Some good news for a change! Microsoft has announced they have attacked and eliminated prominent Zeus Trojan Malware control centers, thus crippling the malware responsible for stealing tens of millions of dollars US in recent years. Zeus is a trojan malware that is injected onto a computer, usually by a victim visiting a website designed to do so, and then steals your online banking credentials and account information and proceeds to transfer your funds from your bank to one owned by a criminal organization. See these previous articles on banking malware from this blog: Electronic Banking: Do You Do It Safely? and Internet Security: Banking Trojan Attacks Smartphones.
Microsoft, in partnership with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, NACHA -the Electronic Payments Association, and the U.S. Marshals Service, has dismantled the most important computer centers that provided instructions to machines all over the world infected with Zeus.
Microsoft assumed control of over 800 of the malware’s Internet domains, which were used to infect computers with Zeus, serve as storage areas for stolen banking information, and providing programming information for the Zeus malware residing on victim computers.
It’s interesting to me that this operation to shut down Zeus incorporated the use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a U.S. federal law that extends penalties for those involved in organized crime. This blog has maintained, for some time, that organized crime has been responsible for the cybercriminal activity across the globe, including Zeus.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that in spite of this courageous, effective operation; Zeus is likely only wounded and will return. I say this because Zeus is operated by sophisticated crime organizations who would have designed Zeus and it’s network of controlling computers to have backup and redundancy built in just for such an occurrence as this. And because they have the money to completely recreate the Zeus network in a short period of time. In other words, we have shut down the petty crooks, who are expendable, and so far have allowed the crime organization who runs it to remain free.
That being said, I applaud Microsoft for taking this initiative to make the Internet safer for all of us. A good first step in the journey, most likely a long journey, fraught with danger of retaliation-both electronic and physical…but a good first step. Thank you, Microsoft.
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.