Zeus Cashes in on Facebook

The 6-year-old virus Zeus makes a comeback as a Russian cybercrime gang puts into play on Facebook. The result is drained bank accounts and the fast spread of the virus to other Facebook users. There is little help from Facebook, but precautionary measures are available to users.

Zeus Never Left

Zeus is continually modified and circulated by and within cybercriminal circles. Cyber gangs pay top dollar for the latest versions of this malware, those yet undetectable by the most advanced security measures. There are no signs that the popularity and use of Zeus in the perpetrations of cyber crimes will abate.

Classic Facebook Phishing

The virus is currently being used by a Russian cybercrime organization called the Russian Business Network. They use the virus on Facebook to hack into and drain the users’ bank accounts. This latest surge was only recently detected. The method is the classic phishing scam, where Facebook users are lured to the pages that have been set up by the ring to infect their accounts with the Zeus malware. Facebook users are unaware of anything suspicious. The malware lays in waiting until the account holders log into their bank accounts. The codes are then taken and used to quickly remove all remaining finds from the account before anything can be done to stop it.

Zeus is also used to send messages to all the contacts in a Facebook user’s account, thus proliferating the virus. With a life of its own, it spreads quickly. Another method used by the organization to spread Zeus is posts on user pages containing links to websites known to be connected to the criminals. The links, once visited, infect the users’ accounts with the malware.

All information collected by Zeus is sent to and stored in a collection server. Many attempts by independent agencies to locate the server over the years have failed. The server is reportedly integrating distributed computing, which will make the task of isolating it even more difficult. If found, the server will be confiscated to retrieve the data and to curb further activities.

Precautionary Measures

The New York Times reported that multiple notifications have been sent to Facebook administrators, but that there is little response or effort to rectify the situation. Facebook has taken measures, but these are little help to users after the fact.

The best defense against Facebook hackers is to remain extremely cautious on the web. Individuals cannot rely on protections provided by website administrators, or on actions to resolve current issues or to seek compensation. The free service, like many others, has long been easy to manipulate. Many phishing scams are carried out through “fake” Facebook profile pages because they are so easy to create.

One consolation for a large percentage of the population is that Zeus targets only Windows-based systems. Most users use the Windows platform, but other operating systems are safe. Since Zeus is constantly upgraded to remain undetectable, it is very difficult to remove from a system. There is no possible warning of infection or trace left behind. This makes it most difficult for anti-virus professionals to develop active defenses against it. The best defense against it is security features and practices to avoid infection. Verify everything before clicking, and use a VPN to encrypt your data.

A VPN service is to date the best way to secure your online activities. It creates a secure tunnel for your traffic, hides your IP so that you cannot be traced, and encrypts your data so it cannot be read. For more information on VPN services that improve your online security, please read our reviews on the Top 10 VPN Providers

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