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By | John Leyden 27th December 2014 13:30

Vawtrak challenges almighty ZeuS as king of the botnets


Crooks behind Vawtrak, a dangerous banking Trojan, are ramping up its reach and sophistication, security firms have warned.

Vawtrak currently ranks as the single most dangerous threat, according to PhishLabs. Only Zeus and its many variants (GameOver, KINS, ZeusVM, Zberp, etc.) taken as a single malware "family" would outrank Vawtrak.

Original Vawtrak attacks primarily targeted financial institutions in Japan but recently observed configuration files extend attacks on social networks, online retailers, analytics firms, game portals and more. Geographic distribution has apparently been expanded to specifically target the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Turkey, and Slovakia.

The technical sophistication of the worm has also increased through the incorporation of advanced webinjects that enables the capture of additional personal information.

Vawtrak is typically delivered through one of three different method: as the payload of an exploit kit, through malicious spam email attachments or by getting downloaded onto already compromised systems as a secondary malware infection.

Sophos reckons that the malware platform is primarily used to gain unauthorised access to bank accounts through online banking websites. But machines infected by Vawtrak form part of a botnet that collectively harvests login credentials for the online accounts to a wide variety of financial and other industry organisations.

The malware is being used as part of a Crimeware-as-a-Service (CaaS) biz model, according to Sophos. The UK-based security firm has published a white paper report on the malware (PDF) summarised in a blog post here.

Earlier research into the same malware by PhishLabs is summarised here. ®

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