Microsoft, ESET Work With Law Enforcement to Disrupt Gamarue Botnet

Microsoft and ESET reveal that a team of companies and law enforcement agencies worked for more than a year to disrupt the Gamarue botnet in the latest coordinated takedown.

Microsoft, ESET take down Gamarue botnet

Microsoft and security firm ESET announced on Dec. 4 that the companies have been cooperating with international law enforcement agencies for more than a year to disrupt a sprawling botnet, known as Gamarue.

Gamarue—a crime kit that is known on Internet underground marketplaces as the Andromeda bot—has infected, or attempted to infect, more than 1 million machines each month on average, Microsoft stated in an announcement on Dec. 4. The botnet mainly targets victims in Asian nations with India, Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines and Mexico topping the list of impacted countries.

The bot software, which is detected by ESET as TrojanDownloader.Wauchos, has been under investigation by the two firms for more than a year, Jean-Ian Boutin, senior malware researcher at ESET, stated in an analysis of the malware.

“In the past, Wauchos has been the most detected malware family amongst ESET users, so when we were approached by Microsoft to take part in a joint disruption effort against it to better protect our users and the general public at large, it was a no-brainer to agree,” Boutin said in a statement emailed to eWEEK. “This particular threat has been around for several years now and it is constantly reinventing itself, which can make it hard to monitor.”

Gamarue is a modular crimeware kit that comes with a tool for building malware binaries, or bots, that can then infect computers, a command-and-control server to manage the bots and documentation. Additional software can be purchased to add keylogging, grab Web form details and remotely take over compromised machines.

The software has mainly been used to steal login credentials and to install additional malware, according to ESET’s Boutin.

“Wauchos is widespread, responsible for infecting millions of systems, affects all countries and has been around since 2011,” Boutin said. “There are not a lot of malware families that tick all these boxes.”

The botnets based on Wauchos/Gamarue have spread a wide variety of malware, including the Petya, Cerber and Troldesh ransomware, according to Microsoft. In total, more than 80 different malware families are distributed using the Gamarue botnet.

Microsoft and ESET analyzed more than 44,000 malware samples to gain a picture of the Gamarue botnet. The infrastructure is made up of 464 distinct botnets, using command-and-control (C&C) servers logically located behind some 1,214 domains and Internet addresses.

Windows users worried about the malware can download ESET’s Online Scanner or use Microsoft’s Windows Defender Antivirus to detect and remove the malware.

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos

Robert Lemos is an award-winning freelance journalist who has covered information security, cybercrime and technology's impact on society for almost two decades. A former research engineer, he's...