By Robert McMillan
IDG News Service
December 9, 2009
Security researchers have spotted the Zeus botnet running an
unauthorized command and control center on Amazon's EC2 cloud computing
This marks the first time Amazon Web Services' cloud infrastructure has
been used for this type of illegal activity, according to Don DeBolt,
director of threat research with HCL Technologies, a contractor that
does security research for CA. The hackers didn't do this with Amazon's
permission, however. They got onto Amazon's infrastructure by first
hacking into a Web site that was hosted on Amazon's servers and then
secretly installing their command and control infrastructure.
DeBolt declined to say whose Web site was hacked to get onto Amazon's
cloud, but the Zeus software has now been removed, he said. Zeus is a
password-stealing botnet. Variants of this malware have been linked to
more than US$100 million in bank fraud in the past year.
He thinks the hackers may have just stumbled on a Web site with a
security vulnerability -- they may have hacked the site's software or
simply stolen an administrative password from a desktop computer to get
on the site. "I think it's more a target of opportunity than a target of
choice," he said.
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