The post was authored by Sean Baird, Edmund Brumaghin and Earl Carter, with contributions from Jaeson Schultz.

Executive Summary

The Necurs botnet is the largest spam botnet in the world. Over the past year it has been used primarily for the distribution of Locky ransomware and Dridex. Earlier this year, we wrote about how the Necurs botnet went offline and seemingly disappeared, taking most of the high volume Locky malspam with it. Talos recently identified a significant increase in the amount of spam emails originating from the Necurs botnet, indicating that it may have come back to life, but rather than distributing malware in the form of malicious attachments, it appears to have shifted back to penny stock pump-and-dump messages. This is not the first time that Necurs has been used to send high volume pump-and-dump emails. In analyzing previous telemetry data associated with these campaigns, we identified a similar campaign on December 20, 2016 shortly before the Necurs botnet went offline for an extended period. This strategic divergence from the distribution of malware may be indicative of a change in the way that attackers are attempting to economically leverage this botnet.



Talos Group

Talos Security Intelligence & Research Group