You may have seen a dialog window pop up before while browsing the internet, a notification that your computer is infected with a Zeus virus accompanied by a number to call for Microsoft or Apple support.
When this happens, your computer is not infected by a Zeus virus. Not yet, at least.
A Zeus virus is a type of malware (classified as a Trojan horse malware package) with a variety of possible uses. Most infamously, it is used to steal banking information via keystroke logging and/or form grabbing. Recently the Zeus virus has also been used to install CryptoLocker ransomware, a threat to individuals and businesses that locks important files until a bargain is made with the hackers responsible.
Popular methods of installing this virus include drive-by downloads (when a program is unknowingly installed as part of a package), phishing, and the tech support scams that were previously mentioned. In the latter method, users call a number typically advertising itself as Microsoft support in order to fix the fake issue that's presented. Once the call is made, arrangements are set for a remote access program to be installed by the scammers. At this point, the victims' fate is almost sealed. Criminals have direct access to their computer, and the victims can be extorted out of money or their computer can become a cog in their machine.
The way this virus works is relatively simple:
1. A malware coder writes software that exploits the vulnerabilities of computer systems, and installs a Trojan to house it.
2. The victim is then exposed to the virus, and after the malware is installed it begins its work gathering user credentials.
3. Banking credentials are then siphoned into a compromised server, waiting for the hacker to retrieve them.
4. While remotely accessing a compromised computer, the hacker logs in to the victim's bank account.
5. Funds are transferred to "money mules", people who are used as an intermediary that take a small percentage of the stolen money for themselves.
6. Once the money is transferred from the mules to the people responsible, the vicious cycle repeats and more victims are found and exploited.
Zeus can be incredibly difficult to detect, using advanced stealth techniques to shield itself from anti-virus programs. The best offense is a good defense, and good practice amongst users may cut the head off of the metaphorical snake. Denying hackers access one instance at a time can keep your information safe, as well as other's.
When was your last virus scan? Are you concerned your computer may be infected? Contact Abacus IT today! Call (310) 271-9771 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!