Leak of ZeusVM malware building tool might cause botnet surge

Any wannabe botnet operator can now create their own army of ZeusVM-infected computers, researchers warn

Security in cloud computing

Security in cloud computing

The Internet could see a new wave of botnets based on the ZeusVM banking Trojan after the tools needed to build and customize the malware program were published online for free.

The source code for the builder and control panel of ZeusVM version 2.0.0.0 was leaked sometime in June, according to a malware research outfit called Malware Must Die (MMD). The leak was kept under wraps by the researchers as they tried to stop the files from becoming widely available, an effort that ultimately exceeded their resources.

As a result, the group decided to go public with the information Sunday in order to alert the whole security community so that mitigation strategies can be developed.

ZeusVM, also known as KINS, is a computer Trojan that hijacks the browser process in order to modify or steal information from websites opened by victims on their computers. It's primarily used to steal online banking credentials, but other types of websites can also be targeted as long as attackers list them in the configuration file downloaded by the Trojan from the Internet.

As its name suggests, ZeusVM is based on the infamous Zeus Trojan, whose own source code was leaked in 2011 after years of being the primary malware tool used for online banking fraud.

It seems that the new ZeusVM leak does not contain the source code for the actual Trojan that could allow other malware writers to create more powerful variants. However, the builder and control panel is all that attackers need to start their own ZeusVM version 2 botnet, for free.

The builder is a program that allows attackers to create customized ZeusVM binary files, which can then be used to infect computers. The customization involves modifying things like the URL of the command-and-control server where the Trojan will connect or the key used to encrypt its configuration files.

The control panel is the Web application that runs on the command-and-control server and is used to receive and send data to ZeusVM-infected computers. It's needed to manage the botnet.

It's not clear who or why leaked the two ZeusVM tools, but the MMD researchers recently spotted sale offers for a new version of KINS -- version 3.0 -- on underground forums for US$5,000.

So in addition to a surge of new ZeusVM v2 botnets, the security community should also expect attacks with a new version of the Trojan soon, the MMD researchers said in their report.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityMalware Must Diemalwarefraud

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 >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

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

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 13

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 x360

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 910

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?