Koobface Crew Keeps Foot to Floor

By Matthew Hines  |  Posted 2009-09-02 Print this article Print

The Koobface worm has earned a spot as perhaps the most noteworthy malware campaign aimed specifically at users of social networks to date, having laced itself onto major Web 2.0 properties including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter over the last year.

But despite researchers best efforts to follow the attacks and help networking sites and users protect themselves from the threat, the people behind Koobface don't show any signs of curbing their activities.

The experts at Symantec have spent the last three weeks taking a closer look at Koobface trends, which show a vast majority of the systems involved in spreading the attack located in the United States and Europe.

Using a relatively simple design -- one through which a central redirection server channels end users to infected bots where the trademark Koobface social engineering attack takes place, and through which they frequently swap in new control centers to avoid a takedown of their mission control -- the schemers are still infecting masses of endpoints and staying ahead of researchers attempting to stop them, the Symantec experts said.

"While the central redirection point has been actively targeted by take-down requests, the Koobface gang has so far been quick to replace suspended domain names and blacklisted IPs with new ones," Marco Cova, a Cal Santa Barbara PhD student working for Symantec's Research Labs Europe, said in a blog post. "In the course of three weeks we observed 17,170 distinct infected IP addresses."

Only a smattering of the endpoints infected by Koobface, or at least those tracked by Symantec, were located outside of the U.S. or Europe (see map here).

The attack continues to use similar social engineering techniques to trick users into taking the bait, largely by automatically generating blogs on popular sites including Blogspot and Google's blogging platform, to lure victims into clicking on malicious links and then infecting their computers.

During Symantec's latest project they detected 11,337 such malicious blogs and throughout August hundreds of the infected blogs were being added each day, the experts reported.

"More than a year has passed since Koobface was first detected; yet, this worm and the people behind it are still very active in keeping their infrastructure up to date, finding new means of propagating the infection, and taking advantage of their victims," Cova concluded.

The reason why the attack works so well? Let's face it, as long as humans are the last line of defense in stopping the threats from succeeding, Koobface will likely soldier on.

Beware the unfamiliar blog. You know, unless it's this one.

Matt Hines has been following the IT industry for over a decade as a reporter and blogger, and has been specifically focused on the security space since 2003, including a previous stint writing for eWeek and contributing to the Security Watch blog. Hines is currently employed as marketing communications manager at Core Security Technologies, a Boston-based maker of security testing software. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Core Security, and neither the company, nor its products and services will be actively discussed in the blog. Please send news, research or tips to SecurityWatchBlog@gmail.com.

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