Focus on ZeuS malware clears the way for other threats

When one malware threat attracts the attention of the FBI and security leaders, it can pave the way for alternative threats

The ZeuS "crimeware toolkit" has made recent headlines lately by garnering attention of the FBI, and for the new components that allow hackers to break into BlackBerry and Symbian phones.

Such a tight focus on ZeuS in the news and by leading security software manufacturers allows for other sophisticated malware to take a stronger hold in the marketplace, according to a Security Week report. For instance, the Bugat suite is listed by McAfee as a Very Low Risk Level 1 threat.

A recent LinkedIn attack was initially credited to ZeuS, fueling more focus away from the increasing popularity of Bugat. But in reality Bugat was what hackers used in this particular scheme.

Although it isn't as widespread, the Bugat trojan is just as capable of retrieving illicit credentials and providing profit for the botnet operators. The goal of Bugat is to retrieve financial login information, and have the botnet perform high value wire transfers with the stolen data.

Bugat operates by launching a .exe that monitors the URLs you visit and captures your login details. In addition, in some instances, Bugat will actually modify the look of the login page to gain additional personal information.

Bugat distributes the standard frustrating pieces of malware as well, allowing for unknown file transfers, launching of unintended programs, and rendering windows inoperable. Once it finishes mining data and collecting login credentials, the .exe sends the data back to the botnet to have the illicit transfers executed.

The desired targets are business owners, as automated payments to random resellers may go undetected for some time from large coffers. A standard personal bank account while it may provide the keys to full on identity theft is more work for less return.

The give and take of malware and the security industry could appear to be bleak, as new threats arise regularly, and in the case of Bugat, old threats return to the surface as newer threats draw all the attention. However, the security industry remains vigilant. As long as the security news is of FBI raids--and not gaping security holes affecting the public--we can take some comfort in knowing that the better hackers are on our side.

Follow @pcwsecurity on Twitter for more security news from PCWorld.

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Joshua Stein

PC World (US online)
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