Feeds

ZeuS miscreants offer up honeypot

Cybercrooks turn the table on researchers with fake interface

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Cybercrooks are attempting to turn the tables on security researchers by setting up fake interfaces on their botnets in a bid to confuse and confound analysis.

The fake honeypot tactic was brought into play by a group using a variant of the infamous Zeus crimeware toolkit. The unknown miscreants targeted quarterly federal taxpayers with fake emails that sought to trick prospective marks into visiting a website loaded with exploits on the pretext that there had been a problem with their tax returns. If successful, the attack resulted in the infection of PCs with variants of ZeuS primarily designed to capture and extract bank login details.

In between waiting for the drop of confidential IDs from compromised machines, the crackers set up a trap for researchers. A bogus administrative panel hands out counterfeit statistics on the number of ZeuS-infected machines, as well as the ability to upload new bot malware, a feature designed to hoodwink security researchers or rival botnet operators.

A write-up of the ZeuS decoy admin console can be found in a post on the Last Line of Defense blog here.

"This admin interface acts as a 'hacker honeypot' that records detailed information about who attempted to access the admin console, as well as who attempted to hack into it," the post explains.

In a nice touch, the phoney login accepts default or easily guessed login credentials. Just for good measure, the interface is also also vulnerable to a simple SQL-injection vulnerability.

The deployment of the fake honeypot tactic in ZeuS-related malware operations is unlikely to be coincidental. The discovery of genuine ZeuS interfaces over recent months has been a major source of raw intelligence for security researchers. Although we can't say for sure at this point it's even possible that this data led to the recent run of arrests of ZeuS crimeware suspects in the UK, US and the Ukraine.

Crooks who use ZeuS as the weapon of choice for snaffling online banking credentials would doubtless be interested in frustrating this kind of researcher through the use of decoys. Viewed from this perspective, spying on what their opponents are up to would be a bonus for cybercrooks. And since ZeuS is highly customisable adding in the additional honeypot hooks would have been no great chore. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.