Security Experts:

"Malware Hunter" Helps Researchers Find C&C Servers

C&C Discovery Service Launched by Shodan and Recorded Future

Recorded Future and Shodan announced on Tuesday the launch of Malware Hunter, a new crawler that allows security researchers to identify devices that act as botnet command and control (C&C) servers.

The free service has been in the works since 2015 and it initially focused on C&C servers used by remote access Trojans (RATs). While a majority of the malware families tracked by Malware Hunter are still classified as RATs, the project has been expanded to cover all types of threats.

Malware Hunter conducts Internet-wide port scans in an effort to identify servers, routers, webcams and other devices that may be communicating with RATs or other malware. Unlike traditional honeypots, which are more passive, the crawler pretends to be an infected client that wants to report back to its C&C server. It reports back to every IP on the Web as if it’s a C&C in an effort to identify malicious systems.

The service takes information from Shodan and feeds it into Recorded Future’s API in order to provide a comprehensive analysis that can help defenders identify threats and quickly shut down malicious operations.

According to Shodan, Malware Hunter has so far been used to identify more than 3,000 C&C servers leveraged by over 10 RAT families, including Dark Comet, njRAT, Poison Ivy and Gh0st RAT.

“This methodology is the first to use Shodan to locate RAT controllers before the malware samples are found,” explained Levi Gundert, vice president of intelligence and strategy at Recorded Future. “By doing it this way — signature scans for RAT controller IP addresses, observing malware through our API and cross-correlating it with a variety of sources — we are able to locate RAT controllers before the associated malware begins spreading or compromising targeted victims”

Related: Port Scanning Project Shows Scale of Exposed Systems

Related: Heartbleed Still Affects 200,000 Devices, Says Shodan

Related: Flash Player Remains Main Target of Exploit Kits

view counter
Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.