Botnets for hire likely attacked U.S. banks
Attacks on several banks were very sophisticated, security researchers say
IDG News Service - Evidence collected from a website that was recently used to flood U.S. banks with junk traffic suggests that the people behind the ongoing DDoS attack campaign against U.S. financial institutions -- thought by some to be the work of Iran -- are using botnets for hire.
The compromised website contained a PHP-based backdoor script that was regularly instructed to send numerous HTTP and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) requests to the websites of several U.S. banks, including PNC Bank, HSBC and Fifth Third Bank, Ronen Atias, a security analyst at Web security services provider Incapsula, said Tuesday in a blog post.
Atias described the compromised site as a "small and seemingly harmless general interest UK website" that recently signed up for Incapsula's services.
An analysis of the site and the server logs revealed that attackers were instructing the rogue script to send junk traffic to U.S. banking sites for limited periods of time varying between seven minutes and one hour. The commands were being renewed as soon as the banking sites showed signs of recovery, Atias said.
During breaks from attacking financial websites the backdoor script was being instructed to attack unrelated commercial and e-commerce sites. "This all led us to believe that we were monitoring the activities of a Botnet for hire," Atias said.
"The use of a Web Site as a Botnet zombie for hire did not surprise us," the security analyst wrote. "After all, this is just a part of a growing trend we're seeing in our DDoS prevention work."
"In an attempt to increase the volume of the attacks, hackers prefer web servers over personal computers," Atias said. "It makes perfect sense. These are generally stronger machines, with access to the high quality hoster's networks and many of them can be easily accessed through a security loophole in one of the sites."
Another interesting aspect of the PHP-based backdoor analyzed by Incapsula is that it had the ability to multiply on the server in order to take full advantage of its resources, Atias said. "Since this is a server on the hoster's backbone, it was potentially capable of producing much more traffic volume than a regular 'old school' botnet zombie."
In addition, the backdoor script provided an API (application programming interface) through which attackers could inject dynamic attack code in order to quickly adapt to changes in the website's security, Atias said.
The attack script on the compromised U.K. website was being controlled through another website in Turkey that belongs to a Web design company. Incapsula's researchers believe that the Turkish site had been compromised as well and was serving as a bridge between the real attackers and their website-based botnet.
Flashback to the late 1960s, when this pilot fish has just gotten a job in a bank's data processing department -- and one day his new boss tells him to grab a disk pack and run for a cab.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- The Big Data Opportunity for HR and Finance
- If CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and CHROs want to drive their businesses forward, they will need to quickly recognize the enormous value of big...
- Considerations For Effective Software License Management
- For many reasons, software license management has become a critical issue for many IT organizations and enterprise's alike. With many licensing options, hurdles...
- eBay uses 100% OpenSource WSO2 ESB to process more than 1Billion transactions a day
- Along with eBay's success comes a huge demand to ensure reliable, 24x7 availability of the services that enable these transactions. For eBay, that...
- A Reference Architecture for the Internet of Things
- The aim of this is to provide Architects and Developers of IoT projects with an effective starting point that covers the major requirements...
- REST easy: API Design, Evolution and Connection
- RESTful design increases API performance, reduces development effort, and minimizes operational support burden. By following a few best practices and selecting RESTful tooling,... All Financial IT White Papers
- It's not too late...Get Your Mobile Questions Answered Live! How can IT provide seamless and secure mobile communications and collaboration for all? Join this live Webcast as IDG asks an expert panel...
- Why do you need an enterprise mobile platform? Today companies must offer great apps that run on a range of devices, and connect to an exploding set of backend data. Appcelerator...
- The Foundation You Need to Build a Better Storage Infrastructure Watch this webcast to hear how you can maximize the economics of your data center by modifying your storage footprint and power usage...
- Building Tomorrow's Data Center with Converged Technologies A number of forces are converging: the cloud, converged infrastructure, big data and fabric architectures to name a few.
- Technology for Everyone A Kansas school district modernizes teaching and learning and paves the way to a one-to-one program with a comprehensive upgrade of its wireless...
- All Financial IT Webcasts