Trojan source code leak poised to spur new online banking attacks

Nuclear Bot's author releases its source code publicly for other cybercriminals to use

The source code for a new Trojan program that targets banking services has been published online, offering an easy way for unskilled cybercriminals to launch potent malware attacks against users.

The Trojan is called Nuclear Bot and first appeared for sale on underground cybercrime forums in early December for $2,500. It can steal and inject information from and into websites opened in Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome and can also open a local proxy or hidden remote desktop service.

These are all features commonly seen in banking Trojans, as they're used by attackers to bypass the security checks of online bank websites to perform fraud. For example, the proxy and remote desktop functionality allows hackers to initiate rogue transactions through the victims' browsers after they have been tricked into providing the second authentication factor.

What's interesting about Nuclear Bot is the failure of its author to market it properly to other cybercriminals. According to researchers from IBM, who have closely monitored the Trojan's history, over the course of several months the Nuclear Bot creator broke many of the unwritten rules of the cybercriminal community, which resulted in his losing all credibility and being flagged a scammer. For example, the program's author did not not provide test versions of the software to forum admins or potential buyers and used different names when advertising the malware  on different forums.

Even though it did not attract any buyers, the Trojan did turn out to be real and quite potent. And in order to prove his legitimacy as a malware coder, it appears that the Nuclear Bot author took the unusual step of releasing the Trojan's source code himself.

The source code for other banking Trojans, including Zeus, Gozi and Carberp, has been released in the past, but usually as a result of unintentional leaks. Regardless of the reason, whenever something like this happens, it's never good news for the rest of the internet.

"Publicly available source code makes for more malware," the IBM researchers said in a blog post. "This is often incorporated into existing projects. X-Force researchers noted that NukeBot is likely to see the same process take place in the wild, especially since its code is not copied from other leaked malware, per the developer’s claims."

At the very least, source code availability puts new malware into the hands of cybercriminals who don't have the resources to build something themselves or to buy a ready-made solution from someone else.

"At this time, NukeBot has not been detected in real-world attacks and does not have defined target lists," the IBM researchers said. "This situation is likely to change in the near future."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?