Feeds

Source code leaked for pricey ZeuS crimeware kit

Advanced trojan development comes to the unwashed masses

The essential guide to IT transformation

Source code for the latest version of the ZeuS crimeware kit has been leaked on the internet, giving anyone who knows where to look free access to a potent set of malware-generation tools that normally sell for as much as $10,000.

Complete source code is available in at least three different locations, ensuring that it is now permanently available to the masses, Peter Kruse, a researcher with Danish firm CSIS Security, told The Reg. While the release could erode the paid market for the DIY malware kit, it could also spawn entire new kits that clone the existing code and build new features or services on top of it.

“The source code has until now been shared in very closed communities or bought by criminals with significant funds,” Kruse wrote in an email. “With the release of the entire code it's obvious we will see new versions/rebrands or improvements in general. If this grows outside of the established underground ecosystem it could have a significant impact.”

Selling in the criminal underground for anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, ZeuS is best known as a tool for developing customized trojans that send victims' banking credentials to servers under control of the attacker. Premium versions include technical support and advanced features, such as the ability to bypass two-factor authentication offered by some financial institutions. Although there are rival crimekits such as one dubbed Eleonore, ZeuS is considered one of the most powerful and widely used of them.

But over the past year, ZeuS has undergone a fair amount of upheaval. In September, security researcher Billy Rios disclosed a serious vulnerability in ZeuS that allows whitehats and blackhats alike to seize control of botnets built using the crimekit. Around the same time, authorities in the UK, US and Eastern Europe accused dozens of individuals of laundering millions of dollars siphoned out of ZeuS-compromised bank accounts.

More recently, researchers have found evidence that the ZeuS code base has been merged with a separate crimekit known as SpyEye. And in March, CSIS's Kruse discovered ZeuS source code for sale in underground forums.

The general release of the ZeuS source code makes it all but certain that no one will pay money for the standalone version of the program, at least until its creators add must-have features to it that aren't available now. It's not clear who released the code or why.

ZeuS's growing pains resemble in many ways the challenges legitimate software packages experience as they grow in popularity.

“I do like the fact that as these crimeware softwares become more mature, the developers and maintainer will start to face the same challenges as traditional software – security patches, piracy, protecting IP, feature requests, even PR,” said Rios, who is a former security researcher for Microsoft. “I find this funny having spent some of my life worrying about the same issues as a proper security/software engineer.” ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
KER-CHING! CryptoWall ransomware scam rakes in $1 MEEELLION
Anatomy of the net's most destructive ransomware threat
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
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.
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.
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.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.