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Mirai Botnet Attack

Did you know that there’s a virus called the Mirai botnet that looks for unprotected smart devices on the internet?

Table of Contents

The Mirai botnet basically looks for smart devices that are not protected, takes control of them, and builds a team of bots that can do some serious damage during cyber attacks.

Let’s take a look at how these botnets work, why we keep seeing new Mirai attacks all the time, and how to protect your devices from Mirai botnet attacks with powerful security tools.

Why did they name it Mirai?

So, ‘Mirai’ is a Japanese word that means ‘future.’ Jha, who used the name Anna-senpai, was chatting with ProxyPipe, the victim of the Mirai botnet attack and the Minecraft server when he admitted to being an anime fan. He said that the malware was named after an anime movie he had recently rewatched called ‘Mirai Nikki‘ (Future Diary).

What is the Mirai Botnet Attack?

The Mirai botnet is like a computer virus that hijacks network devices using Linux. When it takes over, it turns those devices into bots that launch big-time attacks called Mirai DDoS. The Mirai Botnet attacks involve sending a bunch of requests to a specific IP address, which can stop real people from getting through.

This attack messes up the service or totally shuts it down for everyone using IP. The Mirai botnet attack goes for the Internet of Things (IoT) or “smart” devices like routers, doorbell cameras, wireless modems, printers, and other electronics people use at home.

When did the Mirai Botnet Attack was discovered?

Back in August 2016, a bunch of white hat hackers known as MalwareMustDie uncovered the Mirai botnet attack being used in multiple assaults. At first, the attacks were aimed at Minecraft servers, but they soon spread and started causing a lot of problems for web hosts and service providers. These attacks were particularly nasty because they caused significant harm.

The Mirai attack was a nasty piece of malware that caused major problems for millions of people on the internet. It took over hundreds of thousands of devices, turning them into enslaved bots that could launch attacks inundating targets with more than one Tbit/sec of data. As a result, it upset some of the largest systems in the world, making life difficult for many internet users.

The Mirai attack: How does it operate?

The Mirai botnet worm is this nasty malware that goes after Internet of Things devices with weak security. It spreads like crazy by trying out a list of default login credentials. Once it gets into a device, it wipes out any other infections and takes over the whole thing.

To stay hidden on the device, it gets rid of any logs. Mirai was first made to work only with Linux-based Internet of Things devices, but now there are versions that work with Android-powered devices too.

The first version of Mirai was super good at exploiting security holes in cameras and routers. When it was first made, Mirai could control 67,000 devices, which allowed its creator to use up to 350,000 bots at the same time to launch Mirai botnet attacks. Most of these bots were located in South America and Asia since IoT devices in cities were increasing fast.

A botnet is like a group of computers that have been taken over by a bad person and controlled by a faraway computer. This bad person can then use this group to launch a kind of attack called a Mirai DDoS attack. The Mirai botnet attack works by sending a lot of data to a website or other computer until it can’t handle it anymore. This can be done in different ways.

The server is totally swamped by all the data it’s processing, leaving it unable to handle requests from authorized users. This means that nobody can connect to the server properly and use it.

So basically, Mirai is like a virus that goes online and looks for Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets that use the ARC CPU. These gadgets have a super basic version of the Linux operating system installed on them. If the owners haven’t changed the login and password, the Mirai botnet can get in and infect the device.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is basically a bunch of cool devices that connect to the internet. Think baby monitors, cars, routers, medical equipment, home appliances, and even your smoke alarm! It’s basically anything that you can connect to the internet these days.

Who created the Mirai Attack?

Mirai Botnet Attack

So, there’s this company called Protraf Solutions, which was started by two young guys – Paras Jha (21) and Josiah White (20). They offer some kind of fancy service to protect against Mirai DDoS attacks. But guess what? They were actually attacking the same companies they said they were protecting. That’s called racketeering, and it’s not cool.

Mirai DDOS Attack techniques

When a Mirai DDoS attack goes after its prey, it uses a bunch of different tricks and tactics – no matter which version of it you’re talking about. Among them are:

  • Flood of UDP: It bombards a targeted server with an excessive amount of UDP packets.
  • The flood of open resolver queries. DNS queries are flooded into resolvers.
  • Deluge of search engine queries. It overwhelms a server with UDP traffic and Tsource engine requests.
  • Synchronous flood. It monopolizes a server’s resources by sending an excessive amount of initial connection requests.
  • ACK flood. As a result, a server is overloaded with TCP acknowledgment packets.
  • GRE flood. Information (source IP, UDP destination port, etc.) is randomized through IP packet encapsulation inside GRE packets.
  • HTTP flood. The attack entails sending a significant volume of HTTP requests to the intended target.

History of Mirai Botnet Attack Incidents

Rutgers University (2014–2016)

Mirai Botnet Attack 2016 messed up the university’s intranet and web services. As a result, thousands of students and staff couldn’t access their grades, course schedules, and admissions data online. And you know what? It even caused the cancellation of some classes. Not cool.

OVH (September 2016)

So, there was this huge DDoS attack – like, 1 Tbit/s huge – on the biggest data center in Europe, which belongs to a French web host called OVH. They were protecting Minecraft servers from the Mirai botnet attack. But, they were able to defend the servers successfully.

Krebs on Security (September 2016)

After writing about security threats, a security researcher and journalist got hit by DDoS attacks on their website that went up to 620 Gbit/s. Later, Krebs did some more digging and found out that Jha was actually the one who invented Mirai.

ProxyPipe (September 2016)

So, ProxyPipe, a company that protects Minecraft servers from Mirai DDoS attacks, was hit with several attacks. After complaining about it, they eventually managed to get the botnet on their C2 server shut down, which thankfully put a stop to the Mirai botnet attacks.

Source code (October 2016)

Mirai’s source code was made publicly available by Prapas Jha, also known as Anna-senpai.

Dyn (October 2016)

So, three big Mirai botnet attacks on DNS service provider Dyn caused major disruptions in Europe and the US. People initially thought that groups like Anonymous and New World Hackers were responsible. Still, it turns out that a kid and a script kiddie were actually behind it all, using Mirai.

Deutsche Telekom routers (November 2016)

Somebody tried to recruit people instead of attacking them. But the problem was that they used a Mirai variation to do it, and it ended up crashing over 900,000 routers. As a result, lots of people lost their internet connection.

Lonestar Telecom (November 2016)

Over 600 attacks against Liberia’s Lonestar Telecom crippled the ISP and forced the majority of the nation offline for extended periods.

Why Mirai attack is still dangerous for us?

Even though the original creators got caught, the source code is still out there. Because of that, we now have variants such as Okiru, Satori, Masuta, and PureMasuta. One of these, PureMasuta, can turn the HNAP issue in D-Link devices into a weapon. Meanwhile, the OMG strain can turn the Internet of Things devices into proxies that let attackers stay hidden.

Whether or not a person uses the Internet or IoT devices, Mirai botnets have the potential to affect almost every part of their life. Mirai Botnets are capable of:

  • Attack ISPs, which occasionally causes a denial-of-service for authorized traffic
  • Send unsolicited emails
  • Launch DDoS assaults to take down APIs and websites.
  • Commit click-fraud
  • Complete easy CAPTCHA tasks on websites to simulate human login behavior.
  • Pilfer credit card details
  • Threatening businesses with denial-of-service attacks

By the way, have you heard about the new botnet making the rounds? It’s called IoTrooper or Reaper, depending on who you ask, and it’s way more dangerous than Mirai. Apparently, this bad boy can take over an IoT device in no time flat and it’s got way more control over its bots than Mirai botnet attack ever did. Plus, it can target even more device makers. Scary stuff, right?

The Various Mirai Botnet Attack Models

Centralized botnets

The C&C server, also known as the C2, is like the boss of a botnet. Think of it as a theatre show where the bots are the actors. These bots got infected with malware and now follow the orders of the C&Cs.

The bot sends out signals to its boss (C&C) that it has arrived on a device. The connection is kept open until the boss is ready to give the bot instructions, which could be anything from launching Mirai DDoS attacks, breaking passwords, sending out spam, and so on.

Decentralized botnets

P2P botnets are the new generation of botnets. They function as both a command server and a client, which means they don’t need a centralized server to interact with. This makes them more difficult to bring down than the centralized ones. They don’t rely on a C&C Trojan, and that’s why they’re more secure. Some examples of malware that use P2P botnets are Peacomm and Stormnet.

Tiered C&Cs

When someone controls a botnet, they often use multiple C&C servers to manage it. They might split up the bots into smaller groups or send out different things from different groups of servers. This makes it much harder to shut down the botnet because the controllers can just switch to another C&C server if one goes down.

How to be safe from Mirai Attack?

Did you know that there are already over 17 billion IoT devices online? Crazy, right? And it’s expected that by 2030, that number will skyrocket to 29 billion! That means there will be a ton of vulnerable gadgets out there just waiting to be hacked. Whether you’re guarding against Mirai botnet attacks or Mirai security, there are a few things you can do to strengthen security:

  • Update IoT devices with the most recent security patches to fix any vulnerabilities that botnets might exploit.
  • Use the most recent security updates to keep your operating systems updated.
  • Apply anti-malware software.
  • Botnets cannot directly target your IP address if you use a VPN to hide it.
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