In a global operation coordinated by the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, a group of leading IT companies and law enforcement agencies have disrupted the Simda botnet.
Including a network of thousands of infected PCs around the world, the SIMDA malware collects information about an affected system, checks for the presence of certain processes, including those used for malware analysis and modifies HOSTS files, which redirects users to malicious sites whenever they try to access legitimate sites.
The botnet is believed to have infected and controlled 770, 000 computers worldwide, with the vast majority of victims located in the US (more than 90,000 new infections since the start of 2015).
In a series of simultaneous actions last week, ten command and control servers were seized in the Netherlands, with additional servers taken down in the US, Russia, Luxembourg and Poland. The operation involved officers from the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) in the Netherlands, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US, the Police Grand-Ducale Section Nouvelles Technologies in Luxembourg and the Russian Ministry of the Interior’s Cybercrime Department “K” supported by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Moscow. Also involved were security firms including Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft, Trend Micro and Japan’s Cyber Defense Institute.
Simda worked as a “pay-per-install” malware which allowed cyber criminals to earn money by selling access to the botnet to other criminals who then installed additional programs on it. It was also used by a number of infected websites to redirect to exploit kits and the botnet has been seen in more than 190 countries, with the US and UK among the worst affected.
Sanjay Virmani, director of the INTERPOL Digital Crime Centre, said: “This successful operation highlights the value of, and need for partnerships involving national and international law enforcement and private industry in the fight against the global threat of cyber crime.
“The operation has dealt a significant blow to the Simda botnet. INTERPOL will continue its work to assist member countries in protecting their citizens from cyber criminals and to identify other emerging threats.”
Vitaly Kamluk, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, currently on secondment to INTERPOL, said that the collaborative effort of both private and public sectors is crucial here, as every party makes its own important contribution to the joint project.
“In this case, Kaspersky Lab’s role was to provide technical analysis of the bot, collect botnet telemetry from the Kaspersky Security Network and advise on takedown strategies,” he said.