Mud against Anonymous using Zeus malware

Pierluigi Paganini March 06, 2012

Symantec company recently has disclosed the news that the collective Anonymous has deceived his supporters favoring the spread and installing of Zeus malware on their machines. The charge is heavy and would undermine the trust that underpins the recruitment methods of the collective, it seems that all supporters who have participated to various Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks may have installed unknowingly a variant of Zeus malware used to gather information like e-mail and banking information.

How can this happened? In a very simple, some hackers have exploited the notoriety of the collective disseminating an infected version of the tools used in the attacks, in this case the tool Slowloris, using standard channels as Pastbin. The hackers have copied and pasted an original Anonymous Pastebin entry replacing the download link with an infected version. In this way the agent diffusion was extremely rapid.

Events dating on January 19, 2012, when authorities stopped Megaupload services, and Anonymous hackers have conducted several DDoS attacks retaliated by taking down DOJ, RIAA, MPAA, Universal Music websites, among others.  During the attacks Anonymous released a list of several different DDoS attack tools that supporters have downloaded.

Remember that in the past weeks I had anticipated the possibility that someone could use the name Anonymous in other operations, from cybercrime to intelligence operations made by hostile governments, that is why I defined Anonymous a cyber weapon.
The reputation of the group may paradoxically create many problems to the group itself, the audience to which the collective targets is not in fact capable of distinguishing false messages, and infiltration attempts that are occurring and will occur with increasing frequency.
My opinion is that Anonymous is completely outside to the events, I still unclear the direction of these attacks to the group. It could be a mud machine set up to discredit the group, or the operation made by unscrupulous criminals who try to benefit from favorable situation to spread of malware useful for realization of fraud. Third hypothesis is anything but fiction that one foreign government is exploiting the emotional involvement in the collective to collect an impressive amount of information on participants in operations.

The choice of the Zeus malware is in my opinion another indication of the possibility that someone is trying to hide its tracks by attacking the group of hacktivist. Zeus is in fact a trojan which first appeared in 2007 and several different instances have been observed during this years. A real parallel market has in fact set up a criminal industry that can customize the agent on demand with components developed and commissioned for any specific purpose.  Zeus is used to steal banking information via two methods, man-in-the-browser and keystroke logging form grabbing.

Once installed and executed, the infected version of Slowloris uses the Zeus botnet client to send stolen information to the C&C server. During the transfer the boot master order to the infected machine to continue to perform the attacks against Anonymous’s target ensuring that the victim will not notice the fraud.

Security firm Symantec has the details:

An attacker took a popular PasteBin guide, used by Anonymous members for downloading and using the DoS tool Slowloris, and modified it. In this modified version, the attacker changed the download link to a Trojanized version of the Slowloris tool with matching text. Later that same day, a separate Anonymous DoS guide was posted on PasteBin which included links to various DoS tools. Slowloris was included in this list of tools—the Trojanized version copied from the modified guide.

The anonymous group immediately dismissed all charges through the major social networks like Twitter, following a collection of the principal messages.

YourAnonNews, which has 547,000 followers, had a very negative reaction:

This post from @Symantec about @YourAnonNews’s spreading the DDOS hijacking trojan is wrong & libelous to say the least
Dear @Symantec – @YourAnonNews NEVER posted the DDOS hijacker nor did we attempt to trick people; instead we WARNED of it.
Also, @Symantec – maybe if you paid attention to more details and did proper due diligence, your source code wouldn’t have been stolen. SMH

AnonymousIRC, which has 277,000 followers simply warned its followers: | #Anonymous supporters tricked into installing Zeus trojan | This MUSTN’T happen. Be careful what you post & click on!

AnonOps, which has 297,000 followers, did not tweet anything about the report. It did, however, retweet this message from our sister site CNET:

Did Anonymous itself get “hacked”? Symantec says yes. But Anonymous begs to differ.

GroupAnon, which has 72,000 followers, did not react to the news at all.

It seems to me that someone is pursuing a different strategy to counter the Anonymous group questioning his actions before the masses. You are trying to portray the group as ruthless criminals ready to sacrifice the masses from which she draws strength regardless of the consequences. As repeatedly stressed the group can not be countered with arrests and other operations of oppression, but must be fought with intelligence and infiltration operations that lead to mutual distrust affiliates and supporters. Undermine the nucleus, to induce suspicion in the policies pursued and the methods used.
Divide and conquer.

Pierluigi Paganini

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