Security Experts:

New Zeus Variant "Sphinx" Offered for Sale

Sphinx, a new banking Trojan based on the source code of the notorious Zeus malware, is up for sale for $500.

According to its developers, Sphinx operates fully through the Tor anonymity network and is immune to sinkholing, blacklisting, and’s ZeuS Tracker tool. The creators of Sphinx have told potential customers that they don’t necessarily need bulletproof hosting to operate a botnet, although it’s recommended.

The list of Sphinx’s features includes form grabbing and web injects for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Tor Browser, a keylogger, a certificate grabber, and an FTP and POP3 grabber.

Sphinx is designed to work on Windows Vista and Windows 7 with User Account Control (UAC) enabled, and it works even on user accounts with low privileges, such as the “Guest” account, the developers said.

The Trojan’s Backconnect VNC capability allows users to make money transfers directly from the infected computer. The feature is also useful for disabling security solutions present on the victim’s device. The Backconnect SOCKS in Sphinx enables attackers to use their victims as a SOCKS proxy, according to an August 15 forum post advertising the malware.

Sphinx also allows cybercriminals to steal digital certificates that can later be used to sign malware, and use webinjects to change the content of a webpage to trick users into handing over sensitive information.

For command and control (C&C) communications, the malware uses whitelisted processes in an effort to bypass firewalls.

“During the session, the bot can get the configuration to send the accumulated reports, report their condition to the server and receive commands to execute on the computer. The session takes place via HTTP-protocol, all data sent by a bot and received from the server is encrypted with a unique key for each botnet,” the developers said.

Sphinx’s control panel is developed in PHP and it’s the same as the control panel of Zeus. It provides botnet operators information such as number of infected devices, number of online bots, number of new bots, daily bot activity, and country and operating system statistics.

“We recommend using Internet Explorer traffic for exploit-kit to get maximal profit when using Sphinx,” Sphinx devs noted.

Sphinx is currently sold for $500, amount that can be paid in Bitcoin or DASH, a privacy-centric digital currency.

IT security consultant Bev Robb noted on Norse’s Dark Matters blog that Sphinx has been verified by the administrator of a hacker forum.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.