Avalanche Botnet Takedown
Date: 1 December 2016
The purpose of this alert is to bring attention to the recent “Avalanche” botnet takedown operation.
On November 30th, 2016, a worldwide cooperative takedown of the Avalanche botnet took place. “Avalanche” refers to a worldwide crimeware-as-a-service (CaaS) network infrastructure operated by cyber criminals to conduct malicious activities, including: denial-of-service attacks, malware distribution; and phishing and money-mule operations.
The global cooperative effort to disrupt Avalanche network infrastructure involved one of the largest-ever sinkholing operations, with over 800,000 domains blocked/seized/sinkholed. Avalanche utilized the double fast-flux DNS technique to attempt to hide itself, acting as command-and-control infrastructure for multiple malware families, including:
- Windows-encryption Trojan horse (WVT) (aka Matsnu, Injector,Rannoh,Ransomlock.P)
- URLzone (aka Bebloh)
- VM-ZeuS (aka KINS)
- Bugat (aka Feodo, Geodo, Cridex, Dridex, Emotet)
- newGOZ (aka GameOverZeuS)
- Tinba (aka TinyBanker)
- Vawtrak (aka Neverquest)
- Smart App
- Trusteer App
- QakBot (aka Qbot, PinkSlip Bot)
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police led the law enforcement effort in Canada, with the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre assisting with Canadian victim notification and remediation.
As the Avalanche botnet is associated with several malware families and a variety of malicious activity, identifying compromises and/or infections may require thorough and varying action.
CCIRC recommends that organizations review the following mitigation information/preventive measures and consider their implementation in the context of their network environment:
- Employ anti-malware tools on your assets and/or infrastructure. Tools which can both detect/identify and remediate/remove infections should be sought. CCIRC does not endorse or support any specific product/vendor. Anti-malware tools should be maintained and kept up-to-date, with all data/software downloaded to your infrastructure scanned before executing/opening.
- Employ a data backup and recovery plan for all critical information. Perform and test regular backups to limit the impact of data or system loss and to expedite the recovery process. Since network storage can also be affected, this data should be kept on a separate device, and backups should be stored offline.
- Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running. Application whitelisting is one of the best security strategies as it allows only specified programs to run, while blocking all others, including malicious software.
- Keep your operating system and software up-to-date with the latest patches. Vulnerable applications and operating systems are the target of most attacks. Ensuring these are patched with the latest updates greatly reduces the number of exploitable entry points available to an attacker.
- Restrict users’ ability (permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications, and apply the principle of “Least Privilege” to all systems and services. Restricting these privileges may prevent malware from running or limit its capability to spread through the network.
- Avoid enabling macros from email attachments. If a user opens the attachment and enables macros, embedded code will execute the malware on the machine. For enterprises or organizations, it may be best to block email messages with attachments from suspicious sources.
- Follow safe practices when browsing the Web.
- Do not follow unsolicited Web links in emails.
It is important to note that infections can be devastating to an individual or organization, and that recovery can be a difficult process which may require the services of a reputable data recovery specialist.
US-CERT Avalanche Information:
Shadowserver Avalanche Information:
CCIRC Technical Report TR11-001 (Malware Infection Recovery Guide):
Note to Readers
In support of Public Safety's mission to build a safe and resilient Canada, CCIRC's mandate is to help ensure the security and resilience of the vital non-federal government cyber systems that underpin Canada's national security, public safety and economic prosperity. As Canada's computer security incident response team, CCIRC is Canada's national coordination centre for the prevention and mitigation of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from cyber incidents on non-federal government systems. It does this by providing authoritative advice and support, and coordinating information sharing and incident response.
Please note, CCIRC PGP key has recently been updated.
For general information, please contact Public Safety Canada's Public Affairs division at:
Telephone: 613-944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118
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