zbot Trojan: Two young malware creators arrested after Metropolitan Police investigation

A male and female, both aged 20 from Manchester, are being held in connection with an enquiry into the malicious code, which is designed to help cybercriminals target the financial details contained within any infected machine.

A spokesperson for officers working on the case explained that the Trojan, which is known as zbot as well as ZeuS, is one of the most widespread and effective examples of hacking tools currently circulating the internet. It has already been used to help steal the financial details of thousands of people around the world, with bank account and credit card information its main target.

In a statement it was revealed that the zbot Trojan permitted the harvesting of millions of individual pieces of personal financial data over an extended period, with the central pool expanding by many hundreds of thousands daily. As such the police believe that vast database skimmed from many individuals and businesses could have a serious impact if its potential is exploited by the criminals behind the malware.

The Trojan also gathers passwords and user names for any social networking sites that the victims may use and this data too is then transferred onto servers operated by the criminals. The malware itself has been spread using phishing sites posing as Facebook pages.

The final damaging act of the malware, which makes it a particularly persistent pest, is its ability to prevent antivirus software from automatically updating itself, allowing it to remain undetected and unhealed on infected computers for extended periods.

The arrested pair have been granted bail until March next year after facing rigorous questioning and a further investigation is underway.

Security expert Graham Cluley indicated that the zbot Trojan was part of a wider family of malicious software, each one with a different disguise aimed at harvesting personal and financial details. Cluley also explained that the criminals would use stolen social networking accounts as a platform to spread the malware to other unsuspecting victims and that this had contributed significantly to the speed with which it had spread.

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