02.26.10

Company That Made Botnets Pretends to Fight Botnets (Microsoft)

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 1:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: King of the bots wants special credit, admiration and media worship for its futile struggles to eradicate the problem it created (one botnet at a time)

THOSE who have Silver Lie installed (i.e. users of proprietary operating systems) will be able to watch the latest shameless spin from Microsoft. 1 trillion (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) spam messages per week are said to be spewed from Windows botnets, but Microsoft claims that “hundreds of thousands of computers” running Windows are being addressed (there are hundreds of millions of zombie PCs running Windows) to eliminate just “1.5 billion spam emails per day”. So how much is that? Like 1% of all spam? Nessuno quotes the following portion from Microsoft’s latest propaganda:

Waledac is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world and, prior to this action, was believed to have the capacity to send over 1.5 billion spam emails per day. In a recent analysis, Microsoft found that between December 3-21, 2009, approximately 651 million spam emails attributable to Waledac were directed to Hotmail accounts alone, including offers and scams related to online pharmacies, imitation goods, jobs, penny stocks and more.

“The part I’m quoting,” writes Nessuno, “lies underneath the Silverlight advertisement. You can read it here without having to download Silverlight.”

Microsoft’s claims are almost hilarious; they try to be seen as though they are doing something. But it’s a losing battle which was lost because Microsoft was not interested in making its platform secure. Here is the MSBBC describing Microsoft as the good guy (using the above PR/propaganda) while neglecting to say that those are compromised Windows PCs that Microsoft’s own negligence is breeding [1, 2, 3].

Microsoft has won court approval to shut down a global network of computers which it says is responsible for more than 1.5bn spam messages every day.

A US judge granted the firm’s request to shut down 277 internet domains, which it said were used to “command and control” the so-called Waledac botnet.

There is some more coverage like this in the British press [1, 2, 3] [via], so the MSBBC is not alone here (there are Microsoft boosters too). The press across the Atlantic still writes about the huge damages caused by those Windows botnets (estimated perhaps at over a trillion dollars) and the remote possibility of creating new laws — as though laws will address the lawless and stop botnets — is still floating.

“The press across the Atlantic still writes about the huge damages caused by those Windows botnets (estimated perhaps at over a trillion dollars) and the remote possibility of creating new laws — as though laws will address the lawless and stop botnets — is still floating.”Intel finally says that it has come under Web attacks, possibly just like the Internet Explorer attacks on Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. It happened on the same month, but Intel kept quiet about it (many firms do because this is negative publicity).

Speaking of Intel, the Wintel press enthusiastically played along with Microsoft's pitch earlier this week when it wrongly claimed that Firefox had a zero-day flaw. Mozilla is formally denying such a claim.

Verisign is working hard to maintain DNS in the face of spoofing, but it also has Windows botnets knocking DNS servers off service sometimes [1, 2], which is equally annoying. We are hearing from readers whose DNS servers are frequently unavailable.

Verisign tries to secure DNS

[...]

At the core of DNSSEC is the ability to verify the answers given by DNS servers. This should, in theory, make it harder for spoofing and poisoning attacks. The digital signing of answers mean that like SSL certificates for websites, it can be checked to see whether the DNS query has produced the legitimate answer.

For those who are not in the mood for bad news, here is some new virus humour.

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4 Comments

  1. your_friend said,

    February 27, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Security researchers watching this botnet say there has been no real change in Waledac, so the free speech challenging court order has been useless. Researchers at SecureWorks note that Waledac is not usually a spammer in the first place and discount claims of reduced activity.

    Free speech advocates should be alarmed about this apparent grant of censorship that Microsoft has been given. To take down any site that has user feedback, all an attacker has to do is program botnets to spam the site and run to a federal judge for the order. This is a double insult to people who run IRC channels, forums and other community services, much like RIAA posting of their own material to file sharing networks.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    USENET is already being criminalised.

  2. BrownieBoy said,

    March 2, 2010 at 4:52 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    I complained to the BBC about their failure to mention to mention Windows in the article that you quoted above.

    Today, I received their reply:

    “Thank you for your e-mail to the BBC News website.

    We did not state that the infected PCs were all Window’s machines, as we
    were unable to confirm that fact with Microsoft. In most cases, it is
    safe to assume that Windows machines make up the majority of a botnet.
    However, non Windows machines have been known to be used particularly in
    the command and control systems of botnets and therefore we could not
    categorically state that every machine ran Windows. ”

    Gotta love it! They wouldn’t say they were Windows because Microsoft hadn’t told them if they *could* say that!

    And what does “non Windows machines have been known to be used particularly in the command and control systems of botnets” supposed to mean? That the bad guy who controls the botnet might be using some Linux machines to pull the botnet’s strings? That hardly makes them part of the botnet, IMHO.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They often do. PayPal says so anyway, but it doesn’t make GNU/Linux the problem. It just means that people who know their way around computers choose a better platform.

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