Information about a command and control server and the threats it may pose can be gathered from a variety of sources. The best approach, however, is to analyze it’s overall activity. The botnet a C&C server employs is either all-encompassing and attacks specific user bases, or is instructed to carry out targeted attacks. Each scenario uses malware differently to ensure communication and attack goals are met. To this extent, domain generation algorithms are becoming popular implementations for such malicious activity because of the difficulty involved with detecting and blocking them.
Compromised websites are also gaining popularity and can act as command and control servers, too. Zbot and Rodecap are undoubtedly two of the most prominent C&C servers, and many free web hosting providers offer dynamic IP redirection services that can be used by everyday webmasters to spin up their own efforts in this space. Regardless of an attacker’s choice of technique, the goal is to bring vulnerable systems under their submission while making detection, attribution and forensic analysis difficult or outright impossible.
Given the level of severity associated with command and control servers, it is important that users understand the impact of their computer or digital assets becoming compromised. This is especially true as society increases its connectivity through mobile, social and smart technology. All it takes is for one asset to be compromised to set off a string of repercussions, ultimately leading to your network, itself, acting as a botnet for a C&C server. In these instances, access to personal, company and sensitive information can be easily acquired and lifted from its respective node. Even if your data isn’t worth targeting, the presence of a compromised asset could make you an accomplice to attackers in larger, more disastrous data breaches.
In fact, there are multiple issues to consider when dealing with a compromised asset or network. If left unresolved, any of your infected devices could disrupt the behavior of legitimate applications, work alongside normal functions, and even delay or impede essential services from running altogether. Investing in solutions to eradicate C&C activity, on the other hand, may very well assist cybercriminals in improving their attack vector.
In spite of real progress made in the arena of cybersecurity, efforts to obfuscate the locations of threat actors and their command and control servers continue to improve. Not only do attackers use special techniques for hiding their server locations, but dynamic IP addresses and proxy servers are something of a norm in today’s online environment. Pinpointing a C&C server, therefore, is problematic at best, and one should take care proactive measures to safeguard their hardware and valuable information.