Floki Bot, new financial malware, is popular with English-, Portuguese-, and Russian-speaking underground criminal markets, winning over cybercriminals with new features and functionality. It is currently in use by a number of cybercrime groups around the world and is sold on the dark market for about US$1,000, according to Flashpoint and Cisco Talos.
Floki Bot is a great example of the evolutionary release-reuse tactics of hackers. Based upon the venerable Zeus Trojan Version 188.8.131.52, which was released many years ago, this new bot variant sports many technologies to bypass detection and eradication by security tools. It has an updated engine to avoid Deep Packet Inspection, a cybersecurity method used to detect malicious software; and the extensibility to use The Onion Router (TOR) network for masking network traffic sources. Floki Bot uses a number of obfuscation techniques to hide its sensitive code. The bot also sports advanced methods to capture data from one of its primary targets, point-of-sale devices. Overall, the malware keeps many Zeus tricks while adding upgrades to stay current with the latest security controls and tactics.
Based upon communication traffic analysis, it appears that several parties, possibly with different languages, might have contributed to the creation of this malware. As hackers do often collaborate, the result brings together a capable new malware to the stage. This cooperation is becoming more common, with various experts working together to develop the next generation of malware.
In some cases, the sharing is not intentional. There are several examples of nation-states that have conducted cyberattacks as other parties intercepted their well-developed code, only to reverse engineer it and use the parts they found interesting in their own projects. This is the way of next-generation malware authors. They do not need to know everything themselves; they can leverage a community for assistance and reuse the best parts of other code for maximum effect.
Protections must adapt
If Floki Bot is any indication of the evolution of malware, we should expect faster cycles of release for more virulent code and methods. Teamwork will increase as groups work together to monetize efforts and fleece victims in more efficient and creative ways. The cybersecurity industry is fighting not only the malicious technology, but also the people who are innovating and collaborating to undermine our security and privacy.