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'Father of Zeus' banking trojan appears at very reasonable price

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A banking trojan dubbed the father of the infamous Zeus malware is being flogged on cybercrime marketplaces for a pricey $7000, says fraud specialist Etay Maor.

The Kronos malware was sold on a cybercrime forum, pitched particularly to Zeus trojan customers given its capabilities to re-use that trojan's form grabbing templates.

Trusteer's Maor said Kronos, which took its name after the father of Zeus in Greek mythology, worked with the most common browsers and could bypass a variety of security mechanisms.

"Consistent with other financial malware developments, it seems that significant time and effort were given to evading security tools used both by end users and security white hats," Maor said in a blog post.

"Because Zeus is the most widely deployed malware, and it is likely that potential clients have used or still use Zeus variants, the authors of Kronos made sure that the HTML injection files used by Zeus operators can be easily implemented with Kronos."

Researchers have not reverse Kronos to determine its capabilities. In an advertisement posted to an undisclosed popular Russian marketplace, the malware was said to be able to rip banking credentials from Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, fend off rival trojans using a 32- or 64- bit rootkit, bypass antivirus and unspecified sandboxing, and establish encrypted command and control communication.

It would be supplemented with continued malware code updates and technical support which were common features of higher-end wares like Zeus and Citadel.

These capabilities were not unique to Kronos but did place the malware in the category of more expensive wares. Most malware sold for hundreds of dollars or like Zeus were simply pirated on the back of source code leaks, but others such as Carberp had in 2010 sold for $15,000.

Kronos was packaged with an appetiser that for $1000 allowed users to test the malware's control panel and bot capabilities.

The malware followed the near scuttling of the Gameover Zeus fraud botnet, a variant of Zeus, which inflicted $100 million in damages and compromised half a million machines. Authors or other developers with the source code in hand had revived the botnet by overhauling the malware so that it swapped peer to peer for fast-flux communications. ®

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