Take down of the Virut Botnet in Progress

Virut is being targeted now in an effort of allied security forces. Virut is a very dangerous botnet, which when infecting your computer can cause irreversible damage to your files, can steal a lot of personal information, and cause you to lose almost all of your data.

(Our security arm, SecuraGeek Forums, published an article helpful to users about Virut a few years ago, here.)

This takedown effort involved researchers of Poland’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), Russian CERT-GIB, and the Spamhaus Project that aimed at disrupting the operations of the Virut botnet, which involved 300,000 some infected machines.

In December, the Spamhaus Project helped to work against all the domains owned in the Virut botnet, and attempted to have them shutdown. Most of the domains, if not all, were registered under the .pl cc TLD. However, the gang behind the botnet moved all of the malicious domain names toward a new registrar called home.pl.

The botnet’s operations were limited a bit during this time, when NASK (Research and Academic Network) in Poland, began to move on the infrastructure of this botnet. The NASK operates the Poland CERT and is the national registry of the .pl domain. Therefore, its presence in this situation is very important.

“In past few days, Spamhaus has been in close contact with the sponsoring registrar (home.pl), the Polish Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT.pl) to get the domain names suspended,” Morrison blogged Jan. 19. “In cooperation with the Polish CERT and the registrar home.pl, we managed to get all the Virut domain names within the .pl ccTLD sinkholed.”

“In addition, Spamhaus reached out to the Austrian CERT and the Russian-based Company Group-IB CERT-GIB to shut down the remaining Virut domains within the .at and .ru ccTLDs,” he added. “In cooperation with Spamhaus, and due to the evidence and intelligence provided by Spamhaus, CERT-GIB was able to shut down all the Virut domains within the .ru ccTLD within a few hours.”

Symantec researchers have noted that the maintainers of Virut are also involved with the Waledac botnet. The evidence is due in part to the malware writers behind both botnets using affiliate programs to spread the threats. It’s been noted also that Virut has helped to spread malware such as TDL, Zeus, and others. Also, Symantec warned that Virut had been used to redeploy Waledac. Problem is, the Waledac botnet was seized by Microsoft in 2010. So, redeploying that botnet is opening up the fields for lots of trouble.

As this takedown has occurred, three dozen domain names have been seized in total, with no sign (to researchers) of them starting back up on a different network. Since domains are so critical in the infrastructure, it’s going to be difficult for the malware writers to orchestrate a new plan.

For the past five or so years, domains like ircgalaxy.pl, zief.pl, etc. were used by the botnet…now are seized! It’s not exactly clear how NASK will affect the future operations of Virut, but right now, things are looking good and steady!

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2 responses to “Take down of the Virut Botnet in Progress”

  1. Tony says :

    Do any of the current malware protection products prevent this type of infection?

    • Jay Pfoutz says :

      It’s possible antivirus programs will be able to prevent it, but if it travels through an exploit, which commonly does, then there isn’t a better way to protect other than safe surfing and an updated Java/Adobe Reader/Flash.

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