Score one for the good guys. A team led by Microsoft’s DCU (Digital Crimes Unit) that includes Symantec, NTT Ltd, ESET, and Lumen’s Black Lotus Labs is working on something new. They have launched a sustained, coordinated attack on Trickbot’s infrastructure in a bid to destroy it, preventing the hackers who control it from making and launching new campaigns against servers around the world.
Microsoft fired the opening shots in the campaign against the group, securing permission from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to take out 19 IP addresses that Trickbot’s handlers used to control infected computers.
While the initial salvo certainly got the hackers’ attention, they moved quickly to rebuild their infrastructure. In a twist that Microsoft’s coalition hadn’t counted on, the hackers reached out to their partners. Their partners control the Emotet botnet and got their assistance as well, with Emotet’s bots being reprogrammed to launch attacks using Trickbot.
Bolstered by Emotet’s vast botnet, Trickbot’s controllers hit back fast and hard, launching a series of new attacks against a wide range of targets, and for a time, the outcome of the campaign was very much in doubt. Microsoft, however, has vast resources and they kept the pressure on.
An update, posted on October 18, reads in part, as follows:
“As of October 18, we’ve worked with partners around the world to eliminate 94 percent of Trickbot’s critical operational infrastructure including both the command-and-control servers in use at the time our action began and new infrastructure Trickbot has attempted to bring online.”
For now at least, the battle appears to be mostly over, and the good guys won. You can bet, however, that the hackers will regroup and return. As important as Microsoft’s victory was here, it is only a temporary one. Still, a bit of very good news indeed.