New Zeus Trojan Uses Instant Messaging to Expedite ID Theft

Dennis Faas's picture

In an effort to expedite stolen personal identities and financial records of unsuspecting users, online deviants are using an Instant Messaging component of their attack software, coupled malware.

According to RSA Security, the Zeus Trojan informs hackers when their desired information has been poached. With Zeus, hackers can act faster in completing their time-sensitive illegal acts, which could lead to even more victims being targeted.

Internet security firms are very familiar with the Zeus Trojan, blaming it for an endless trail of online bank account heists.

Most believe Zeus is the invention of a Russian hacker who commonly refers to himself simply as "A-Z". The malware is featured in most underground circles where it is sold to emergent cybercriminals. Zeus can even be customized according to the needs of the hacker (attacking log-in information from a pre-specified list, for example). (Source:

Zeus not The First Instant Messaging Malware

Zeus is not the first case of a virus utilizing instant messaging. RSA Security also learned that the password-stealing program Sinowal has been using instant messaging components in their attacks for some time.

Still, Zeus appears to be more damaging than Sinowal. In total, about 3.6 million computers in the U.S. alone were affected by Zeus last month, making it one of the most prevalent malicious software programs in existence.

Protecting Yourself from Zeus Malware

You can protect yourself against a 'Zeus attack' by installing the latest security patches on your computer, by regularly scanning for malware, and by using a firewall. For further, detailed recommendations please download our Top 10 PC Security Essentials Tech Report from our self-serve kiosk.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a self-induced attack if a person is tricked into opening an email attachment containing the malware. Thus, be vigilant in checking your emails and especially any files that might accompany them.

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