Criminals fight for botnet supremacy

Warring cybercriminals could claim thousands of victims in a turf war for control of botnets, Alcatel-Lucent warns.
Staffer Dave Bishop said the battle to control the malware that turns PCs into unwitting players in cyber crime networks will generate “a lot of collateral damage,” and points out that it is everyday users who will suffer.
Bishop notes that price wars have broken out over rental botnets – where criminals can lease the networks for a set period of time -, and that malware is increasingly written to eradicate rival code to grow the number of machines a particular botnet controls.
“Things like spamming or a DDOS attack can be launched from a botnet with devastating impact, especially if the botnet is large,” Bishop notes in an official blog.
The Zeus botnet, which controls around 4 million PCs in the US, is currently being attacked by SpyEye, which contains code to kill the incumbent malware.
Zeus is being targeted because it has already caused losses worth $100 million (€74 million) according to FBI figures, Bishop said, noting that the battle makes previous “worm wars” seem like small fry.
Bishop says PC users must be vigilant, ensuring their anti-virus software is updated regularly and keeping an eye on their bank and credit card transactions.
“An un-patched machine is like playing Russian Roulette with bullets in all of the chambers,” he notes.