Malware: Vobfus and Beebone infections are double-trouble

Jul 02, 2013 by Nancy Owano report
Credit: Microsoft

( —Vobfus and Beebone sound like two lovable crayon-colored goldfish still on the Pixar drawing boards: Wouldn't that be nice. Microsoft's security team would much prefer they be animated box-office hits but they are a pair of malicious software programs that work in concert with one another. A recent blog posting at Microsoft made it known that they are quite a headache. Hyun Choi of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center said that the two programs are regularly found together. They operate collaboratively. They are "downloaders" and they work by alternatively downloading different variations of one another. The problem, aside from their computer invasion, is that they are hard to clean and can elude antivirus software.

The first malware player, Vobfus, is named after its characteristics. Think "Visual Basic." Think "obfuscated." Vobfus, detected in September 2009, is known as a downloader and it is compiled in p-code (pseudo code) or native code. A computer user might, for example, pick up Vobfus by way of a booby-trapped link. Once Vobfus gets into the system, it downloads the Beebone program, another downloader, ready for action to install other . Beebone has been downloading Trojans such as Zbot, Sirefef, Fareit, Nedsym and Cutwall.

In his blog posting, Choi talked about how this works. "Vobfus copies itself to the %userprofile% folder with a random name, or a not-so-random name…It also creates a runkey to ensure it runs every time Windows starts. Finally, Vobfus contacts a C&C server to obtain encrypted instructions on where to download Beebone; Beebone subsequently downloads Vobfus, and a number of other threats."

Choi also commented on the downsides of the pair's cyclical nature:

"Where Vobfus is detected, we often findWin32/Beebone too; thus exists the cyclical relationship between Vobfus and Beebone, the two threat families that are intrinsically related. This cyclical relationship between Beebone and Vobfus downloading each other is the reason why Vobfus may seem so resilient to antivirus products. Vobfus and Beebone can constantly update each other with new variants."

Among his guidelines for helping to prevent Vobfus and Beebone infections, he noted that "one infection vector is drive-by download, so use caution when clicking external links, and keep your browser and all other installed software up to date to help prevent exploits." Also, as Vobfus is primarily downloaded by Beebone or spread via removable drives, "a possible method of prevention is disabling autorun functionality."

The Microsoft Malware Protection Center gathers and analyzes data, working with organizations inside and outside Microsoft, and staying "agile to combat evolving threats." The Center seeks to respond to malware outbreaks and advise customers.

Explore further: Cybersecurity researchers roll out a new Heartbleed solution

More information:

Related Stories

Hacker 'botnet' hijacked online searches

Feb 07, 2013

Software titan Microsoft and computer security giant Symantec said Thursday that they smashed a hacker-infected computer network that was hijacking Internet searches.

Recommended for you

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2013
Hyun Choi of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center

Isn't this the another name for the Windows development team?
not rated yet Jul 02, 2013
I wonder how much this problem would be helped if MS instructed new users to create standard accounts for browsing and e-mail, and only use the administrator account for updates/installing software. New Windows installs come with one Admin account, which many users just use for everything.

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...