From Kelly Jackson Higgins’ “Researchers Find Massive Botnet On Nearly 2 Million Infected Consumer, Business, Government PCs” (Dark Reading: 22 April 2009):
Researchers have discovered a major botnet operating out of the Ukraine that has infected 1.9 million machines, including large corporate and government PCs mainly in the U.S.
The botnet, which appears to be larger than the infamous Storm botnet was in its heyday, has infected machines from some 77 government-owned domains — 51 of which are U.S. government ones, according to Ophir Shalitin, marketing director of Finjan, which recently found the botnet. Shalitin says the botnet is controlled by six individuals and is hosted in Ukraine.
Aside from its massive size and scope, what is also striking about the botnet is what its malware can do to an infected machine. The malware lets an attacker read the victim’s email, communicate via HTTP in the botnet, inject code into other processes, visit Websites without the user knowing, and register as a background service on the infected machine, for instance.
Finjan says victims are infected when visiting legitimate Websites containing a Trojan that the company says is detected by only four of 39 anti-malware tools, according to a VirusTotal report run by Finjan researchers.
Around 45 percent of the bots are in the U.S., and the machines are Windows XP. Nearly 80 percent run Internet Explorer; 15 percent, Firefox; 3 percent, Opera; and 1 percent Safari. Finjan says the bots were found in banks and large corporations, as well as consumer machines.