Understanding the Mirai Botnet


Manos Antonakakis, Georgia Institute of Technology; Tim April, Akamai; Michael Bailey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Matt Bernhard, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Elie Bursztein, Google; Jaime Cochran, Cloudflare; Zakir Durumeric and J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Luca Invernizzi, Google; Michalis Kallitsis, Merit Network, Inc.; Deepak Kumar, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Chaz Lever, Georgia Institute of Technology; Zane Ma and Joshua Mason, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Damian Menscher, Google; Chad Seaman, Akamai; Nick Sullivan, Cloudflare; Kurt Thomas, Google; Yi Zhou, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


The Mirai botnet, composed primarily of embedded and IoT devices, took the Internet by storm in late 2016 when it overwhelmed several high-profile targets with massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In this paper, we provide a seven-month retrospective analysis of Mirai’s growth to a peak of 600k infections and a history of its DDoS victims. By combining a variety of measurement perspectives, we analyze how the botnet emerged, what classes of devices were affected, and how Mirai variants evolved and competed for vulnerable hosts. Our measurements serve as a lens into the fragile ecosystem of IoT devices. We argue that Mirai may represent a sea change in the evolutionary development of botnets—the simplicity through which devices were infected and its precipitous growth, demonstrate that novice malicious techniques can compromise enough low-end devices to threaten even some of the best-defended targets. To address this risk, we recommend technical and nontechnical interventions, as well as propose future research directions.

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@inproceedings {203628,
author = {Manos Antonakakis and Tim April and Michael Bailey and Matt Bernhard and Elie Bursztein and Jaime Cochran and Zakir Durumeric and J. Alex Halderman and Luca Invernizzi and Michalis Kallitsis and Deepak Kumar and Chaz Lever and Zane Ma and Joshua Mason and Damian Menscher and Chad Seaman and Nick Sullivan and Kurt Thomas and Yi Zhou},
title = {Understanding the Mirai Botnet},
booktitle = {26th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 17)},
year = {2017},
isbn = {978-1-931971-40-9},
address = {Vancouver, BC},
pages = {1093--1110},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity17/technical-sessions/presentation/antonakakis},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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