Feeds

Viruses, phishing, and trojans for profit

Malware is big money

The essential guide to IT transformation

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.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.