Microsoft has executed a large-scale operation against a malware network thought to be responsible for more than 7.4 million infections of Windows machines worldwide. The operation conducted by Microsoft has brought down millions of websites early this week in execution of a Nevada court order which authorized the takedown over two dozen domains belonging to the company no-ip.com which provides dynamic DNS services to its customers.
On June 26th, the court of Nevada granted Microsoft the authority to temporarily seize control over 23 domains owned by no-ip.com that represents all of the domains that power no-ip.com’ free dynamic DNS services.
The bad actors behind the attack have used for their offensives two malware known as “njrat” and “njw0rm”, two remote -access Trojan, the criminals have used the dynamic DNS services offered by no-ip.com to allow the infected machines to reach the Command & Control servers also in the case their IP addresses will change.
According Microsoft that bad actors behind the large-scale attack were using the two RAT leveraging more than 18,400 hostnames managed by no-ip.com. According Microsoft only malicious traffic flowing to and from those 18,400+ machine was interested by the operation, but marketing manager from no-ip.com Natalie Gogun revealed that the situation is different and impacted also harmless traffic with serous consequences for the customers of the company.
“They made comments that they’d only taken down bad hostnames and were supposedly redirecting all good traffic through to users, but it’s not happening, and they’re not able to handle our traffic volumes,” “Many legitimate users that use our services have been down all day.” “So, to go after 2,000 or so bad sites, [Microsoft] has taken down four million,” Gogun said.
Gogun said that the number of infected Windows machine is quite different form the one provided by Microsoft, nearly18,000 malicious hostnames involved, no-ip.com experts, in fact they have identified no more than 2,000 infected PCs. She added that four million hostnames remain offline and customers are requesting support to restore a working situation and that no-ip.com company is evaluating legal options for responding to the outage and to Microsoft’s allegations.
“We’re speaking with our lawyers about this, but right now we’re doing everything we can to fix this, and we need our users to understand that.”
Microsoft told the court of Nevada that the company no-ip.com has been repeatedly urged to take steps to curb the menace, but in reality it has always ignored the reports and alerts produced by the major security companies.
“consistently failed to take sufficient steps to correct, remedy, or prevent the abuse and to keep its domains free from malicious activity.” Microsoft told the Nevada court.
But according to Gogun, the first time Microsoft brought its concerns to no-ip.com was at 7 a.m. on June 30, when the company’s CEO received a knock on the door of his family home and was served with a copy of the court order granting Microsoft authority over the 23 no-ip.com domains.
“It’s pretty sad that Microsoft had to take such extreme measures to go about this.” “We work with law enforcement all the time, and our abuse department responds to abuse requests within 24 hours,” “It’s pretty sad that Microsoft had to take such extreme measures to go about this.” Gogun said.
The concern related to the possibility that also “clean” machines have been targeted by Microsoft in the operation, security experts are worried by the effect of such action. It’s not the first time that Microsoft is involved in the operation against the cybercrime on a large scale, in December 2013 the company in a joint operation with FBI, Europol and industry partners has decapitated the ZeroAccess botnet that hijacks search results. Early 2014 Microsoft was challenged for abuse of power because it has uprooted Tor Browser from more than 2 Million Systems to eradicate Sefnit botnet and it has done it silently without user agreement.
Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of security firm CrowdStrike, has a different opinion for the takeover of no-ip.com domains confirming that the dynamic DNS service is not considerable as a bullet-proof hosting service.
“They have always been very responsive to security researchers and law enforcement,” “I do not consider them a bullet-proof or abuse-proof host.” Alperovitch said.
Microsoft also revealed that two men were accused for the sale of the malware used in the campaign in Kuwait and Algeria.
(Security Affairs – No-IP, Microsoft)