Story image

Botnet activity spreading multi-purpose malware tools

05 Sep 18

Cybercriminals who use botnets to conduct their attacks are shifting away from single-purpose malware and starting to focus on distributing malware that can be used for multiple purposes.

Kaspersky Lab researchers analysed 600,000 botnets around the world over the first half of 2018. It found more than 150 malware families, which comprised everything from banking Trojans to Remote Access Tools.

The report’s main findings indicate that the share of single-purpose malware has dropped significantly compared to the last half of 2017. Banking Trojans suffered the greatest drop between H2 2017 (22.46%) to just 13.25% in H1 2018.

Single-purpose malware known as spamming bots also dropped: from 18.93% in H2 2017 to 12.23% in H1 2018, indicating that botnets are distributing less of this particular type of malware.

Botnets were also less-often used to disturbed DDoS bots, as they also dropped from 2.66% in H2 2017 to 1.99% in H1 2018.

However, botnets are increasingly becoming carriers for Remote Access Tool (RAT) malware that is more flexible.

According to Kaspersky Labs, RATs can provide almost unlimited potential for exploiting an infected device.

In H1 2018, botnets distributed almost double the amount of RAT files than in H2 2017 – a jump from 6.55% to 12.22%.

The most common RAT tools include Njrat, DarkComet, and Nanocore. Because they are simple, amateur threat actors can adapt and use them for their own purposes.

“The reason why RATs and other multipurpose malware are taking the lead when it comes to botnets is obvious: botnet ownership costs a significant amount of money and in order to make a profit, criminals should be able to use each and every opportunity to get money out of malware,” comments Kaspersky Lab security expert Alexander Eremin.

“A botnet built out of multipurpose malware can change its functions relatively quickly and shift from sending spam to DDoS or to the distribution of banking Trojans. While this ability in itself allows botnet owner to switch between different ‘active’ malicious business models, it also opens an opportunity for a passive income: the owner can simply rent out their botnet to other criminals.”

To reduce the risk of turning your devices into part of a botnet, users are advised to:

  • Patch the software on your PC as soon as security updates for the latest bugs uncovered are available. Unpatched devices can be exploited by cybercriminals and connected into a botnet.
  • Do not download pirated software and other illegal content, as these are often used to distribute malicious bots.  
  • Use internet security to prevent your computer being infected with any type of malware, including that used for the creation of botnets.
IP theft: A global issue catching NZ businesses off guard
“We have this incredible record of innovation in New Zealand. But our innovative businesses haven’t always been meticulous in shoring up their IP."
Why A/NZ organisations need to improve compliance protocols
Only a mere 4% of IT decision makers and data managers surveyed said their organisation faced no data management challenges. 
What the people say - Gartner’s November Customers’ Choices
A roundup of the latest Gartner Peer Insight Customers’ Choices from Backup and Recovery to Business Intelligence and Analytics, and more.
BlackBerry buys out cybersecurity AI firm Cylance
“We are eager to leverage BlackBerry’s mobility and security strengths to adapt our advanced AI technology to deliver a single platform.”
Data protection is key to building customer trust
"New data compliance rules offer an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their processes and improve data management and customer loyalty."
NZ Internet Task Force joins iSANZ Hall of Fame
NZITF chair Barry Brailey and former chairs Mike Seddon and Paul McKitrick received the award in Auckland last week.
Quantum computing: The double-edged sword for cybersecurity
Quantum computing is quickly moving from science fiction to reality.
Three ways to achieve data security whilst enabling BYOD
"A mobility strategy is now more important than ever before, that said, selecting the right one is often no small task."