German federal Trojan eavesdrops on 15 applications, experts find

The R2D2 surveillance Trojan also has support for 64-bit Windows systems

A Trojan used by German law enforcement authorities to intercept Internet phone calls is capable of monitoring traffic from 15 programs, including browsers and instant messaging applications.

The discovery was made by malware analysts from antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab, who took apart the so-called lawful surveillance software, dubbed 0zapftis, Bundestrojaner or R2D2 by the security community. The Trojan was initially analyzed by famous German hacker collective the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), which determined that Skype is one of its targets.

The Trojan's installer deploys five components, each with a different purpose, and Kaspersky has analyzed all of them, said Tillmann Werner, a security researcher with Kaspersky in Germany.

"Amongst the new things we found in there are two rather interesting ones: Firstly, this version is not only capable of running on 32 bit systems; it also includes support for 64 bit versions of Windows," he said. "Secondly, the list of target processes to monitor is longer than the one mentioned in the CCC report. The number of applications infected by the various components is 15 in total."

The list of targeted applications includes major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera, as well programs with VoIP and data encryption functionality, including ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Skype, Low-Rate VoIP, CounterPath X-Lite and Paltalk.

On 32-bit Windows systems the Trojan uses a kernel-mode rootkit that monitors targeted processes and injects rogue libraries into them. However, on 64-bit platforms, the system driver is much more basic and only serves as an interface to modify registry entries or the file system.

Furthermore, it is signed with a certificate that isn't trusted under Windows by default. This means that deploying the Trojan requires user confirmation, which might not necessarily be a problem for authorities, because they reportedly install it during border searches or similar interventions.

Kaspersky said its products detected the Trojan installer heuristically even before a sample was analyzed and signatures were added for it. However, those tools may not help if outsiders can manually add an exception in the program. Computer users can prevent outsiders from doing this by using a password to protect their antivirus configurations, and most products offer this option.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Chaos Computer ClubintrusionTillmann WernersecurityExploits / vulnerabilitieskaspersky lab

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?