FBI Shut Down Russia-linked “Cyclops Blink” Botnet That Contaminated 1000’s of Units

The U.S. Division of Justice (DoJ) introduced that it neutralized Cyclops Blink, a modular botnet managed by a menace actor referred to as Sandworm, which has been attributed to the Principal Intelligence Directorate of the Normal Employees of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU).

“The operation copied and eliminated malware from weak internet-connected firewall units that Sandworm used for command-and-control (C2) of the underlying botnet,” the DoJ said in a press release Wednesday.

Along with disrupting its C2 infrastructure, the operation additionally closed the exterior administration ports that the menace actor used to ascertain connections with the firewall home equipment, successfully severing contact and stopping the hacking group from utilizing the contaminated units to commandeer the botnet.


The March 22 court-authorized disruption of Cyclops Blink comes a bit over a month after intelligence businesses within the U.Ok. and the U.S. described the botnet as a substitute framework for the VPNFilter malware that was uncovered and sinkholed in Could 2018.

Cyclops Blink, which is believed to have emerged as early as June 2019, primarily focused WatchGuard firewall home equipment and ASUS routers, with the Sandworm group leveraging a beforehand recognized safety vulnerability in WatchGuard’s Firebox firmware as an preliminary entry vector.

A follow-up evaluation by cybersecurity agency Pattern Micro final month instructed the likelihood that the botnet is an try and “construct an infrastructure for additional assaults on high-value targets.”


“These community units are sometimes positioned on the perimeter of a sufferer’s laptop community, thereby offering Sandworm with the potential means to conduct malicious actions in opposition to all computer systems inside these networks,” the DoJ added.

Particulars of the safety flaw had been by no means made public past the truth that the corporate addressed the difficulty as a part of software program updates issued in Could 2021, with WatchGuard noting on the contrary that the vulnerabilities had been internally detected and that they weren’t “actively discovered within the wild.”

The corporate has since revised its Cyclops Blink FAQs to spell out that the vulnerability in query is CVE-2022-23176 (CVSS rating: 8.8), which may “enable an unprivileged consumer with entry to Firebox administration to authenticate to the system as an administrator” and acquire unauthorized distant entry.

ASUS, for its half, has released firmware patches as of April 1, 2022, to dam the menace, recommending customers to replace to the newest model.

Ninjay H Briotyon

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