New variant of Conficker strikes

New Conficker variant talks to servers associated with the Waledac botnet, and downloads an ‘unknown’ payload.

Security researchers have discovered a new variant of Conficker, which has downloaded a payload from servers connected to the Waledac botnet.

A week after the April Fool’s Conficker scare, a ‘dropper’ came through which updated Conficker and added new functionality through its P2P connectivity.

The new Conficker variant was also talking to servers and websites that were already known for their associations with the Waledac family of malware.

Trend Micro said in an interview with eWeek it had already downloaded a further component that it was currently analysing, but had some "rootkit capabilities".

Trend Micro security expert Rik Ferguson said it could be the payload which could finally monetise the botnet: “These components have so far been missing, but could this finally be the ‘other boot dropping’ that we have all been been waiting for?”

Waledac is a spambot that steals sensitive information and turns computers into spam zombies.

It was suspected to be the latest threat from the people behind Storm, which could mean that the same cybercriminals were behind all three threats.

Ferguson said to IT PRO: “It tallies with some of the assumptions people have made about Conficker – that the first variant was actively trying to avoid Ukraine because Waledac was Eastern European.”

The worm also re-enabled propagation functionality which had previously been disabled on previous versions.

By connecting to one of myspace.com, msn.com, ebay.com and cnn.com, the worm helped establish whether a computer was internet connected or whether it could only infect a local network.

Users were warned not to be alarmed, and to continue to exercise caution and implement security best practices such as keeping patches current and antivirus definitions up to date.

More on the Conficker threat is here, while the worm threat of 2009 has also been looked at.