Cybercriminals use Zeus malware to target cloud payroll services

New ZeuS configuration steals log-in information from customers of a Canadian payroll service provider

Cybercriminals are using the Zeus online banking malware to target companies that use cloud-based payroll services, researchers from security firm Trusteer said Monday.

The researchers have come across a Zeus configuration that monitors the log-in Web page of a Canadian provider of human resources and payroll services called Ceridian Canada, with the purpose of stealing authentication information from its customers.

The malware steals user IDs, passwords and company numbers when users authenticate on Ceridian's clients.powerpay.ca website from infected computers and automatically takes screenshots of their answers to the site's image-based verification system.

Trusteer expects payroll services to become increasingly targeted by cybercriminals who can more easily steal large amounts of money through them than from regular online banking accounts, the company's chief technology officer, Amit Klein, said in a blog post.

In general, the authentication protection measures used by payroll services lag a few years behind those used by online banking websites, Klein said via email.

Also, because payroll services can be accessed from anywhere, it's not always necessary for attackers to break into a corporate network to perform fraud, he said. The authentication credentials can be stolen and abused through a laptop that's regularly removed from the enterprise premises.

Once in possession of the stolen authentication credentials, the cybercriminals can add fake employees in the payroll system and transfer considerable sums of money to accounts the criminals control.

Last year, a group of cybercriminals used this method to steal US$217,000 from a nonprofit organization called the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) based in Omaha, Nebraska.

The attackers transferred money through MECA's payroll system to the bank accounts of U.S residents hired through work-at-home scams, who then wired the funds out of the country, Klein said.

Unfortunately, running an antivirus program is often not enough to prevent Zeus infections, because cybercriminals who use this Trojan horse perform reconnaissance before launching their attacks in order to learn what security products their targets use. They then alter the malware to evade detection by those applications.

Products like Trusteer's Rapport are designed to secure Web browsing sessions so that malware can't tamper with them and steal credentials. However, security experts have advised organizations in the past to only perform sensitive financial activities from dedicated computers that aren't used for other tasks, or to do so by booting from a Linux live CD in order to decrease the chances of malware interference.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Lucian Constantin

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?