Feeds

Botnet that pwned 100,000 UK PCs taken out

Researchers crowbar entry into cybercrime server

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Security researchers have uncovered the command and control network of a Zeus 2 botnet sub-system targeted at UK surfers that controlled an estimated 100,000 computers.

Cybercrooks based in eastern Europe used a variant of the Zeus 2 cybercrime toolkit to harvest personal data - including bank log-ins, credit and debit card numbers, bank statements, browser cookies, client side certificates, and log-in information for email accounts and social networks - from compromised Windows systems.

Trusteer researchers identified the botnet's drop servers and command and control centre before using reverse engineering to gain access its back-end database and user interface. A log of IP addresses used to access the system, presumably by the cybercrooks that controlled it, was passed by Trusteer onto the Metropolitan Police.

Trusteer declined to point the finger as to the locations of the Zeus botmaster controlling the systems, beyond saying that compromised systems were controlled from eastern Europe.

"The cybercrime servers were hidden but the hackers were not using a lot of security, so it was possible to find a way into the database," Mickey Boodaei, Trusteer's chief exec told El Reg.

The original attack was probably seeded by a combination of infected email attachments and drive-by downloads, according to Amit Klein, Trusteer's chief technology officer. The Windows-based malware used to control zombie clients was a variant of the infamous Zeus cybercrime toolkit, a customisable Trojan keylogger and botnet-control client sold through underground forums that's become the sawn-off shotgun of the cybercrime economy over recent years.

"There are some significant changes between Zeus 1.x and Zeus 2.0: Zeus 2.0 installs differently, better adapted to newer Windows operating systems (Vista, 7). Additionally, Zeus 2.0 has built-in support for Firefox," Klein explained.

"There are Zeus binaries out there for few months already with version number 2.0.x.y. We do not control Zeus's version numbers - it's the Zeus writers who do that," he added.

Trusteer says the attack is an example of the growing trend of regionalised malware. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
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
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
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.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.