After all the buzz around Ghostnet, it’s fun to look back and read the origal document describing the spy network. It’s an interesting read, and if you don’t have the time to read this you can also check out the Security Now! podcast from April 9th in which Steve Gibson explains how the research group found out about the spy network and how amateurish the (open source) Gh0trat software actually is.

One very important lesson learned from this story is that attackers no longer  control these networks by using IRC as we have seen in the past. Ghostnet used plain old http requests to periodically check for new commands. The startling thing about this is that this is exactly the kind of traffic that gets through firewalls and even proxy servers without any problems. HTTP replies consisting of jpg images contained the actual, encoded commands.

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