Microsoft Acknowledges Threat of ZLoader Criminal Botnet

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • Apr 15, 2022

A ZLoader botnet has been wreaking havoc across the world. Microsoft recently highlighted the botnet’s global operation to halt its progress.

How is the Botnet Used?

The botnet consists of 65+ web domains created to communicate with and control hosts that were infected. The aim of the botnet is to steal and sell valuable information.   

What Type of Action did Microsoft Take to Stop the Botnet?

Microsoft is working together with a group of cybersecurity specialists to take down the Zloader botnet. The tech giant and its digital security partners have made technical and legal advances to disrupt the threat. The team of cybersecurity specialists obtained control over the domains used to interact with infected hosts.

What Does ZLoader Mean?

The details of ZLoader were recently publicized by a manager at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes unit named Amy Hogan-Burney. ZLoader is a reference to a network of computers and other computing devices at companies, individual homes, academic institutions, hospitals, and additional medical facilities throughout the world.  

ZLoader is operated by a worldwide web-based criminal gang that uses malware as a service. The malware steals sensitive information and uses it in an extortion scheme.

Which Tech Security Specialists Partnered with Microsoft to Take Down the Threat?

Some of the cybersecurity industry’s top names worked with Microsoft to proactively thwart the botnet. Those companies include Avast, ESET, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, Lumen Black Lotus Labs, and Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

What, Exactly, did Microsoft’s Disruption Do?

Microsoft’s disruption of the botnet redirected the domains, ultimately preventing the criminals responsible for the botnet from communicating with the targeted devices. Furthermore, the disruption created more than 300 additional backup web domains through a specialized algorithm that was removed as a component of the operation.

When did the ZLoader Botnet Begin?

Digital forensics professionals insist the ZLoader botnet is a spinoff of the Zeus banking trojan that debuted in the fall of 2019. ZLoader has since been modified with alterations that have empowered digital miscreants to obtain the malware from the internet and use it for nefarious purposes. 

Part of ZLoader’s appeal up until Microsoft’s recent disruption was its ability to evade digital defenses. In fact, ZLoader was advanced to the point that it could disable some antivirus protection by implementing harmful code into the target computer’s processes.  

ZLoader provided hackers with remote access to computers, stole targets’ banking data, and even stole user credentials. In fact, ZLoader was advanced to the point that it could collect cookies and capture screenshots of the compromised computers.

In What Ways Did ZLoader Attack From 2019 to 2022?

The digital criminals behind ZLoader enhanced the attack from its original form as a financial trojan into a complex malware-as-a-service that generated revenue through sales to other hackers. The ZLoader originators sold access to ZLoader to other cybercriminals who used it to transmit ransomware and Cobalt Strike payloads.  

Recent ZLoader campaigns have used ads on Google to infiltrate target computers, transmitted phishing emails, and used remote management software to compromise machines. It is particularly interesting to note that the digital forensics specialists who analyzed the malware’s activities dating back to the winter of 2020 found most of the attacks stem from a couple of affiliates.

About the Author
IDStrong Logo

Related Articles

Instagram Vulnerability Allowed Hackers Access to Control Your Phone

Security experts Check Point Research discovered a critical vulnerability while examining Instagra ... Read More

Alien Malware Infects More than 226 Mobile Apps and Steals Bank Data

As reported on September 24, 2020, by ZDNet and ThreatPost, a new strain of malware named “Alien ... Read More

Universal Health Systems Hit by Ransomware Attack

Universal Health Systems (UHS), a Fortune 500 company owning more than 400 hospitals across the co ... Read More

Exchange Server Bug Exposes a Big Risk to Hackers

Months after Microsoft released a patch to fix a serious flaw in MS Exchange Server, more than 61% ... Read More

Clients’ Bank Data Exposed in Blackbaud Ransomware Attack

Blackbaud software was victim to a ransomware attack last May, and new information suggests that c ... Read More

Latest Articles

Flagstar Bank Breach Impacts More Than a Million Customers

Flagstar Bank Breach Impacts More Than a Million Customers

Flagstar Bank is in the news for the wrong reason. The bank recently publicized the fact that it discovered a digital breach.

Weekly Recap June 24 2022

Weekly Recap June 24 2022

We are nearly halfway through 2022. News stories detailing hacks and other digital breaches continue to roll in on a daily basis.

Cybercrime Related to Travel Soars at the Year’s Halfway Point

Cybercrime Related to Travel Soars at the Year’s Halfway Point

There has been a significant spike in tourism following the gradual decline of the coronavirus pandemic.  The increase in travel has caught the attention of digital miscreants looking to scam tourists as well as travel services providers.

Featured Articles

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Buying your own home is the American Dream, but it might seem out of reach to those with bad credit. However, the good news is, if your credit is less than perfect, you do still have options and in most cases, can still buy a home.

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

How Secure Is Your Password? Tips to Improve Your Password Security

Any good IT article on computers and network security will address the importance of strong, secure passwords. However, the challenge of good passwords is that most people have a hard time remembering them, so they use simple or obvious ones that pose a security risk.

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Top 10 Senior Scams and How to Prevent Them

Senior scams are becoming a major epidemic for two reasons. First, seniors often have a lot of money in the bank from a life of working hard and saving.