Leak of ZeusVM malware building tool might cause botnet surge

Any wannabe botnet operator can now create their own army of ZeusVM-infected computers, researchers warn

Security in cloud computing

Security in cloud computing

The Internet could see a new wave of botnets based on the ZeusVM banking Trojan after the tools needed to build and customize the malware program were published online for free.

The source code for the builder and control panel of ZeusVM version 2.0.0.0 was leaked sometime in June, according to a malware research outfit called Malware Must Die (MMD). The leak was kept under wraps by the researchers as they tried to stop the files from becoming widely available, an effort that ultimately exceeded their resources.

As a result, the group decided to go public with the information Sunday in order to alert the whole security community so that mitigation strategies can be developed.

ZeusVM, also known as KINS, is a computer Trojan that hijacks the browser process in order to modify or steal information from websites opened by victims on their computers. It's primarily used to steal online banking credentials, but other types of websites can also be targeted as long as attackers list them in the configuration file downloaded by the Trojan from the Internet.

As its name suggests, ZeusVM is based on the infamous Zeus Trojan, whose own source code was leaked in 2011 after years of being the primary malware tool used for online banking fraud.

It seems that the new ZeusVM leak does not contain the source code for the actual Trojan that could allow other malware writers to create more powerful variants. However, the builder and control panel is all that attackers need to start their own ZeusVM version 2 botnet, for free.

The builder is a program that allows attackers to create customized ZeusVM binary files, which can then be used to infect computers. The customization involves modifying things like the URL of the command-and-control server where the Trojan will connect or the key used to encrypt its configuration files.

The control panel is the Web application that runs on the command-and-control server and is used to receive and send data to ZeusVM-infected computers. It's needed to manage the botnet.

It's not clear who or why leaked the two ZeusVM tools, but the MMD researchers recently spotted sale offers for a new version of KINS -- version 3.0 -- on underground forums for US$5,000.

So in addition to a surge of new ZeusVM v2 botnets, the security community should also expect attacks with a new version of the Trojan soon, the MMD researchers said in their report.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityMalware Must Diemalwarefraud

More about

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place