A new version of the The Rovnix Trojan that has spent 2014 quietly spreading across the Internet has infected at least 130,000 PCs in the UK to pilfer credit card data, security firm BitDefender has warned.
To date, Rovnix has largely been a nuisance for Windows PCs, causing a range of disruption from pop-up ads, programme interference, data theft and even blue-screen system crashes. Typically, the user will also receive bogus scareware error messages imploring them to pay money to make the issue go away.
In a year that has seen a range of major security stories, this kind of old-style Trojan back door-cum-botnet infection has ended up being roundly ignored, except of course it is still infecting large numbers of users.
It's not the worst malware out there, although it can be difficult to get rid of without help. A few years ago it would have attracted a lot more attention. Nevertheless, the current UK-oriented campaign has been designed to steal credit card numbers, so the consequences are potentially serious.
According to BitDefender, 87 percent of the recent infections it had detected were in the UK, with smaller percentages noticed in Germany, Italy, the US and Iran. This sort of targeting sounds sinister but is now a common technique to avoid detection for as long as possible.
Users were typically infected using the common Andromeda downloader, sent out via spam emails.
"The campaign targeting the UK proves that the Rovnix botnet is still going strong," said Bitdefender chief security strategist, Catalin Cosoi.
More recently, communication with command and control was being carried out using an encrypted channel.
"The switch to encrypted communications shows that this e-threat is still under active development. We won't see the last of it for some time yet."
Eccentrically, Rovnix's C&C Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) had been set up to create 5-10 domains per quarter using the US Declaration of Independence to fuel its word list.
Another older source was GNU's Lesser General Public License, Request for Comments (RFC) text file.
"They are obtained by concatenating words or their first half as long as the domain name is composed of a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 23 characters," said Cosoi. Do Rovnix's creators have a sense of humour?