Updated on 23 September 2010
As cybercriminals become sneakier, so do the malware they write. With an increased focus on monetizing their efforts, increasingly, cybercriminals are coding malware which 'con' the victims into divulging information which can be used to steal their hard-earned money. Researchers at security firm Fortinet have identified malware samples which show four typical methods used by cybercriminals to fraud unsuspecting users.
In the last three months, these four pieces of malware spiked and showed high levels of activity within a very short period of time (from a day to a week).
Simda.B: This sophisticated malware poses as a Flash update in order to trick users into granting their full installation rights. Once installed, the malware steals the user’s passwords, allowing cybercriminals to infiltrate a victim’s email and social networking accounts to spread spam or malware, access Website admin accounts for hosting malicious sites and siphon money from online payment system accounts.
FakeAlert.D: This fake antivirus malware notifies users via a convincing-looking pop-up window that their computer has been infected with viruses, and that, for a fee, the fake antivirus software will remove the viruses from the victim’s computer.
Ransom.BE78: This is ransomware, a frustrating piece of malware that prevents users from accessing their personal data. Typically the infection either prevents a user’s machine from booting or encrypts data on the victim’s machine and then demands payment for the key to decrypt it. The main difference between ransomware and fake antivirus is that ransomware does not give the victim a choice regarding installation. Ransomware installs itself on a user’s machine automatically and then demands payment to be removed from the system.
Zbot.ANQ: This Trojan is the "client-side" component of a version of the infamous Zeus crime-kit. It intercepts a user’s online bank login attempts and then uses social engineering to trick them into installing a mobile component of the malware on their smartphones. Once the mobile element is in place, cybercriminals can then intercept bank confirmation SMS messages and subsequently transfer funds to a money mule's account.
While methods of monetizing malware have evolved over the years, cybercriminals today seem to be more open and confrontational in their demands for money - for faster returns, says Fortinet. It's not just about silently swiping passwords, but it's also about bullying infected users into paying.
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