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Warning: New Botnet Threat Could Spell GameOver, Literally

Lettering, game over on displayLook out, users of Windows; the Greek god of thunder is angry, and he’s sent the Zeus family of malware out into the world. The one in question, GameOver Zeus, is particularly nasty. Thankfully, the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Justice managed to find a way to disrupt it, but that doesn’t mean that GameOver Zeus is out of the game – in two weeks, the threat will return with a vengeance.

Identified in 2011, the Zeus-family of malware is designed to steal banking credentials from unsuspecting victims. However, what makes this one particularly dangerous is that this Zeus malware is peer-to-peer, a trait that lets it use the communication between computers to spread and create bots, but they are more like “zombies.” According to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, GameOver Zeus “uses a decentralized network infrastructure of compromised personal computers and web servers to execute command-and-control.”

What this botnet does is completely compromise your computer, and then use it to create other bots just like it, kind of like a zombie horde. These bots can send spam, steal sensitive information, and even execute distributed denial-of-service attacks, which can have the annoying effect of preventing the end-user from accessing their own computer. The malware spreads by users clicking on infected websites and emails, asking them to view their bank statement.

Due to the botnet utilizing peer-to-peer technology and communications, the infection spreads through the network while distributing data to users. Even worse, this network subverts encryption technology and uses it for its own nefarious schemes. By abusing encryption, GameOver Zeus is able to remain undetected, which makes locating it difficult. Additionally, this also makes it very difficult to eliminate, since there isn’t a central system that can be targeted as a point of failure.

What Can You Do?
Stopping this infection might be difficult, but fret not – you still have two weeks to arm yourself against this malware. Here are three tips to prevent your computer from becoming a zombie-bot:

  • Make sure you always have the most up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware tools. Using antivirus software is the best way to identify threats before they can cause any problems, and destroy them. New malware is released all the time, and if your computer’s antivirus software isn’t up to date, you won’t be prepared to stand against it.
  • Change your passwords on a regular basis. If there’s even the slightest chance that your passwords have been compromised, take the time to change them as soon as possible. Changing your passwords often is a good practice, and it is recommended that you do so once every quarter. A little caution never hurt, right?
  • Use the most up-to-date operating system and application software. If you are running an unpatched operating system or using applications that aren’t updated, you’re going to have a bad time.

If you want to know all about the latest security threats and how to combat them, contact TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960. The dangers of the Internet might seem strange because they are unknown and limitless in number, but with TMS at your side, we’ll make sure you are ready for anything!