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McAfee warns of 'Project Blitzkrieg' banking malware threats

14 Dec 2012
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McAfee has warned of an ongoing malware attack which has already compromised hundreds of bank accounts.

The McAfee researchers said the attack, known as 'Project Blitzkrieg' has already claimed up to 500 victims and could begin to wreak havoc on banking institutions in the first quarter of 2013.

Project Blitzkrieg relies on a modified version of a nasty piece of financial malware dubbed 'Prinimalka'. McAfee has warned the latest attacks bear the hallmarks of a sophisticated organised cybercrime operations.

McAfee Labs threat researcher Ryan Sherstobitoff said that the campaign was made public in September, when a hacker named ' vorVzakone' issued a forum posting outlining the operation. While early reports were sceptical of the seriousness of the attack, McAfee research suggests that the project is a serious threat to the financial industry.

According to Sherstobitoff, the Prinimalka malware operates much like the 'Zeus' crimeware Trojan, installing itself on a host machine and injecting code into otherwise legitimate web pages which harvests account credentials and user information.

The infected machines will occasionally dial in to a host server in order to transmit information and receive new instructions. Infected systems are given a list of financial site URLs which, when detected, trigger the account harvesting and activity monitoring activities.

Unlike previous campaigns, however, Project Blitzkrieg contains the added element of a strong criminal operation as its backbone.

Researchers believe that the hacking group has already put measures in place to quickly extract the money from compromised accounts when the next phase of the operation begins in spring of next year.

"Although Gozi and Prinimalka have been around for years, this attack combines both a technical, innovative backend with the tactics of a successful, organised cybercrime movement," Sherstobitoff said.

"A good example is that vorVzakone’s group has also organised the mules for subscribing cybercriminals and provides an easy, dynamic administrative interface to select drops."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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