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New Zeus Variant Taunts Antivirus Vendors

Researchers discover 'hidden message' inside new variant of the banking Trojan

A new version of the Zeus/Zbot banking Trojan comes with a message inside in which its creators thank and taunt some antivirus companies for "helping" them better their malware.

Researchers at Trend Micro today blogged about the new binary file, which they identify as TROJ_ZBOT.BTM. Zeus steals online banking information, including user names and passwords, and has earned a reputation as one of the deadliest banking Trojans.

The latest iteration of Zeus/Zbot includes a message that thanks "KAV," apparently referring to Kaspersky Lab, as well as Avira. The message appeared to be a jab at the AV industry, in general. "The new variant came with a hidden message that thanks and taunts some well-known antivirus companies for the help they provide the cybercriminals behind the malware to constantly improve on their craft," according to a blog post by Trend Micro today.

Trend Micro says the message is uncovered when the binary file unpacks and copies itself into the victim system's memory. "This taunting message shows that cybercriminals have systems that monitor the performance of AV companies in detecting their craft, and they are constantly updating their software to avoid detection," Trend says.

Zeus has been in the news a lot this week. Two new Trojans have been spotted as possible competitors to the wildly popular malware -- one that is spread via the Zbot/Zeus botnet and another that can delete Zeus from an infected system so it remains the lone Trojan.

And Webense today issued an alert about an ongoing wave of targeted attacks using Zeus against government agencies and military departments around the world.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio


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