Feeds

Zeus bot found using Amazon's EC2 as C&C server

Clouds on Mount Olympus

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Add Amazon's EC2 to the roster of cloud-based services being exploited to do the bidding of malware gangs.

Over the past few days, a new variant of the Zeus banking trojan has been spotted using the popular Amazon service as a command and control channel for infected machines. After marks get tricked into installing the password-logging malware, their machines began reporting to EC2 for new instructions and updates, according to researchers from CA's internet security business unit.

"We believe this was a legitimate service that was purchased and compromised via a vulnerability" such as a weak password, Don DeBolt, CA's director of threat research, told The Reg. "It could have been any vulnerable system on the internet."

Over the past few months, accounts on Twitter, Google's app engine, and Facebook have also been transformed into master control channels for machines under the spell of surreptitious malware. In addition to their high availability and low cost, the sites are attractive because they don't set off alarms when infected machines are observed connecting to them.

While it's relatively easy to block channels located in China or based on internet relay chat, blacklisting some of the world's most popular online destinations is another matter completely.

According to analysis from Zero Day blogger Dancho Danchev, the cybercriminals behind Zeus appear to have plugged into Amazon's Relational Database Service as a backend alternative in case they lose access to their original domain.

DeBolt said the EC2 channel was disconnected after it was brought to the attention of Amazon officials. People who want to report future abuse of cloud-based services offered by the online retailer can use this link. An Amazon spokeswoman didn't respond to an email requesting comment. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.