For those of you still using Windows, here’s a sobering look at why you shouldn’t: an analysis of the Torpig botnet by an academic group that managed to take over its command & control structure for a few days.
The report is tech-heavy, but well worth the effort to plow through.
Here are some of the high points…
Why do the bad guys do this? It’s all about the money, honey:
In ten days, Torpig obtained the credentials of 8,310 accounts at 410 different institutions.
… we extracted 1,660 unique credit and debit card numbers from our
Does an antivirus program help?
Torpig has been distributed to its victims as part of Mebroot. Mebroot is a rootkit that takes control of a machine by replacing the system’s Master Boot Record (MBR). This allows Mebroot to be executed at boot time, before the operating system is loaded, and to remain undetected by most anti-virus tools
What happens next?
Mebroot injects these modules […] into a number of applications. These applications include the Service Control Manager (services.exe), the file manager, and 29 other popular applications, such as web browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera), FTP clients (Leech-FTP, CuteFTP), email clients (e.g., Thunderbird, Outlook, Eudora), instant messengers (e.g., Skype, ICQ), and system programs (e.g., the command line interpreter cmd.exe). After the injection, Torpig can inspect all the data handled by these programs and identify and store interesting pieces of information, such as credentials for online accounts and stored passwords.
If you think hiding behind a firewall router will save you, you’re wrong:
By looking at the IP addresses in the Torpig headers we are able to determine that 144,236 (78.9%) of the infected machines were behind a NAT, VPN, proxy, or firewall.
If you think you’ve got a secure password, you’re wrong:
Torpig bots stole 297,962 unique credentials (i.e., username and password pairs), sent by 52,540 different Torpig-infected machines over the ten days we controlled the botnet
If you think a separate password manager will save you, you’re wrong.
It is also interesting to observe that 38% of the credentials stolen by Torpig were obtained from the password manager of browsers, rather than by intercepting an actual login session.
Somewhat more info on Mebroot from F-Secure.
Remember, the virus / worm / Trojan / botnet attacks you read about all the time only affect Windows machines. Linux isn’t invulnerable, but it’s certainly safer right now. If you’re running Windows, it’s only a matter of time until your PC is not your own, no matter how smart you think you are.
If you have one or two must-gotta-use Windows programs, set up a dedicated Token Windows Box and use it only for those programs. Network it (behind a firewall) if you like, but don’t do any email / Web browsing / messaging / VOIP on it. Just Say No!
For everything else, run some version of Linux. It’ll do what you need to get done with less hassle and far less risk. It’s free for the download, free for the installation, and includes all the functions you’re used to paying money for. Just Do It!
If you think using Linux is too much of a hassle, imagine what putting your finances back together will be like. Remember, the bad guys will steal everything you’ve ever put on your PC, destroy your identity, and never get caught.
Now you know… why are you still stalling?