Feeds

SpamThru Trojan bundles own virus scanner

Blocks rival malware

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Internet miscreants have created a spam-sending Trojan that comes fitted with an anti-virus scanner. The SpamThru Trojan attempts to reserve control of compromised machines by blocking infection by other forms of malware using a pirated copy of a commercial anti-virus scanner.

Security researchers at SecureWorks reckon the sophistication of the malware rivals the complexity of commercial software, indicating that unknown malware authors have devoted considerable effort to create one of the most potent forms of malware produced to date.

Many forms of malware attempt to block access to anti-virus software updates in order to frustrate disinfection efforts. Some are even programmed to delete Windows registry keys associated with rival forms of malware. But SpamThru is reckoned to be the first form of malware that comes bundled with its own anti-virus scanning engine, in this case a pirated copy of Kaspersky AntiVirus for WinGate.

The malware takes this scanning software from a server controlled by hackers before loading it into a concealed directory on compromised machines. The malware is then programmed to prevent the security package from making proper license signature checks before downloading new signature updates.

Ten minutes later, this software is used to check for other forms of malware on compromised machines. Checks for the SpamThru Trojan itself are, of course, omitted. Other forms of malware are removed when a compromised machine is next re-started.

The sophistication of the malware extends to the command-and-control structure used to manage compromised hosts. SpamThru uses a P2P-based control system that doesn't rely on any single control server. "Control is still maintained by a central server, but in case the control server is shut down, the spammer can update the rest of the peers with the location of a new control server, as long as they control at least one peer," SecureWorks researchers note.

All this programming effort is being expended so SpamThru's built in junk mail-dispatching client can operate with the minimum likelihood of interruption. The spam engine is mostly being used to dispatch stock tips as part of a pump-and-dump money-making scam.

SecureWorks' comprehensive analysis of the malware can be found here. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.