"One of the most dangerous Swiss Army knives in malware is now available to billions," said Sean Bodmer, senior threat intelligence analyst at security vendor Damballa.
According to a blog posted by Bodmer on the Damballa website, the SpyEye builder patch source code (release 1.3.45) was leaked by French security researcher Xyliton, part of the Reverse Engineers Dream (RED) Crew.
"He was able to locate a copy of SpyEye builder 1.3.45 and created a walkthrough/tutorial that enables the reader [once in possession of SpyEye builder] to crack the hardware identification [HWID] which has been secured using VMProtect, a licensing tool that locks an installation of software to a particular physical device," the blog says.
The SpyEye malware kit has been widely used in cyberspace for some time now, but it generally was sold at a price of around $10,000 -- not a price paid by the average script kiddie, Bodmer observes. Now, with the crack, the kit is being sold inexpensively on hacker forums.
"What this means is that anybody can use it," Bodmer says.
Perhaps just as important, the "crack" enables malware developers to avoid the attribution that was previously associated with the high-priced toolkit, Bodmer states. Where previous exploits using the kit could often be traced back to the original buyer of the toolkit, there have already been some SpyEye exploits spotted that have no attribution, he says.
"This will make it more difficult to track SpyEye botnets back to the source," Bodmer says.
SpyEye, which incorporated elements of the popular Zeus Trojan earlier this year, was already ranked as one of the top three threats on the Web this year, Bodmer says, infecting some 2 million devices. "Now I expect that number to climb," he says, possibly even displacing TDL and rogue antivirus threats, which occupy the other two spots in the top three.
"SpyEye has been on everyone’s priority list of threat discussions for quite some time, and is now going to become an even more pervasive threat," Bodmer says. "The same thing happened when the Zeus kit source code was released in March 2011.
"Damballa Labs has been tracking dozens of new Zeus bot operators since the leak earlier this year -- and now that SpyEye has been outed, it is only a matter of time before this becomes a much larger malware threat than any we have seen to date," the blog states. "So for the next few months, please hold onto your seats people… this ride is about to get very interesting."
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