Annual Computer Security Applications Conference 2011 Technical Track Papers

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Detecting Malware’s Failover C&C Strategies with SQUEEZE

The ability to remote-control infected PCs is a fundamental
component of modern malware campaigns. At the same time, the command and control (C&C) infrastructure that provides this capability is an attractive target for mitigation. In recent years, more or less successful takedown operations
have been conducted against botnets employing both client-server and peer-to-peer C&C architectures. To improve their
robustness against such disruptions of their illegal business, botnet operators routinely deploy redundant C&C infrastructure and implement failover C&C strategies.

In this paper, we propose techniques based on multi-path exploration [1] to discover how malware behaves when faced with the simulated take-down of some of the network endpoints it communicates with. We implement these techniques in a tool called Squeeze, and show that it allows us to detect backup C&C servers, increasing the coverage of an automatically generated C&C blacklist by 19.7%, and can trigger domain generation algorithms that malware implements for disaster-recovery.


Matthias Neugschwandtner    
Vienna University of Technology

Paolo Milani Comparetti    
Vienna University of Technology

Christian Platzer    
Vienna University of Technology


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