Skynet Botnet Command and Control Servers Controlled Over Tor

Dec 8, 2012 | comments

Tor network used to command Skynet botnet
Security researchers have identified a botnet controlled by its creators over the Tor anonymity network. It's likely that other botnet operators will adopt this approach.

The botnet is called Skynet and can be used to launch DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks, generate Bitcoins -- a type of virtual currency -- using the processing power of graphics cards installed in infected computers, download and execute arbitrary files or steal login credentials for websites, including online banking ones.

However, what really makes this botnet stand out is that its command and control (C&C) servers are only accessible from within the Tor anonymity network using the Tor Hidden Service protocol.
Tor hidden services are most commonly Web servers, but can also be Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Secure Shell (SSH) and other types of servers. These services can only be accessed from inside the Tor network through a random-looking hostname that ends in the .onion pseudo-top-level domain.

The Hidden Service protocol was designed to hide the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the clients from the service and the IP address of the service from the clients, making it almost impossible for the parties involved to determine each other's physical location or real identity. Like all traffic passing through the Tor network, the traffic between a Tor client and a Tor hidden service is encrypted and is randomly routed through a series of other computers acting as Tor relays.

As far as I understand, there is no technical way neither to trace and definitely neither to take down the Hidden Services used for C&C.
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