading Time: 3 minutes


A botnet, a network of unwillingly controlled computers, is sometimes called a Zombie network. That’s because, like “real zombies” the computer owners aren’t aware of what has happened to them. In the case of the Kelihos botnet, a better term might be a Vampire network.

The network has been “killed” several times, but always manages to rise from the dead! Like Vampires of lore, Kelhios is a predator that attacks computer users, usually for schemes related to financial fraud.

When first discovered in December 2010, the Kelihos botnet consisted of at least 45,000 computers that were be used to spew email spam and conduct Denial of Service attacks. While the number of computers in the network was particularly large, there have been botnets in the millions; Kelihos was capable of generating up to 3 billion spam messages per day.

In September 2012, Microsoft announced that they had been able to pull the plug on Kelihos. This was no small feat. Unlike other botnets, Kelihos is a pear to pear network with no command and control servers. In the case of Waledac botnet, Microsoft was able to get a court order to seize the networks servers.

Bringing down Kelihos involved shutting down all of the domains that were spreading the malware that infected computers and made them part of the network., plus “infecting” the zombie computers with a reverse engineered version of the malware that seizes control of the computer from the Kelihos operators. The process is known as “sinkholing”, where the bots are disconnected from the botnet and controlled by friendly computers.

It was a unique and dramatic success, but the story does not end there.

An even larger botnet, estimated at 110,000, computers was discovered in January 2012 that was based on the same code as Kelihos, also known as Version 2. There were not the same controlled computers, but it was a slightly modified version of the controlling software. The ability to steal bitcoins was added for the first time to the network. A bitcoin is a digital currency that can be exchanged for real money.

A key change in version 2 was the ability to spread via removable drives such as USB sticks. It was also determined that the malware was being spread from domains in Russia instead of Europe, making it more difficult to diagnose and shut down.

The second version of the botnet itself was shut down by it in March 2012 by several privately owned firms who used the same approach pioneered by Microsoft. Evidently, it was far from a silver stake through Kelihos’s heart. Evidence of a reappearance of the botnet first was reporting the next month.

It was not until February 2013 that the third iteration of Kelihos became widely known. However, according the security firm CrowdStrike Version 3 of Kelihos was being implemented within 20 minutes of the Version 2 takedown. The Kelihos operators apparently had contingency plans with software improvements already in place to get the botnet back up and make it more difficult to take down in the future.

In one of the more dramatic events in Internet Security history, CrowdStrike conducted a live takedown of Kelihos Version 3 at the February 2013 RSA convention on Internet Security. The convention audience could watch a global map as thousands of Kelihos bots went from being in the botnet to being sinkholed and controlled by friendlies.

CrowdStrike had determined that bots regularly “checked in” to proxy servers and were updated with a list of what, to them, were friendly bots in the network that they could connect to. CrowdStrike’s new method of sinkholing involves spreading a substitute list of computers that take the bots offline when connected to.

Brilliant and a real crowd pleaser at the RSA Convention. But is Kelihos really dead? It doesn’t appear to be. Recent reports indicate that it is very much alive. There is way too much money in the spam and financial fraud that such a botnet can commit to expect the creators to go quietly into the good night. New botnets are being reported on a regular basis and the peer-to-peer design pioneered by Kelihos has become popular botnet creators.

What should I do about botnets?

The most important things to do are the basics. Make sure you have the latest versions of the best antivirus and personal firewall software on all of your computers.

And you need to be vigilant. When you visit a web site, check for an EV SSL certificate before ever downloading software or providing personal information. If you are protecting a network, in addition to the obvious the best advice is to simply not give most users admin rights to install software. Users hate that restriction, I know I do. It is the best way, however, to ensure a drive by download can’t kick off and install malware before the virus scanner can catch it.

TEST YOUR EMAIL SECURITY GET YOUR INSTANT SECURITY SCORECARD FOR FREE Source: https://blog.comodo.com/it-security/kelhios-the-vampire-of-botnets/

Cyber Security

Digitally Signed Bandook Trojan Reemerges in Global Spy Campaign

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The administrator of your personal data will be Threatpost, Inc., 500 Unicorn Park, Woburn, MA 01801. Detailed information on the processing of personal data can be found in the privacy policy. In addition, you will find them in the message confirming the subscription to the newsletter.

Source: https://threatpost.com/digitally-signed-bandook-trojan-spy-campaign/161676/

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Cyber Security

MacOS Users Targeted By OceanLotus Backdoor

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The administrator of your personal data will be Threatpost, Inc., 500 Unicorn Park, Woburn, MA 01801. Detailed information on the processing of personal data can be found in the privacy policy. In addition, you will find them in the message confirming the subscription to the newsletter.

Source: https://threatpost.com/macos-users-targeted-oceanlotus-backdoor/161655/

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Pandemic, A Driving Force in 2021 Financial Crime

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The administrator of your personal data will be Threatpost, Inc., 500 Unicorn Park, Woburn, MA 01801. Detailed information on the processing of personal data can be found in the privacy policy. In addition, you will find them in the message confirming the subscription to the newsletter.

Source: https://threatpost.com/2021-financial-crime-covid-19/161665/

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Big Data

Contactless payments market to reach US$ 26.3 billion by 2027

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Contactless Payments Market To Reach US$ 26.3 Billion By 2027

The global contactless payments market is expected to surpass US$ 26.3 Billion by 2027 end, registering a CAGR of 12.9% during the forecast period of 2019 to 2027), as highlighted in a report published by Coherent Market Insights.

Increasing demand for contactless payments from the retail sector is expected to drive market growth during the forecast period. Retailers are modernizing their brick-and-mortar stores to offer secure services to customers and establishing online stores to increase revenue.

They are adopting advanced technologies such as big data analytics and cloud computing to increase their presence in the market. Retail manufacturers are using contactless payments methods that provide many benefits, such as reduced transaction time, increased operational efficiency, increased revenue, minimized cost, and others. Contactless payment methods at retail stores reduce transaction process and queue in counter.

Moreover, governments are also focusing on introducing new payment methods in order to increase productivity and remain competitive in the market. For instance, in December 2016, the government of India launched BHIM app for Unified Payment Interface (UPI). The common UPIbased BHIM app allows the user to send and receive money through their mobile phones by linking their bank accounts. For instance, according to Coherent Market Insights’ analysis, the number of transactions done through the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app reached 18.8 million in February 2020.

Contactless Payments Market – Impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic

According to Coherent Market Insight‘s study, globally, most of the countries are affected by COVID-19 and most of the countries have announced lockdown.Contactless payment have become more preferred payment method, as it requires less physical interactions.

Smartphone based payment interface and digital wallets are the potential solutions to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, recent developments in digital payments have encouraged the use of contactless payment methods during this pandemic. For instance, in April 2020, Upgrade Inc., a U.S.-based loan company, launched new contactless credit card. The new credit card provides high transaction limit than other payment methods.

Moreover, bank authorities and card network in Germany, U.K., Austria, and other countries have set higher transaction limit, as people are staying at home and prefer shopping through payment cards only. For instance, U.K Finance Limited increased the transaction limit for contactless payment cards starting from 30 Euros to 45 Euros. This, in turn, increases demand for contactless payment solutions.

Key Trends and Analysis of the Global Contactless Payments Market:

  • Europe held dominant position in the global contactless payments market in 2019 and is expected to retain its dominance throughout the forecast period. This is owing to increasing payment through smart cards. For instance, according to the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), contactless payments through Mastercard and Maestro increased by 145% in Europe in 2018. Furthermore, in 2019, according to Coherent Market Insights’ analysis, the transactions through contactless payment methods reached 651 million in the U.K.
  • Asia Pacific is expected to show significant growth over the forecast period. The increasing adoption of contactless payment methods from retail industry is fueling the market growth. Retailers are modernizing their conventional payment methods with contactless payment methods, in order to improve productivity and efficiency in the business.
  • Among device type, the smartphone segment held dominant position in the market in 2019 and is expected to retain its dominance during the forecast period. This is owing to increasing demand for live streaming from consumers. For instance, the online video streaming market is expected to exceed US$ 70,000 million in 2021 from US$ 30,000 million in 2016.
  • Major players operating in the global contactless payments market include Thales Group, Infineon Technologies AG, Ingenico Group, Wirecard, VeriFone, Inc., Giesecke+Devrient GmbH, IDEMIA, Track Innovations LTD., Identiv, Inc., CPI Card Group Inc., Setomatic Systems, Valitor, PAX, PINPAD, Mobeewave, alcineo, and Paycor, Inc.

Source: https://www.fintechnews.org/contactless-payments-market-to-reach-us-26-3-billion-by-2027/

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