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Newly emerged banking Trojan challenges ZeuS-SpyEye duopoly

Sunspot blindsides anti-virus protection

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A new banking Trojan with infection rates similar to SpyEye and Zeus in some regions has emerged.

The Sunspot Trojan has already been linked to instances of fraudulent losses, according to transaction security firm Trusteer. The Windows-based malware is designed to carry out man-in-the-browser attacks, including web injections, page-grabbing, key-logging and screen shooting (a feature that captures screenshots of the location of a mouse as a user types his/her password on a virtual keyboard).

The malware is also capable of requesting additional online banking details from the user such as payment card information (card number, ATM PIN, CVV, expiration date) and answers to secret questions. It also requests sensitive personal information (driver license number, mother maiden name, date of birth etc.) that might subsequently be used to impersonate marks in order to obtain fraudulent lines of credit.

Anti-virus tool detection of the Sunspot Trojan is patchy at best. According to a Virus Total analysis, only nine of 42 anti-virus programs tested, or 21 per cent, currently detect Sunspot. Trusteer traced the Sunspot Command and Control Server (C&C) hostname to a domain registered in Russia.

Trusteer reckons the malware has been in circulation for a while, but the enhanced financial fraud capabilities have only been bolted on far more recently. Strains of the malware targeting North American financial institutions have "already achieved SpyEye and Zeus–like infection rate", it reckons.

Amit Klein, Trusteer's CTO, said: "Sunspot is interesting for two reasons. First, it reveals a new approach to financial malware development. Unlike purpose-built financial fraud platforms like Zeus, SpyEye, Bugat, and others, it appears Sunspot was not originally developed as crime ware. If this is the case, we could be witnessing a sea change in malware development where general purpose and little-known malware platforms are re-programmed to carry out financial fraud.

"Secondly, Sunspot illustrates an increasing emphasis by crime ware authors on payment card theft. We are seeing more and more malware asking victims for their credit and debit card information together with additional identifiable information. This allows criminals to commit card non-present fraud on the internet, and also makes it more difficult for banks to identify the source of fraudulent transactions since they cannot trace it back to a specific computer."

Klein added that Sunspot was developed before the code for Zeus was made freely available, to its unlikely that its newly evolved features are related to the wider availability of ZeuS source code, at least directly.

Other malware platforms geared towards financial fraud detected by Trusteer over the past 18 months include Silon, OddJob and several others. ®

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