In what is one of the first attacks of its kind, a botnet dubbed WireX swept across 100 countries, controlling over 120,000 IP addresses at its peak. The factor that made WireX so unique was the fact that the botnet was made up of Android-powered devices that had one of 300 malicious apps downloaded from the Google Play Store.
How It Works
WireX was designed to use HTTP requests to bombard their targets, directing as many as 20,000 requests to a target every second to use up the target’s server resources. This number of requests may not have been effective, if it weren’t for where WireX would direct its attack on the victim site. Rather than just sending 20,000 requests every second to the website as a whole, WireX would target specific pages that used more of the site’s resources. Search pages were frequently targeted for this reason.
Why Is WireX So Nasty?
There are a few factors that contribute to why WireX managed to cause such a big fuss, so quickly.
First off, although WireX is an Android-powered mobile botnet, the traffic it sends to the targeted website appears to be regular mobile browser traffic. This is a problem, because most experts who focus on defending companies from DDoS attacks utilize filters that help them to sort the malicious traffic out from the legitimate traffic. This is more difficult with WireX, as it includes its own fully-functioning browser that hides its information from the targeted system.
In addition to this, WireX also leverages SSL as a part of its attacks, which usually protects an Android user’s browser session. In this case, however, it only makes WireX more difficult to detect.
Defeating the DDoS
It ultimately took a team of experts from Cloudflare, Akamai, Flashpoint, Dyn, Google, Team Cymru and EiskIQ to stop WireX. The seven companies needed to pool their resources and data on WireX in order to identify it as a mobile-based attack, and then to identify the 300 malicious Google Play Store apps that delivered it. While these apps have not been named to the public, they were often media players, ringtones, or storage managers. Google has since blocked these apps from the Play Store, and has also removed them from the devices that were infected.
So, What Can You Do?
Your most effective defense against threats like WireX and other applications that sneak in malware is to simply not download applications that you don’t trust, as well as to educate employees on why they shouldn’t either. For more information on the latest threats and how you can protect yourself, call Computerware at (703) 821-8200.