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New ZeuS bot could be antivirus-proof

September 6, 2011 5:19pm
A modified version of the ZeuS bot may have some appeal to cybercriminals due to its potential to thwart anti-virus software, a computer security firm disclosed.

Trend Micro said the variant, detected as TSPY_ZBOT.IMQU, uses a new encryption-decryption algorithm and makes it harder for anti-virus programs to clean its infection.

“If a machine is infected with ZeuS, calling (API GetFileAttributesExW) via a specific parameter would return with the bot information, which includes bot name, bot version, and a pointer to a function that will uninstall the bot. Antivirus software may utilize this function to identify ZeuS bot information and to clean ZeuS infection automatically. However, the new version of ZeuS also updated this functionality and removed the pointer to the bot uninstall function, thus, eliminating the opportunities for AVs to utilize this function," it said in a blog post.

Also, it said this new version showed current trackers may fail to decrypt its configuration file due to its updated encryption/decryption routine.

The new variant does not use RC4 encryption algorithm but an updated encryption/decryption algorithm instead, Trend Micro added.

“We believe this is a private version of a modified ZeuS and is created by a private professional gang comparable to LICAT. Though we have yet to see someone sell this new version of toolkit on underground forums, we expect that we will see more similar variants which will emerge in the not-so-distant future," it said.

Trend Micro said the new malware targets a wide selection of financial firms including those in the United States, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, and Ireland.

“More interestingly, it targets HSBC Hong Kong, which suggests that this new Zeus variant may be used in a global campaign, which may already include Asian countries," it said.

It added the emergence of these latest ZeuS variants implies ZeuS is still a very profitable piece of malware and that cybercriminals are continuously investing on the leaked source code. — TJD, GMA News
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