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Avalanche spam gang tap the power of ZeuS to boost cybercrime earnings

October 25, 2010 

SYDNEY, October 25. Reports that the world's most prolific phishing gang has diversified its operations over from conventional phishing emails to distributing the ZeuS Trojan is another sign that hackers are becoming incredibly sophisticated, says Imperva, the data security specialist.

More than anything, the attack vectors used by the Avalanche botnet gang, who have taken two years to migrate to the new fraud architecture, indicate that criminal hackers are now using lateral thinking to develop their fraudulent modus operandi, says Amichai Shulman, Imperva's chief technology officer.

"What is apparent from our research is that the Avalanche cybercrime gang, who were reported to be responsible for two-thirds of the world's phishing attacks this time last year, are also using advanced programming techniques," he said.

Shulman added: “The problem is that the banks, nor the users, are realising that the client browser is actually under the control of the hacker. So although a user is in fact authenticated to the bank, all transactions are actually being performed from that moment on by the Trojan.”

He said Imperva's research teams concluded that using a man-in-the-browser attack, similarly to those uncovered in September, enables the electronic criminals to stage automated withdrawals. The problem of detecting this type of fraud is all the more difficult as banks are not aware that the transaction’s initiator is not the actual owner of the account, rather it is an automated process. "This is why some financial institutions now require users to confirm by mobile phone text message when a new account payee is set up," said Shulman.

"Until the banks are able to prevent against this type of complex malware-driven fraud, the cybercriminal gangs will continue to evolve their already sophisticated strategies to beat the banks - and their customers "

Author:  IMPERVA

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