ZeuS baddies copy Conficker tactics

Malware phone-home ploy gets recycled


Variants of the infamous ZeuS cybercrime toolkit have begun using the tactics of the infamous Conficker worm in a bid to get ahead of security defences.

The so-called Licat worm, which is "strongly linked" to ZeuS, represents a likely attempt to reinforce botnets following recent arrests of suspected bank fraud money mules, as well as hackers tied to ZeuS in the UK, US and Ukraine over the last month or so.

Licat infects .EXE, .DLL and .HTML files on infected systems. The malware also generates around 800 pseudo-random domains a day, which it contacts in order to attempt to download new malware code.

Rik Ferguson, a security consultant at Trend Micro, told El Reg that the latter phone-home technique was most notably applied by Conficker and new for variants of ZeuS. "It's Conficker tactics but applied to ZeuS," Ferguson told El Reg.

The Licat-A malware strain targets a number of UK banks, including Barclays, HSBC and Alliance & Leicester. Infections by the malware have happened worldwide and are by no means confined to the UK.

More details on the malware can be found in a blog post by Ferguson here. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • OMIGOD: Cloud providers still using secret middleware
    All the news you may have missed from RSA this week

    RSA Conference in brief Researchers from Wiz, who previously found a series of four serious flaws in Azure's Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) agent dubbed "OMIGOD," presented some related news at RSA: Pretty much every cloud provider is installing similar software "without customer's awareness or explicit consent."

    In a blog post accompanying the presentation, Wiz's Nir Ohfeld and Shir Tamari say that the agents are middleware that bridge customer VMs and the provider's other managed services. The agents are necessary to enable advanced VM features like log collection, automatic updating and configuration syncing, but they also add new potential attack surfaces that, because customers don't know about them, can't be defended against.

    In the case of OMIGOD, that included a bug with a 9.8/10 CVSS score that would let an attacker escalate to root and remotely execute code. Microsoft patched the vulnerabilities, but most had to be applied manually.

    Continue reading
  • Cops' Killer Bee stings credential-stealing scammer
    Fraudster and two alleged accomplices nabbed in joint op

    An Interpol-led operation code-named Killer Bee has led to the arrest and conviction of a Nigerian man who was said to have used a remote access trojan (RAT) to reroute financial transactions and steal corporate credentials. Two suspected accomplices were also nabbed.

    The trio, aged between 31 and 38, were detained as part of a sting operation involving law enforcement agencies across 11 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

    The suspects were arrested in the Lagos suburb of Ajegunle and in Benin City, Nigeria. At the time of their arrests, all three men were in possession of fake documents, including fraudulent invoices and forged official letters, it is claimed.

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Suspected phishing email crime boss cuffed in Nigeria
    Interpol, cops swoop with intel from cybersecurity bods

    Interpol and cops in Africa have arrested a Nigerian man suspected of running a multi-continent cybercrime ring that specialized in phishing emails targeting businesses.

    His alleged operation was responsible for so-called business email compromise (BEC), a mix of fraud and social engineering in which staff at targeted companies are hoodwinked into, for example, wiring funds to scammers or sending out sensitive information. This can be done by sending messages that impersonate executives or suppliers, with instructions on where to send payments or data, sometimes by breaking into an employee's work email account to do so.

    The 37-year-old's detention is part of a year-long, counter-BEC initiative code-named Operation Delilah that involved international law enforcement, and started with intelligence from cybersecurity companies Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, and Trend Micro.

    Continue reading
  • Cyclops Blink malware sets up shop in ASUS routers
    Kremlin-backed Sandworm has its VPNFilter replacement, it seems

    Cyclops Blink malware has infected ASUS routers in what Trend Micro says looks like an attempt to turn these compromised devices into command-and-control servers for future attacks.

    ASUS says it's working on a remediation for Cyclops Blink and will post software updates if necessary. The hardware maker recommends users reset their gateways to factory settings to flush away any configurations added by an intruder, change the login password, make sure remote management access from the WAN is disabled, and ensure the latest firmware is installed to be safe.

    Cyclops Blink has ties to Kremlin-backed Sandworm, the criminal gang behind the nasty VPNFilter malware that in 2018 targeted routers and storage devices. The crew also carried out several high-profile attacks including the 2015 and 2016 cyber-assaults on Ukraine's electrical grid, NotPetya in 2017, and the French presidential campaign email leak that same year.

    Continue reading
  • Execs keep flinging money at us instead of understanding security, moan infosec pros
    Oh what a problem to have

    Fresh from years of complaining about underfunding and not having enough staff to deal with problems, infosec bods are now complaining that corporate execs merely firehose cash at them without getting their own hands dirty or engaging with the problem.

    That's one conclusion that could be drawn from a Trend Micro study published yesterday. Around half of businesses surveyed are spending more on "cyber attacks" than they used to, it said, while a similar number reckon their C-suites don't know what "cyber risk management" means – possibly something about ensuring monitors are firmly bolted to desks.

    "Low C-suite engagement combined with increased investment suggests a tendency to 'throw money' at the problem rather than develop an understanding of the cybersecurity challenges and invest appropriately," intoned Trend Micro.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022