Botnet Guesses Weak Passwords to Compromise Thousands of Web Servers
Researchers study a botnet campaign that has stolen control of approximately 6,000 servers just by guessing 10 to 100 passwords per site.With all the focus on convincing users to strengthen their passwords, brute-force guessing attacks should no longer be effective. Yet, recently, a discovered botnet has been able to build a stable of approximately 6,000 servers just by guessing 10 to 100 passwords per site, researchers from Arbor Networks said Aug. 7. The Fort Disco campaign uses a botnet of nearly 25,000 Windows machines to attempt to compromise more bandwidth-capable content-management servers running WordPress and Joomla, the researchers stated in the analysis. Most of the compromised Websites are located in Russia and the Ukraine, and the success of the campaign shows that many administrators still do not consider security when choosing their passwords, Matt Bing, senior research engineer for Arbor Networks, told eWEEK. "If you actually look at the passwords that successfully logged on to these sites, they are the weakest of the weak—ones like 'admin' and '123456,'" he said. While the Fort Disco campaign shows similarities to previous compromises of Web servers, the only clues to the motivation of the attackers is the installation of a PHP backdoor and tools for creating a drive-by download site on about 800 of the compromised servers.
The campaign shows similarities to the Brobot attacks that enabled the al Qassam Cyber Fighters to inundate financial services firms with multi-gigabit-per-second attacks, slowing consumers' access to bank accounts. The servers used in that attack appeared to be content-management servers that had been compromised though password guessing.