Zeus 2 hits 100,000 UK computers


A Zeus version 2 botnet has been uncovered for the first time and is controlling over 100,000 computers, a security company has warned.

Of these systems, 98 per cent are located in the UK and the botnet has been acquiring a wide range of information, claimed security firm Trusteer.

The stolen data includes online banking login details, credit and debit card numbers, as well as access information for email accounts and social networks.

Mickey Boodaei, Trusteer's chief executive (CEO), told IT PRO this is not the first time such "regional malware" has been aimed at the UK.

"There are criminal groups who are very focused on the UK market," Boodaei warned.

In terms of how Zeus 2 differs from its infamous predecessor, Boodaei explained the new malware is superior at avoiding anti-virus protection as each Zeus 2 version differs from the next, even if downloaded from the same location.

Around nine in 10 Zeus 2 attacks get through anti-virus software, which is "quite significant," Boodaei said.

"We have seen a very significant shift of criminals from the older versions of Zeus to Zeus version 2," the chief executive added.

Trusteer uncovered how much the Zeus 2 botnet had achieved after managing to gain access to the fraudsters' drop servers and command and control centre.

The security company also managed to view the interface used by the attackers to control the botnet.

This led to further discoveries, notably of a search function that allowed the hackers to easily extract information stored on their database.

The fraudsters could search for details from a specific organisation by simply typing part of the company's URL into the search box and then pick out the login details they were after.

Following the Zeus 2 discovery, Trusteer has been in contact with the relevant authorities in the UK.

"It's at an early stage. We've contacted the police and we are in the process of transferring them all of the information we captured. I believe it is going to take them some time to process this information and do something with it," Boodaei said.

The Zeus Trojan is one of the most prevalent forms of malware and a version was recently discovered in the Mumba botnet, which had infected 55,000 computers and stolen over 60GB of personal data.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.