Posts Tagged: panda security


3
May 10

Accused Mariposa Botnet Operators Sought Jobs at Spanish Security Firm

Luis Corrons spent much of the last year helping Spanish police with an investigation that led to the arrest of three local men suspected of operating and renting access to a massive and global network of hacked computers. Then, roughly 60 days after their arrest, something strange happened:  Two of them unexpectedly turned up at Corrons’ office and asked to be hired as security researchers.

Corrons, a technical director and blogger for Spanish security firm Panda Security, said he received a visit from the hackers on the morning of March 22. The two men, known by the online nicknames “Netkairo” and “Ostiator,” were arrested in February by Spanish police for their alleged role in running the “Mariposa” botnet, a malware distribution platform that spread malicious software  to more than 12 million Internet addresses from 190 countries (mariposa is Spanish for “butterfly”).

Now, here the two Mariposa curators were at Panda’s headquarters in Bilbao, their resumes in hand, practically begging for a job, Corrons said.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it, and I thought someone in the office was playing a practical joke on me,” Corrons said. “But these guys were the real guys, and they were serious.

“Ostiator told me, ‘The thing is, with everything that’s been happening, we’re not earning any money at the moment,” Corrons recalled. “He said, ‘We thought we could look for some kind of agreement in which both sides would benefit. We think we have knowledge [that] could be useful to Panda and thought we could have some kind of agreement with Panda.'”

Spanish police do not typically release the names of individuals who have been arrested, and Netkairo and Ostiator haven’t yet been charged with any crime. But Corrons recognized that the names and addresses on the resumes matched those that police had identified as residences belonging to Netkairo and Ostiator.

Corrons said Panda’s lawyers were unwilling to release the full names of the two men that visited Panda Labs, but said Ostiator’s first name is Juan Jose, and that he is a 25-year-old male from Santiago de Compostela. Corrons said Netkairo is a 31-year-old from Balmaseda named Florencio.

Shortly after the arrests were announced, local Spanish media said the third individual arrested by Spanish authorities in connection with Mariposa — a 30-year-old identified by his initials “JPR” — used the hacker nickname “Johny Loleante” and lived in Molina de Segura, Murcia.

On Mar. 3, I had the opportunity to interview Captain Cesar Lorenzana, deputy head technology crime division of the Spanish Civil Guard. Lorenzana told Krebsonsecurity.com that Netkairo and his associate were earning about 3,000 Euros each month renting out the Mariposa botnet to other hackers.

Interviewing the same hackers less than three weeks later, Corrons asked them how they got started creating Mariposa.

“Basically, they said they started it as kind of a hobby, and that they weren’t working at the time,” Corrons said. “Suddenly, they started to earn money, a few hundred Euros a week to start, and then discovered they couldn’t stop. And the whole time, their network kept growing.”

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9
Mar 10

Energizer Battery Charger Software Included Backdoor

Security experts at Symantec have discovered a software application made for a USB-based battery charger sold by Energizer actually included a hidden backdoor that allowed unauthorized remote access to the user’s system. The backdoor Trojan is easily removed, but Symantec believes the tainted software may have been in circulation since May 2007.

The product is the Energizer Duo USB battery charger, a device that charges batteries by drawing power from a USB port. The downloadable software that goes with the product — designed to monitor the charger’s performance and status — was available for both Mac and Windows, but according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) only the Windows version was affected.

Symantec said it found the backdoor after analyzing a component of the USB charger software sent to it by US-CERT. The backdoor is designed to run every time the computer starts, and then listen for commands from anyone who connects. Among the actions an attacker can take after connecting include downloading a file; running a file; sending a list of files on the system; and offloading the files to the remote attacker.

U.S. CERT has published an advisory that explains in greater detail how to remove this backdoor, should you have been unlucky enough to have installed the software. But the incident is the latest reminder that USB-based devices should always be considered hostile. At the very least, users should disable the autorun capability in Windows (which many malware families use to piggyback on removable media), and thoroughly scan any removable media for malicious files.

In another incident of malware hitchhiking on USB devices, Panda Security published a blog post Monday saying it had found a brand new Vodaphone HTC Magic mobile with Google’s Android operating system that came factory-packed with malicious software. According to Panda, the malware, which took advantage of the autorun functionality in Windows, was set up to enslave the host computer in the Mariposa botnet.


4
Mar 10

‘Mariposa’ Botnet Authors May Avoid Jail Time

Three Spanish men were arrested last month for allegedly building an international network of more than 12 million hacked PCs that were used for everything from identity theft to spamming. But according to Spanish authorities and security experts who helped unravel the crime ring, the accused may very well never see the inside of a jail cell even if they are ultimately found guilty, due to insufficient cyber crime legislation in Spain.

According to Spanish security firm Panda Security, the massive botnet, dubbed “Marioposa” (Spanish for “butterfly”), was rented out to criminals as a delivery platform for installing malicious software such as the data-stealing ZeuS Trojan and pay-per-install toolbars. Panda said the gang also stole directly from victim bank accounts, using money mules in the United States and Canada, and laundered stolen money through online gambling Web sites (pictured above is a screen shot of the Web site the men created where would-be Mariposa customers could visit for information on purchasing access to the botnet and other criminal services.)

Panda said Mariposa helped crooks steal sensitive data from more than 800,000 victims, including home users, companies, government agencies and universities in at least 190 countries. Spanish police estimate that at least 600,000 of the victimized PCs belong to Spanish citizens, and yet they concede it may be extremely challenging to put the men in jail if they are convicted at trial.

“It is almost impossible to be sent to prison for these kinds of crimes in Spain, where prison is mainly for serious crime cases,” said Captain Cesar Lorenzana, deputy head technology crime division of the Spanish Civil Guard. “In Spain, it is not a crime to own and operate a botnet or distribute malware. So even if we manage to prove they are using a botnet, we will need to prove they also were stealing identities and other things, and that is where our lines of investigation are focusing right now.”

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