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Botnets Target Websites With 'Posers'
Security
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 03 June 2010 17:07

From Dark Reading

Tens of thousands of bots are cracking CAPTCHAs and joining websites in order to steal information, extort mone

Botnets increasingly are creating phony online accounts on legitimate websites and online communities in order to steal information from enterprises.

This alternative form of targeted attack by botnets has become popular as botnet tools have made bots easier to purchase and exploit. Merrick Furst, botnet expert and distinguished professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, says bots are showing up "en masse" to customer-facing websites -- posing as people.

 



"We are seeing tens of thousands of false registrations getting through existing defense-in-depth to get accounts on websites," says Furst, who is also a member of the board of directors at Pramana and a co-founder of Damballa, both security firms that specialize in botnet mitigation. And these bots can walk off with data from those sites, either for competitive purposes or for selling the stolen information on the black market, according to new data from Pramana, a startup that spun off from Georgia Tech.

"Instead of humans, bots are showing up en masse" on auction, social networking, and various other websites that require registration for participation or comments or webmail, he says. "If job listings are your valuable content, what if your competitors set bots to screen-scrape and take your content out the door? This screen-scraping is costing a lot of money and becoming way more prevalent."

Botnet operators are poking holes in CAPTCHA defenses. Pramana, which uses what it calls "HumanPresent" technology that looks at online activity in real-time in order to catch fraud before it occurs, saw 60 percent of bots crashing through CAPTCHAS and other defenses at one Fortune 100 client's website.

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