The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) jointly with law enforcement partners in Germany seized the infrastructure of a Russian botnet called as ‘RSOCKS’ that hacked millions of computers and other electronic devices around the world.
Generally, a botnet is a number of Internet-connected devices, each of which runs one or more bots. Botnets can be used to perform Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks, steal data, send spam, and allow the attacker to access the device and its connection.
RSOCKS Botnet Compromised Millions of Devices
The RSOCKS botnet primarily targeted Internet of Things (IoT) devices including industrial control systems, time clocks, routers, audio/video streaming devices, and smart garage door openers, which are connected to, and can communicate over, the internet, and therefore, are assigned IP addresses.
At present, it is compromising other types of devices, including Android devices and conventional computers.
According to the U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman, “The RSOCKS botnet compromised millions of devices throughout the world”.
“Cyber criminals will not escape justice regardless of where they operate. Working with public and private partners around the globe, we will relentlessly pursue them while using all the tools at our disposal to disrupt their threats and prosecute those responsible”, he added.
Usually, a genuine service provides IP addresses to its clients for a fee, the service provides access to IP addresses that it leases from internet service providers (ISPs). The authorities says, the RSOCKS botnet offered its clients access to IP addresses assigned to devices that had been hacked.
The DoJ explains that the RSOCKS botnet rented out the compromised devices’ IP addresses to cybercriminals at daily, weekly, and monthly rates via an internet clear web, as opposed to dark web, website.
The ‘Customers’ were charged between $30 per day for access to a pool of 2,000 proxy computers and $200 per day for access to 90,000 proxies. Now the customer might download a list of IP addresses and ports associated with it and route malicious internet traffic through the compromised victim devices to hide the true source of the traffic. This may end up with large scale attacks called credential stuffing, and anonymizing.
Investigators used Undercover Purchases to Get Access to the RSOCKS Botnet
An undercover operation mounted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in early 2017, when it made hidden purchases from RSOCKS to map out its infrastructure and its victims, allowing it to determine around 325,000 infected devices.
Investigators analyzed that the RSOCKS botnet compromised the victim device by conducting ‘brute force attacks’. Large public and private entities have been affected, including a university, a hotel, a television studio, and an electronics manufacturer, as well as home businesses and individuals.
“This operation disrupted a highly sophisticated Russia-based cybercrime organization that conducted cyber intrusions in the United States and abroad,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy.
“Our fight against cybercriminal platforms is a critical component in ensuring cybersecurity and safety in the United States. The actions we are announcing today are a testament to the FBI’s ongoing commitment to pursuing foreign threat actors in collaboration with our international and private sector partners.”
Eventually, the DOJ encourages the victims to report the incident online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) www.ic3.gov.