F R A U D R E P O R T
THE CARBERP TROJAN CODE IS RELEASED
#INTH3WILD – WHAT’S NEXT?
Be it internal disagreements within the Carberp team, or law enforcement pressure
following the arrests in 2012, the Carberp cyber gang members have disbanded, leaving
their Trojan code publicly available following a failed attempt to sell it. Reminiscent of the
ZeuS Trojan’s source code leak, we can expect a few things to happen following the
incident. But before doing so, let’s review the events that followed the ZeuS leak in 2011.
ZEUS SOURCE CODE LEAK
An attempt to sell the ZeuS source code in an underground forum for – according to some
estimates – as high as $100,000 started in early 2011. Following the failed sale, Slavik,
the developer of ZeuS, handed over the code to a cyber rival, Gribodemon, the notorious
SpyEye developer. The underground, abuzz with the news, keenly awaited the release of
a merged, mighty SpyEye-ZeuS variant. Before one could be released, the ZeuS code was
leaked and made publicly available.
As predicted by many, different offspring began appearing, built on top of the ZeuS
v188.8.131.52 codebase, and included Ice IX and Odin (both appearing in 2011), and most
considerably – Citadel making its appearance in early 2012.
As opposed to Ice IX, that mainly fixed bugs in the ZeuS code, Citadel was a major leap
forward in terms of the malware’s functionality. Citadel not only repaired bugs in ZeuS,
but deployed clever security measures to protect the malware and its infrastructure, as
well as provided numerous new plug-ins to boost the Trojan’s functionality. In terms of a
Fraud-as-a-Service (FaaS) business offering, Citadel became a lucrative commercial
operation, offering its “customers” a CRM, paid tech support and constant version
updates. In fact, Citadel was so successful that botmasters started replacing/upgrading
existing bots with the malware.
But as with many great empires of the past, soon they will fall. Starting in mid-2012, RSA
researchers began noticing the slow demise of commercial Trojan offerings. In April, the
Ice IX business shut down with the disappearance of its developer; SpyEye then made its
exit in May; and in a surprising turn of events, Citadel’s spokesperson – “Aquabox”, was
banned from the only forum he was selling on (following a quarrel over customer
A NEW GENERATION OF MALWARE – WHAT’S NEXT?
So, if history repeats itself, what are we to expect? With the above in mind, the following
–– We’ll see a proliferation of Carberp-based attacks. While this is likely less probable,
the leak could spawn an entire business of low-level developers recompiling Carberp
and offering it for sale “as is,” with no further feature developments or bug fixes. To
demonstrate, the ZeuS code that once sold for $3,000 to $5,000 is now readily
available for as low as $11 in the underground. In terms of Trojan operation and
feature set, Carberp is far more complex than ZeuS and less organized for the untrained
cybercriminal, making it less appealing for would-be botmasters (or script kiddies).
Not to mention the major weaknesses reported in the Carberp server-side, that make
it “easier to hack than SpyEye” according to one security researcher. With the
abundance of ZeuS and ZeuS-based malware – according to RSA’s Anti-Fraud
Command Center (AFCC), this malware’s share is over 83% of all Trojan attacks –
and at very cheap prices, it would be surprising to see Carberp make a big impact
in this strong market segment.
–– The Carberp code spawns a commercial offspring and/or offerings. This scenario is
more likely. As mentioned previously, Carberp is an extremely sophisticated piece of
malware, boasting bootkit functionality. As a result, it is more likely that the code will
be picked up by a cybercrime gang looking to develop the next big thing in malware.
With the trend towards privatizing malware development operations, the underground
is currently lacking a (true) commercial Trojan; this vacuum may provide the right time
and place for such an offering. Development may continue in closed, private groups,
which develop the software for their own criminal purposes.
There’s never a dull moment in cybercrime and the Carberp code leak only adds fuel to
that fire. The complexity of Carberp makes it less appearling as an “as-is” offering, but
organized professional cybercrime teams may see the opportunity to be the first to finally
offer a new, commercial Trojan based on the Carberp code, in the now very privatized
RSA FraudAction Research Labs continues to investigate and analyze the code and will
publish its findings as those are made.
Phishing Attacks per Month
RSA identified 35,831 phishing attacks
launched worldwide in June, marking a
3% drop in attack volume from May, and a
31% decline year-over-year in comparison
to June 2012.
US Bank Types Attacked
Nationwide banks remained the most
targeted by phishing in June, with 76% of
phishing volume directed at them. Regional
banks saw a 6% decrease in volume while
credit unions witnessed a 3% increase.
10% 11% 11% 9% 9% 12% 6% 15% 8% 17% 15% 8% 11%
78% 74% 74% 77% 77% 79% 79% 70% 69% 60% 73% 73% 76%
Top Countries by Attack Volume
The U.S. remained the country enduring
the highest volume (55%) of phishing
attacks in June – a 5% increase from May.
The UK was the second most targeted at
10% of volume, followed by Canada, South
Africa, India, and the Netherlands.
United Kingdom 10% U.S. 55%
South Africa 5%
49 Other Countries 17%
Top Countries by Attacked Brands
U.S. brands remained the most targeted by
phishing at 25% of volume, followed by
the UK and India. Other countries’ brands
that were targeted heavily by phishing in
June include Australia, Italy, China, Canada
Top Hosting Countries
The U.S. remained the top hosting country
in June, having hosted 45% of global
phishing attacks, followed by Canada
which hosted 9% of attacks. Chile and
Turkey were both introduced as top hosts
for phishing, each hosting 3% of phishing
attacks for the month.
54 Other Countries 23%
United Kingdom 5%
United Kingdom 10%
50 Other Countries 35%