Botnet used to boost online gaming scores

Randex worm shenanigans


Exclusive Teenagers convicted last week of setting up a huge network of compromised Windows PCs used it to gain an unfair advantage in online gaming - not to send spam.

Detective Sergeant Steve Santorelli, of Scotland Yard's Computer Crime Unit, said the two principal suspects were members of a gaming clan which used illicit access to an estimated 30,000 PCs to generate clicks and therefore gain more points in a game called Outwar.

Suspects in the case used the Randex worm to establish a 30,000 strong botnet used to carry out "low profile DDoS attacks" and steal the CD keys for games, he explained. "They had a huge weapon and didn't use as much as they could have done," Santorelli told El Reg. "The main damage caused in the case is down to the cost of cleaning up infected PCs."

The case began earlier this year with a tip-off from Germany c't magazine to Scotland Yard's Computer Crime Unit that virus writers in the UK were selling the IP addresses of PCs infected with Trojans to would-be spammers. Subsequent investigations by Scotland Yard along with Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police assisted by Microsoft identified a number of suspects: two in the US, one in Canada and one in the UK.

The main suspects responsible for the botnet were in the UK and Canada. They were both aged fifteen at the time of the offences and can't be named for legal reasons. The UK suspect last week received a six month "referral order" from South Cheshire juvenile court in Crewe. The Canadian suspect was arrested in May 2004 and subsequently sentenced to nine months probation.

Now that all legal proceedings are concluded, investigators are free to talk about the particulars of the case for the first time refuting early reports that the botnet was used to distribute spam.

Det. Sgt. Santorelli explained: "At the time of the arrest of the UK suspect, some 9,500 clients were logged into the IRC server that was controlling the botnet.

Due to the dynamic nature of the network, in that machines would have been logging in and out throughout the day as they were booted up and shut down by their legitimate users, we estimate that the total number of infected machines was at least 30,000 and probably more during the lifetime of this particular botnet. This botnet was not used for any particularly nefarious purpose but it shows how law enforcement, industry and other organisations are working together to combat these networks of infected machines." ®

Related stories

Teenage British Trojan distributor escapes jail
Rise of the Botnets
Telenor takes down 'massive' botnet
Property tycoon buys fantasy island


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022