Feeds

Trojan armed with hardware-based anti-piracy control

Zeus borrows page from Microsoft

Boost IT visibility and business value

The latest version of the Zeus do-it-yourself crimeware kit goes to great lengths to thwart would-be pirates by introducing a hardware-based product activation scheme similar to what's found in Microsoft Windows.

The newest version with bare-bones capabilities starts at $4,000 and additional features can fetch as much as $10,000. The new feature is designed to prevent what Microsoft refers to as "casual copying" by ensuring that only one computer can run a licensed version of the program. After it is installed, users must obtain a key that's good for just that one machine.

"This is the first time we have seen this level of control for malware," according to an analysis of the latest Zeus version published this week by SecureWorks.

The hardware-based licensing system isn't the only page Zeus creators have borrowed from Microsoft. They've also pushed out multiple flavors of the package that vary in price depending on the capabilities it offers. Just as Windows users can choose between the lower-priced Windows 7 Starter or the more costly Windows 7 Business, bot masters have multiple options for Zeus.

For a mere $500 more, users can get a Zeus module that will allow them to received pilfered data in real time using the Jabber instant messaging client. A module that grabs data out of fields typed into Firefox fetches an extra $2,000, and a virtual network computing module that allows users to establish a fully functioning connection to an infected computer costs $10,000.

The VNC functionality fetches such a high price because it allows criminals to bypass some of the most advanced security measures, such as smartcards and other pieces of hardware that are used to authenticate high-value victims to a bank or other financial institution.

The latest version of Zeus is 1.3.3.7, SecureWorks researcher Kevin Stevens told The Reg. But the authors are already busy working on version 1.4, which is being beta tested. It offers polymorphic encryption that allows the trojan to re-encrypt itself each time it infects a victim, giving each one a unique digital fingerprint. As a result, anti-virus programs, which already struggle mightily to recognize Zeus infections, have an even harder time detecting the menace. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town
Paid-for apps that provide free downloads? Really
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
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Hear ye, young cyber warriors of the realm: GCHQ wants you
Get involved, get a job and then never discuss work ever again
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
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.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
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.
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?