Feeds

Viruses, phishing, and trojans for profit

Malware is big money

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Customised trojans, for a price

If there's one thing we've learned, just about anything is available for a price.

Dmitri Alperovitch from CipherTrust gave an excellent presentation at Virus Bulletin on "phishing trojan creation toolkits". His talk was about how it's now possible to go out and purchase a fully customised Trojan horse for phishing purposes, one that can inject new fields into a legitimate web page.

In other words, the average Joe Criminal can go out and purchase a toolkit that can create a targeted, fully customised trojan horse capable of evading the detection of anti-virus software, and then use it to steal money from innocent people. There's still the issue of getting this trojan in the right place, but let's take this one step at a time.

The example Alperovitch showed was quite advanced, capable of numerous features like support for encryption and two-factor authentication that allows a less sophisticated cyber criminal to make just the right kind of trojan. Set up the required features and click the button that says compile.

I found it all quite shocking, to be honest - I did not know how far these trojan toolkits have come, or how much it can lower the bar. One of the greatest security fears of any organisation is (or should be) targeted trojans, because of their capability to steal virtually any information inside an organisation and remain undetected for some time. I won't take the liberty of mentioning some of the toolkits here, which range from $100 to $5500.

What can these trojans help steal? Money, for starters. Phishing works because most people can't identify a fake website. Let's also consider another use for them. It's easy to imagine a targeted trojan running on a payroll manager's computer inside a Fortune 500 company, logging keystrokes, taking screenshots, and responding to commands from someone on the other side of the world – or someone just next door. Add me to your payroll, please. A bit far-fetched? Hopefully your organisation has the proper policies and procedures in place to prevent this.

When the early reports of hackers teaming up with organised crime first surfaced, I'll admit I was skeptical. I found it hard to imagine a geek, albeit a criminal one, meeting up with the mob in a dark alley somewhere and plotting their next attack. But we're talking big money now, millions and tens of millions of dollars in some of the trojan-phishing-botnet-spam scams. Maybe much more.

The link to organised crime and traditional low-tech criminals for cyber criminals is more likely one of pure necessity – converting "virtual money" stolen from individuals and companies still has to be converted to real money, and that's where traditional crime rings and money laundering come into play.

Law enforcement is pretty good at investigating the low-tech end result of high-tech crime, and that's where they should continue to focus. Rather than turn police officers into hackers, they should continue to work with (and pay) security people to unravel the technical capabilities. Let me put some emphasis on paying security folks for their hard work.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.