Breaking: GameOver Zeus Mutates, Launches Attacks

Today, PhishMe’s analysts identified a new banking Trojan that is based heavily on the GameOver Zeus binary. The GameOver Zeus mutation was distributed as an attachment in three spam email templates, utilizing the simplest method of infection to compromise end users’ systems.

The E-mail spam campaign

From 9:06 AM to 9:55 AM we intercepted spam messages claiming to have been sent from NatWest Bank.

One of the email messages used to distribute the new GameOver Zeus variant is listed below. As you can see, the message uses a common social engineering technique. It alerts the recipient to the risk of bogus emails and advises the recipient to be on their guard. It even provides information to help the bank’s customers avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime. Of course, the email does not mention not opening email attachments from unknown or suspicious sources, such as

From 9:34 AM to 10:50 AM we saw spam messages with the subject “Essentra PastDue” like these:

This message was far more succinct and to the point. Claiming that the attached file had actually been requested by the recipient of the message.

The longest lasting of the spam campaigns was imitating M&T Bank, with a subject of “E100 MTB ACH Monitor Event Notification. That campaign is still ongoing at the time of writing.

The final message was also sent from a suspicious domain. The email is poorly formatted, there is no branding, and there is no signature on the email – all common signs that the email is not genuine. However, a curious M&T bank customer who lacks security awareness may open the email attachment following the instructions provided. Opening the file in a web browser will result in infection with the Trojan.

The malicious payload

The three spam campaigns each had a .zip attachment. Each of those compressed files contained the same file, which was a form of “.scr” file with the hash:

MD5:   5e5e46145409fb4a5c8a004217eef836

At this timestamp (1600 Central time, 7 hours after we first noticed the spam campaign) the detection rate at VirusTotal was 10/54 – Still very low. Relatively few anti-virus vendors had identified the file as malicious.

When the attachment is opened the malware payload is executed. The malware attempts to make contact with certain websites in accordance with a domain generation algorithm. The goal of these contact attempts is to connect to a server that provide instructions to the malware. Many sandboxes would have failed to launch the malware, as the presence of VMWare Tools will stop the malware from executing. Other sandboxes would not have noticed the successful connection, because the malware took between 6 and 10 minutes to randomly generate the single domain name that was used to launch the new Zeus Trojan and download its bank information “webinject” files from the attackers C&C server.

The Domain Generation Algorithm is a method used by cybercriminals to regain access to their chosen botnet. Based on the current date, random-looking domain names are calculated and the malware reaches out via the Internet to see if that domain exists. Examples of these are listed below:

PhishMe’s analysts have confirmed with the FBI and Dell SecureWorks that the original GameOver Zeus is still “locked down”.  This new DGA list is not related to the original GameOver Zeus, although it bears a striking resemblance to the DGA utilized by that Trojan, suggesting this is a new GameOver Zeus variant. In addition to a new DGA, the malware seems to have traded its Peer to Peer Infrastructure for a new Fast Flux-hosted C&C strategy.

The successful domain: was registered this morning in China with the registrar “”:

Domain ID: D61087891-BIZ
Sponsoring Registrar: TODAYNIC.COM, INC.
Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 697
Registrar URL (registration services):
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registrant ID: TOD-43737096
Registrant Name: Whois Agent
Registrant Organization: Whois Privacy Protection Service
Registrant Address1: Xiamen
Registrant City: Xiamen
Registrant State/Province: FUJIAN
Registrant Postal Code: 361000
Registrant Country: China
Registrant Country Code: CN
Registrant Phone Number: +57.59222577844
Registrant Facsimile Number: +57.59222577844
Registrant Email: [email protected]
Created by Registrar: TODAYNIC.COM, INC.
Last Updated by Registrar: TODAYNIC.COM, INC.
Domain Registration Date: Thu Jul 10 09:26:06 GMT 2014
Domain Expiration Date: Thu Jul 09 23:59:59 GMT 2015
Domain Last Updated Date: Thu Jul 10 09:26:07 GMT 2014

In the original GameOver Zeus, the domain generation algorithm and its associated command and control resources, serve the botnet as a fallback to the peer-to-peer botnet which is this malware’s primary means of distributing instructions to infected machines. Using the websites associated with the domain generation algorithm, the GameOver botnet operators are able to distribute commands to infected machines that have lost contact with the peer-to-peer botnet.

The binary that is dropped and injected into Internet Explorer after contacting the C&C receives a random name. The version seen this afternoon is currently detected by 8 of 54 AV products at VirusTotal, although others may detect it using non-signature based methods.

A little over a month ago, the GameOver Zeus botnet suffered a major blow as law enforcement carried out a takeover of the domains associated with the domain generation algorithm and made efforts to remove this malware from infected machines. Both actions severely limited the ability of the botnet operators to issue commands to victims’ machines.

Those efforts seemed to halt the spread of this dangerous malware and led to its disappearance from malicious spam emails, albeit only temporarily.

PhishMe was able to identify a number of the command-and-control hosts believed to be involved in the attacker’s attempt to revive the GameOver botnet. Following contact with any of these hosts, the malware began to exhibit behaviors characteristic of the GameOver Trojan—including using the characteristic list of URLs and URL substrings used for Web injects, form-grabs, and its other information stealing capabilities.

This discovery indicates the criminals responsible for GameOver’s distribution do not intend to give up on their botnet, even after suffering one of the most expansive botnet takeovers/takedowns in history.

As always, PhishMe researchers are closely monitoring the situation and will provide meaningful threat intelligence when there are further developments with the GameOver Zeus Trojan and its new variants.

2nd Annual Phish Throwdown: This Time It’s Personal

We had a lot of fun with our Black Hat email contest last summer, but this year, it’s time to get personal. No, we’re not talking about chatting over dinner and a movie. We’re talking about a contest that takes off the gloves and brings the best recipe for a highly personalized spear phishing email.

Attackers using Dropbox to target Taiwanese government

While we have previously mentioned cyber-crime actors using Dropbox for malware delivery, threat actors are now using the popular file-sharing services to target nation-states. According to The Register, attackers targeted a Taiwanese government agency using a RAT known as PlugX (also known as Sogu or Korplug).

From an anti-forensics perspective, PlugX is a very interesting piece of malware. One of the main ways it loads is by using a technique similar to load order hijacking.

PhishMe Receives Enterprise-Ready Rating from the Skyhigh CloudTrust™ Program

Chantilly, Va., June 25, 2014 — PhishMe® Inc., the leading provider of phishing mitigation and detection for organizations concerned about human susceptibility to sophisticated cyber attacks, announced today that it has been awarded the Skyhigh CloudTrust™ rating of enterprise-ready for its core PhishMe platform. Skyhigh Enterprise-Ready cloud services fully satisfy the most stringent requirements for data protection, identity verification, service security, business practices, and legal protection.

Dyre Banking Trojan: What You Need to Know

Beware of the Dyre banking Trojan! – A new malware threat that steals financial information such as login credentials. News of rhe Dyre banking Trojan has been circulating the web recently, following its discovery.

Dyre or Dyreza as it is also known exhibits classic banking Trojan behaviors such as using “man-in-the-middle” attacks to steal private information from victims. It is also being used on customers of certain banks in targeted attacks.

PhishMe identified this new malware on June 11, 2014. The Trojan is distributed via spam email messages that used similar email templates to other banking Trojan and malware distribution campaigns. Rather than infection occurring via a malicious attachment, the messages contained a link to a file hosted on A free cloud storage provider. This campaign follows a recent trend in which cloud-hosting providers such as and Dropbox are used to host the malicious payloads.

As others within the blogosphere have noted, the Dyre banking Trojan is unique and represents a new type of malware being used by cybercriminals to steal banking credentials. Despite this novelty, its basic functionalities follow those that have long been employed by malware authors to exfiltrate private information from compromised systems. It’s a case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The Dyre banking Trojan works by ensuring that its hostile code is linked to the code of the victim’s web browser. As victim’s browse the Web, their web browser is effectively turned against them. This is part of the classic “man-in-the-middle” attack used by many malware types, including the prolific and notorious Zeus banking Trojan. As seen below, the binary data from this hostile code references browsers by name.

Part of the functionality is provided by “hooking” this malicious code into the browser’s runtime. Malicious actions then occur when the victim visits specific URLs or domains. This method has been seen before. Zeus Trojan variants and other banking Trojans such as Cridex use similar tactics. This can be seen in the malicious code itself as a list of URLs for popular banking websites, including the following:

  • businessaccess .citibank .citigroup .com/assets/
  • cashproonline .bankofamerica .com/assets/
  • www .bankline .natwest .com/
  • www .bankline .rbs .com/
  • www .bankline .ulsterbank .ie/

The “hooking” and the focus on a set of banks are examples of ways in which this new banking Trojan reuses methods common to many other types of malware. These methods are expected of many modern banking Trojans and are not out of the ordinary.

How is this threat actor likely to attack your organization? The source code of the malware provides a clue—in fact, it is the source of the name “Dyre”.

The hostile code “hooked” to browser processes by the malware contains a reference to the location of a “.pdb” or program database file. Compilers store data for debugging using this file type. More important to those seeking threat intelligence, it provides some information about how the malware writer or writers created this malicious software.

In the fight against malware distributors, knowledge is a powerful weapon. Leveraging actionable threat intelligence gives you the opportunity to identify the source of the infection. Armed with that information it is easier to mitigate the threat. PhishMe analyses these and other threats and uses the information to deliver active threat reports to help organizations take fast action to prevent malware attacks.

Machine-readable threat intelligence (MRTI) is provided in multiple formats to ensure that organizations are better prepared for malware and phishing attacks, thus preventing them from disrupting business processes and causing financial harm. Of course, not all organizations require threat intelligence to be fed through other systems. We also provide human-readable reports on the latest threats, allowing deeper analysis of the latest, and most serious threats. After all, being forewarned is being forearmed.

Project Dyre: New RAT Slurps Bank Credentials, Bypasses SSL

When analyzing tools, tactics, and procedures for different malware campaigns, we normally don’t see huge changes on the attackers’ part. However, in the Dropbox campaign we have been following, not only have the attackers shifted to a new delivery domain, but they have started to use a new malware strain, previously undocumented by the industry, named “Dyre”. This new strain not only bypasses the SSL mechanism of the browser, but attempts to steal bank credentials.