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May 2010

The banking malware scourge

At first, it was hard to tell what was causing the "phantom" money transfers from the online bank account of a small North Carolina company. Investigators didn't know if the fraudulent wire and Automated Clearing House transfers were caused by an insider or malware, recalls Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence with the Counter Threat Unit at SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based security services provider. But the cause became quite clear when Jackson and his team examined the bookkeeper's computer: an infection by the Zeus Trojan. "In the past, Zeus was just spyware and wanted user names and passwords," he says. "This was the first banking version of Zeus. It got into the browser and changed things on the fly." The malware caused the business to lose nearly $98,000, Jackson says. That was in late 2007. Today, criminals are using the Zeus crimeware kit with astonishing success, pulling off six-figure heists from the online bank accounts of scores of small businesses, municipalities and nonprofits. The Federal Deposit Insurance ...

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Features in this issue

  • The banking malware scourge

    Criminals are using the Zeus banking Trojan and other malware to hijack online business banking accounts.

Columns in this issue