A segment from last night’s Rock Center, Brian Williams’ TV news magazine, gives the inside scoop on how a college professor and his students helped law enforcement crack one of the largest and most profitable banking Trojan operations around.
Reporter Richard Engel sat down with Gary Warner, a computer forensics professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to discuss how he and his students launched an investigation that helped identify the complex Zeus network and the equally complex network of money mules that helped launder tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits. Warner and the students’ work helped lead to the eventual take down by the F.B.I. in September 2010.
In the piece, Warner talks about the sophistication of the Zeus platform and of its creators, a group of Ukranian hackers. The group was able to steal $70 million in cash, in part, by shipping European money mules off to America, complete with fake passports and forged visas.
Long a part of the banking Trojan scene, the Zeus Trojan gained popularity after its source code was leaked in May; the malware later linked up with Spyeye and was found spreading via Android phones, Facebook and even Windows Autorun at one point to further its infections.