Security Experts:

Cybercriminals Using 'Lego' Approach to Crime Kit Development

Research from security firm Trusteer shows that when it comes to crime, sometimes criminals prefer to build things from scratch, taking a Lego-type of approach to crime kit development. Expanding on research from Trend Micro, Trusteer says that this type of approach is present in the development and sale of custom malware designed to harvest banking data.

As mentioned, Trusteer’s research expands on the work taken on by Trend Micro, which SecurityWeek reported on last week. At the time, Trend reported that Automatic Transfer System (ATS) development has become a booming turn-key business for many crime kit developers.

As it turns out, this is only one part of the overall scheme, as Trusteer is reporting that malware developers are offering individual mix-and-match features to criminals looking to make a fast buck.

In the days of old – or within the last year or so – criminals sold crime kits with malware-based pricing. Thus, WebInjects were developed for the platform (i.e. SpyEye) and sold as such. This gave way to bulk orders for lower costs, and regional price breaks (costs determined on the area to be attacked – such as a group of banks in the UK).

“The new pricing strategy we discovered charges for webinjects based on the specific features requested and user information they are designed to steal. In one advertisement we came across, the criminal offers to develop webinjects for any malware platform (e.g., SpyEye, Zeus, Ice IX) and target specified by the buyer,” Trusteer wrote in a blog post.

Among the options are Balance Grabber ($50-$100), which captures the victim’s balance information and sends it off to a command and control server; Balance Replacer ($200-$300), which updates the “actual” within the banking application, in order to hide fraudulent transactional amounts; TAN Grabber ($150-$200), which captures one-time passwords; and finally there is the ATS itself, which runs for about $1500 -$2,000.

“This latest development in webinject marketing illustrates how the underground marketplace is following traditional software industry pricing schemes by offering a la carte and complete “suite” pricing options. Unfortunately, buying high quality webinjects is getting easier and more affordable, which opens the door for more criminals to get into the business of online banking fraud,” the blog post adds.

“Criminals are no longer bound by rigid malware configurations designed to conduct specific exploits at specific institutions. Criminals can now specify the precise exploit and target institution that they believe will maximize their ability to successfully commit fraud.”

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.