Fraudsters Declare War on Anti-Scam Services
Spammers have been attacking and threatening several of the groups and individuals who have been performing some of the most important work in hobbling online scams, spam and computer viruses.
The SANS Internet Storm Center on Thursday found a piece of malicious code (called "sans.exe") designed to update a group of several thousand infected computers that SANS has been monitoring. The code includes text strings that suggest an attack on the center if two of its crime fighters don't stop interfering with his money-making spam operations. The message, in part, read:
"You better f*** off SANS.org especially that [SANS chief technology officer] Johannes Ullrich (phone and e-mail address deleted) and Kevin Hong (phone and e-mail address deleted). I really don't have anything against you, just piss off alright?" [sic]
"I guess we always felt like this [was] going to happen at some point," Ullrich said in an online chat with Security Fix this morning. "Adding taunts like this to their code isn't what you would expect from a professional criminal trying to stay low profile. [It] points to a more juvenile 'hooligan' mentality," than hardened cyber crook.
Last month, a number of anti-spam Web sites came under a sustained "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attack, an electronic assault during which the attackers use thousands of compromised personal computers to overwhelm a target with so much bogus traffic that the PCs can't accommodate legitimate visitors.
The attacks were made possible by tens of thousands - perhaps millions - of computers infected by the recent e-mail virus known as the "Storm worm. The virus links all infected computers into a peer-to-peer data network using the same technology as the eDonkey file-sharing network. The attackers later instructed the networked machines to attack sites such as spam trackers Spamhaus and the personal Web site of Joe Stewart, the SecureWorks researcher who conducted some of the most detailed analysis of the Storm worm.
The Web sites for CastleCops -- an all-volunteer, online scam fighting community -- also have been under a consistent denial-of-service attack for the past couple of weeks. Its main site and user forum are not working again this morning. Security Fix has spotlighted the laudable work this volunteer group does in bringing down phishing Web sites and analyzing new malicious software.
CastleCops co-founder Robin Laudanski said the intermittent site shutdowns have been inconvenient, but added that they have bolstered support for the group from within the security community.
"I take [the attacks] as a compliment because if we weren't putting a dent in the bad guys' pocketbooks, we wouldn't be getting attacked," Laudanski said. "It means we're being a pain, and that we're doing something right."
February 23, 2007; 1:40 PM ET
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