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Shifu Banking Trojan Targets UK Wealth Management Firms

Roughly a month ago, a new banking Trojan was found targeting the customers of 14 Japanese banks, and the malware is now said to be attacking banks and wealth management firms in the UK.

Roughly a month ago, a new banking Trojan was found targeting the customers of 14 Japanese banks, and the malware is now said to be attacking banks and wealth management firms in the UK.

Called Shifu, the sophisticated Trojan has been around since April and borrows features from a series of well-known malware familes, which allow it to capture passwords and user credentials from online forms, steal private certificates, and perform other actions that can help attackers hijack accounts and steal money.

According to IBM X-Force researchers, the malware has started to actively target banks and wealth management firms in the UK.

IBM’s security team says that the attacks started on September 22 and have targeted 18 organizations in an effort to conduct fraudulent transactions.

Researchers also explained that Shifu is based on a series of “tried-and-true Trojan mechanisms” from infamous malware and that it might have been created by savvy developers already familiar with other types of banking malware.

However, it appears that Shifu has evolved when compared to the Japanese attacks, and has already received internal changes meant to evade security measures.

The newly spotted UK samples reveal that the Trojan no longer injects into the explorer.exe process, but that it launches a new svchost instance which starts performing nefarious actions from that process, IBM said.

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Shifu reportedly appeared in the UK in mid-September, but it infected only a few machines each day in the first week. By September 22, however, the infection campaign started spreading and hundreds of computers were infected per day.

The infection is reportedly spreading through email spam in an effort to lead banking and wealth management customers to infected websites hosting the Angler exploit kit (EK). Angler, which emerged in 2013, has the ability to exploit a broad range of vulnerabilities in HTML, Java, JavaScript, Adobe Flash, Silverlight, and more.

“Shifu’s injections are selective and change according to the targeted entity. In some cases, it replaces the bank’s entire page with a fake replica designed to harvest the data Shifu’s operators are after,” Limor Kessem, cybersecurity evangelist at IBM, explained earlier this month. “In other cases, the Trojan displays social engineering content on the page using JavaScript injections to ask victims for additional authentication elements it will need for a subsequent fraudulent transaction, such as PII or one-time passwords.”

According to IBM X-Force researchers, the new Shifu campaign in the UK is a modest one at the moment, but it is expected to be followed by more widespread infection sprees in the UK. Furthermore, they predict that the Trojan will propagate in other parts of Europe and in the United States soon after.

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