World's nastiest trojan fools AV software

Pounces on banking passwords


One of the world's nastiest password-stealing trojans evades detection by the majority PCs running anti-virus programs, according to a study that examined 10,000 machines.

Zeus, a stealthy piece of malware that sits on a PC and waits for users to log in to bank websites, is detected just 23 per cent of time by AV programs, according to the study (PDF) released by security firm Trusteer. Even AV programs with up-to-date malware signatures were unable to identify the infection a majority of the time, the authors said.

Zeus, which also goes by the name Zbot and PRG, escapes detection using sophisticated techniques such as root-kit technology, the Trusteer report said. The company is able to detect it by examining the fingerprint Zeus leaves when it penetrates an infected PC's browser process.

A recent report estimated that Zeus is the No. 1 trojan, with 3.6 million infections in the US alone, or about 1 per cent of the installed base of PCs. Trusteer's study, which found Zeus accounted for 44 per cent of the banking malware infections, was consistent with that finding. After sneaking onto a PC, it sits quietly in the background until a user logs on to a financial website. It then sends the login credentials to a remote server in real time, sometimes by use of instant messaging programs.

Of Zeus-infected machines, about 31 per cent don't run AV at all and 14 percent run AV that's out of date. The remaining 55 per cent had AV programs that were up to date. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022