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By | Dan Goodin 15th November 2007 00:03

eBay Trojan morphs to snare motor victims

As eBay security czar discusses new measures

A sophisticated Trojan menacing eBay Motors users continues to circulate, according to researchers from Symantec, who say the malware has morphed three times in the last week in an attempt to evade detection.

Trojan.Bayrob is in constant contact with a fleet of control servers so it can be updated in real time - all the better to trick victims into making pricey fraudulent purchases. It regularly downloads fake pages that masquerade as authentic eBay content and program updates, according to this entry on the Symantec Security Response Blog.

The new details came the same day that eBay's chief information security officer told web application developers that user confidence in security is one of the the online auction house's most crucial assets.

"If the buyers don't trust the marketplace they're purchasing in, the transactions won't happen and they'll go somewhere else," Dave Cullinane told attendees of the AppSec US 2007 Conference being held at eBay's San Jose headquarters. He said eBay is rolling out several new initiatives to combat fraud on its site. Among them, the company is working to establish partnerships with other web-based companies to tackle common security problems.

Cullinane has his work cut out. Last month, The Register detailed how Bayrob contributed to one buyer's loss of $8,600 by causing her web browser to display a fraudulent listing for a 2005 Jeep Liberty. In essence, it installed a web server on her machine that mimicked sites run by eBay, Carfax.com and other sites in an attempt to convince her the auction was real.

"Once this Trojan is running on your machine it is impossible to trust any Web page that you are viewing," Symantec researcher Liam OMurchu wrote. "Due to how convincing this Trojan is, victims are often left confused when they realise they have been scammed."

The Trojan arrives in an email responding to a user's query about a vehicle listing and is disguised as pictures. Once installed, it uses the victim's IP address to make an educated guess about where the victim is located. Armed with that information, scammers say the vehicle is stored somewhere far enough away that it's impractical for the buyer to travel to.

The Trojan then spoofs pages on eBay, Carfax and other sites, so information presented about the vehicle is consistent with the ruse being presented by the con artists, according to Symantec.

Another change eBay is implementing to improve security involves a change in the metrics used to judge employee performance, Cullinane said. Like many internet companies, eBay has a voracious appetite for new content and features.

He recounted a security audit at eBay that discovered no one had activated a logging feature for a wire transfer system that should have been used to detect security problems. When managers researched how the lapse happened, they discovered the penalties for missing deadlines were more severe than those for making security mistakes.

"Our metric was much more about getting stuff out the door," Cullinane said. "There was no real consequence for not doing it securely."

AppSec is sponsored by the The Open Web Application Security Project and the Web Application Security Consortium. ®

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