Temporarily beheaded, the botnet doesn't send out spam, but Kaspersky's researchers have noticed that its operators currently seem more interested in building a new one than wrestling the control of the old one from the hands of the researchers.
This new version of the Kelihos botnet is built with a variant of the original malware, and is currently believed to consist of around 8,000 enslaved computers.
While the original botnet mostly spewed out spam and was able to effect DDoS attacks, this new one has many more capabilities, as the bot found on these computers can infect flash drives, find and exfiltrate configuration details for a number of FTP clients, email addresses, email, FTP and HTTP session passwords, and steal and make the infected computer mine Bitcoins.
The bot programs - as well as the additional downloaders - are installed on the computers via drive-by attacks that redirect users to websites hosting the Incognito exploit kit.
"It is not uncommon for new versions of botnets to appear, and itís one of the challenges we face in the IT security industry. We can neutralize botnet attacks and delay cyber criminal activities but ultimately the only way to take botnets down is to arrest and persecute the creators and groups operating them," concluded Kaspersky Lab Expert Sergey Golovanov.