Malware beaconing is one of the first network-related indications of a botnet or a peer-to-peer (P2P) malware infection. A botnet is network of computers infected with malicious software that’s being controlled by a remote malicious party without the owner’s knowledge. Whereas P2P infections indicate malware that is laterally moving to infect one system after another. After malware infects a vulnerable host, it quickly scans the host environment and initiates a command and control (C2) channel with its creator (i.e. the intruder). The compromised host then initiates regular interval malware beaconing calls out to the C2 infrastructure to await further installation or to begin data exfiltration.
Detect Malware Beaconing Traffic
Threatcare brings a proactive approach to cyber defense through Breach and Attack Simulations (BAS) that help with risk discovery and the validation of risk mitigation techniques. Threatcare is a desktop application that can be downloaded for free here. Once a user initiates a malware beaconing simulation, their host makes some GET requests to reclaimed malicious domains that are under Threatcare’s control. Whether an organization uses enterprise or open source threat intelligence feeds, any attempted connection should look suspicious since these once malicious domains have been posted to most threat intelligence feeds. This malware beaconing simulation helps validate DNS monitoring capabilities, while leveraging risk discovery strength towards threat intelligence.
Why Detecting Malware Beaconing is Important
Unfortunately, an enterprise or SMB takes over 6 months (on average) before a breach is detected. That’s over 180 days that unidentified indicators of compromise (IOC) can gain daily insight about your infrastructure. To minimize the the impact an IOC such as malware beaconing can have on your organization, quick response and effective recovery plans need to be leveraged. It’s becoming common practice for these intruders to do weeks, even months, of reconnaissance on your infrastructure before initiating a breach. With this tactic (i.e targeted attacks), intruders have the information they need to build sophisticated malware that can evade your conventional safeguards, antivirus, anti-malware, and endpoint protection.
Contrary to popular belief, attacks that are targeted to compromise an infrastructure are not as complicated as they seem. Means gathered during the reconnaissance phase, (i.e. social engineering techniques) are simple and positioned so that users will click. Malware beaconing traffic can be mistaken for some types of DNS traffic, regular software updates, and antivirus definition updates. Proactive cyber defenders reduce false positives by leveraging real-world internal network IOC’s against safeguards to ensure secure configurations.