Rustock Reigned In

Chalk up a big win for the white hats in the ongoing cyberwar against the evil spammers.

Good guys take down notorious Rustock spamming botnet

Rustock, one of the largest and most notorious spam botnets, suddenly fell silent Wednesday and has remained off line.

The takedown of Rustock’s 26 command-and-control servers appears to be the result of a coordinated effort by longstanding anti-spamming groups, the most prominent of which is Spamhaus.org, according to cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs, who broke the story.

Rustock’s control servers directed the activities of hundreds of thousands of infected PCs in homes and businesses, used primarily to deliver e-mail and social network messaging spam. Rustock is infamous for spreading ads for drugs from unlicensed online pharmacies.

Details of how the takedown was achieved are unclear; Rustock’s control servers were renowned for being nigh impregnable.

Rustock has been around for at least three years, and late last year had doubled its spam output over the previous year; in 2010, Rustock sent out more than 44 billion spam emails per day, accounting for as much as 48% of all spam, and had more than one million bots under its control, according to MessageLabs, Symantec’ messaging security division.

See also:
Rustock Botnet Flatlined with No Spam Activity
Notorious Spamming Botnet, Rustock, Takes a Fall
Rustock botnet’s operations disrupted
Major spam network silenced mid-campaign
Rustock botnet goes quiet again
The World’s Largest Spambot Network Goes Quiet
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Rustock Botnet is Down, But Maybe Not Out
Rustock botnet

It still amazes me how the botnet spammers find hundreds of thousands of computers to infect. If everyone would just keep their software patches up to date, botnets wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. It’s like leaving the front door to your house wide open with a sign that says “burglars welcome”.

/one of the biggest upshots of the Rustock takedown is that if you want to buy Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs in the future, you’re going to have to go see your doctor, because the spam offers will hopefully no longer flood your email inbox

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It’s Extra Special Patch Tuesday!

Yep, this gaping hole in Windows is so bad that Microsoft couldn’t even wait until next week’s regularly scheduled Patch Tuesday to try and fix it.

Microsoft issues emergency security patch for million dollar Windows flaw

Microsoft today rushed out an emergency patch for Windows Vista and Windows 7 PCs just eight days before its next Patch Tuesday.

The software giant issues security patches on the second Tuesday of each month, and only rarely issues so-called out-of-band patches. The company has never issued an emergency patch this close to Patch Tuesday, says Jason Miller, data and security team leader at patch management firm, Shavlik Technologies.

“Coming out with this patch this close to a Patch Tuesday is severe,” says Miller. “People should be paying attention to this one, and patch as soon as possible.”

Importantly, the emergency patch does nothing for hundreds of millions of PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2000, since Microsoft last month stopped issuing security updates for those older versions of its flagship operating system. The company continues to urge Windows XP SP2 users, in particular, to upgrade to Windows XP SP3, which will continue to get security updates, or to buy new Windows 7 PCs.

Update: To be clear, this patch will work on Windows XP SP3, Windows Server 2003 SP2; Windows Vista, Window Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2. It will not work on Windows XP SP2 or Windows Server 2000.

At the Black Hat and Def Con security conferences in Las Vegas last week, attendees referred to this Windows flaw as a $1 million vulnerability. Savvy hackers can tweak a basic component of all versions of Windows, called LNK. This is the simple coding that enables shortcut program icons to appear on your desktop.

No one in the legit world knew the LNK flaw existed until mid July, when security blogger Brian Krebs began reporting on a sophisticated worm spreading via USB thumb drives. That worm, known has Stuxnet, took advantage of the newly-discovered flaw to run a malicious program designed specifically to breach Siemens SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) software systems. Over a period of months the attackers had infected Siemens SCADA controls in power plants and factories in Iran, Indonesia, India and some Middle East nations, according to antivirus firm Symantec.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-046 – Critical
Microsoft ships rush patch for Windows shortcut bug
Microsoft issues emergency patch for Windows shortcut link vulnerability
Microsoft Patches Windows Shell Vulnerability
Microsoft’s New Patch for Windows Shortcut Exploit
Emergency patch closes LNK hole in Windows
Microsoft sticks to plan, denies emergency patch for XP SP2

The new emergency patch is here, the new emergency patch is here!

/so, if your Windows didn’t automatically update, you’d better do it now