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FBI and pals grab banking Trojan zombielord's joystick

'Shylock' mostly spread through LEGIT websites

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Law enforcement and the security business have teamed up to disrupt the operation of the Shylock banking Trojan.

The UK's National Crime Agency joined forces with Europol and the FBI to take down and seize the command and control servers key to running the botnet. Law enforcement also took control of the domains Shylock uses for communication between infected computers.

Shylock - so named because its code contains excerpts from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice - has infected at least 30,000 computers running Windows worldwide since it first surfaced in 2011.

Victims are often hit through attacks based on planting malicious code on mainstream websites. This code exploits browser vulnerabilities and the like to push malware onto the systems of visiting surfers.

Research from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence on Shylock last year suggested its main distribution channel is legit websites (305 of 500 sources in UK). The same analysis (PDF) published last November suggested four in five instances of the malware targeted UK banks.

Both individuals and small/medium businesses in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy have been left out of pocket as a result of the malware. The extent of these losses is unclear.

Intelligence suggests that the Trojan has been disproportionately targeted at UK banking customers, although the suspected developers are based elsewhere.

The UK's NCA led the op, which it described as the first of its kind for the police agency. Law enforcement takedowns of zombie networks in general are not an infrequent occurrence.

Other companies and organisations involved in Operation Shylock include BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, GCHQ, Dell SecureWorks, Kaspersky Lab and the German Federal Police.

A detection and removal tool for Shylock has been released by ‪Heimdal Security‬. ®

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