Security Experts:

Russian Banking Malware Makes a Return

The Carberp Trojan, which has been around for years and has been proven able of bypassing layered defenses, has made a comeback of sorts. According to Trend Micro researchers, new versions of the malware have been observed on the criminal markets.

Last march, SecurityWeek reported that eight men were arrested in Moscow for boosting millions of dollars from the nation’s banks by installing the Carberp Trojan on their victim’s computers. At the time, the eight men were said to have walked away with anywhere from 60 million rubles ($2 million USD) to 130 million rubles ( $4.5 million USD). The arrests were assumed to have signaled the end of the crime tool and losses it caused.

Months later however, Kaspersky Lab discovered a mobile variant of Carberp, spreading to Android devices after they are connected to a compromised PC. The mobile variant is actually part of a two-stage attack, used to capture SMS authorization codes and use them to process fraudulent banking transactions initiated by the PC-based malware in stage one. SecurityWeek covered that development here

Now, according to Trend Micro, improved versions (which are obscenely priced) of the malware for both PC and mobile are available for criminals to use, suggesting that the arrests last year only slowed Carberp down, and did nothing to kill it.

“...this malware downloads new plugins to complement its information stealing routines, including vnc.plug and vncdll.plug that help a possible attacker to remotely access an infected system and Ifobs.plug used in monitoring Internet banking. This backdoor also connects to certain control-and-command (C&C) servers to get commands from a possible remote user. Like other CARBERP variants, it targets Russian banks,” Trend Micro reported

Trend Micro’s Chief Technology Officer, Raimund Genes, predicted that 2013 would be the year that criminals retooled their existing crime kits and updated them to improve performance and increase criminal gains.

“CARBERP is proof that the bad guys are pursuing this route. Thus, we can expect more tried-and-tested threats like CARBERP to surface this year, though with fine-tuned features compared to its predecessors,” Trend’s blog post noted.

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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.