Researchers uncover large cyberfraud operation targeting Australian bank customers

A variant of the Carberp financial malware was used to infect 150,000 computers, mostly from Australia, Group-IB says

Security researchers from Russian cybercrime investigations firm Group-IB have uncovered a cyberfraud operation that uses specialized financial malware to target the customers of several major Australian banks.

Over 150,000 computers, most of them belonging to Australian users, have been infected with this malware since 2012 and were added to a botnet that Group-IB researchers have dubbed "Kangaroo" or "Kangoo," after a kangaroo logo used on the command-and-control server's interface, Andrey Komarov, the head of international projects at Group-IB, said Wednesday via email.

The malware is a modified version of Carberp, a financial Trojan program that so far has been used primarily against Internet banking users from Russian-speaking countries. In fact, the same Carberp variant is used as part of a different operation targeting customers of Sberbank in Russia, Komarov said.

Like the majority of financial Trojan programs, Carberp supports the use of "Web injects" -- special scripts that tell the malware how to interact with specific online banking websites. These scripts allow attackers to piggyback on a victim's active online banking session, initiate rogue transfers, hide account balances and display rogue forms and messages that appear to originate from the bank.

The Carberp variant targeting Australian users contains Web injects for the Internet banking websites of Commonwealth Bank, Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank, Adelaide Bank and ANZ. The malware is capable of hijacking the destination of money transfers in real time and uses specific transfer limits to avoid raising red flags, Komarov said.

Group-IB believes that the cybercriminals behind this operation are located in former Soviet Union states. However, the group has contacts with money mule services in Australia as well as its own "corporate drops" -- bank accounts registered to sham businesses -- in the country, Komarov said.

The attackers create thousands of Web pages riddled with terms from the banking industry that later appear in Web search results for specific keywords, a technique known as black hat search engine optimization, Komarov said. Users who visit these pages get redirected to attack sites that host exploits for vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins like Java, Flash Player, Adobe Reader and others, he said.

The number of 150,000 infected computers is not the number of currently active botnet clients, but a historical count of unique infections since 2012 gathered from the botnet's command and control server, Komarov said. Also, not all affected users actually use online banking, he said. The rate is roughly one in every three victims, he estimated.

Group-IB said that it is working with the targeted banks and has shared the information gathered from the botnet's command and control server with them, including compromised account credentials and the Internet Protocol addresses of the infected computers.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityfraudmalwarespywareonline safetyGroup-IB

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?