Zeus Trojan - What It Is & How to Prevent it

By Fortra's Digital Defense

Today, there are more people online than ever before, with almost 300 million browsing the Internet in the United States alone.

And while that offers numerous advantages, there are also risks – hackers and cybercriminals are always looking for ways to access people’s personal information and steal their money using malware and trojans.

One of the most malicious and dangerous malware software is the Zeus trojan, which has devastated thousands of people from all over the world.

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The Zeus Trojan Explained

The Zeus trojan, also known as Zbot, is malware software that targets devices that are using the Microsoft Windows operating system.

It is able to get onto devices by generating a trojan horse, which appears as a genuine file to your system, but is actually malware that can grant access to your system for third parties.

First developed in 2007, it has been able to infect countless devices in the U.S. and abroad, and even though the original Zeus trojan hasn’t been as prominent since 2010, there are numerous variations of the malware that are based on its source code, which means that it can still be dangerous and breach your computer if you are not careful.


How Does It Work?

Now that we figured out what is a Zeus trojan, let’s look at how it works.

It uses two main ways to infect your computer with the trojan, both of which can be very effective.

The first method that utilizes spam messages - by sending out thousands or even million spam emails and social media messages, and posting on social media, hackers trick a percentage of the users into clicking on their link, and they are then redirected to a page on a malicious site.

The Zeus trojan is even able to gain access to real people’s email and social media accounts, sending out even more messages that look legitimate.

Another way that the Zeus trojan could get on your computer is when you download files from the Internet.

Even if you’re downloading from a legitimate and trustworthy website, there is a small chance that the files could be infected with the trojan because Zbot can infect as well websites and insert its code.


What Does the Zeus Trojan Do to Computers?

Once the Zeus trojan gets into your system, it joins a Zeus botnet via your device and can steal information and also use your device or phishing and other activities online, without you even knowing.

Using key-logging and website monitoring, the Zeus botnets can detect when you enter sensitive information such as banking details or passwords and then use that information to steal your money.

Today, there are even Zeus trojan versions that are designed to attack mobile devices, which try to gain access to two-factor authentication and break through even more enhanced security measures that are used by the more tech-savvy users.

You may not even know that your device is infected before it’s too late, and it may serve as a tool for the hackers to trick others for months or even years.


Who does the Zeus Trojan Target?

As we briefly mentioned in the beginning, the Zeus trojan is primarily designed to target devices that run on the Windows operating system, so if you have a PC laptop or desktop computer, you are at most risk from getting it on your system.

Since its creation, the trojan has infected more than 3.6 million computers in the United States alone, and the trojan has been able to remain prevalent even with the ever-improving security systems that are in place.

And don’t think that it’s only a danger to people who don’t know how to protect their computers.

The trojan has not only breached millions of computers of everyday users, but also managed to get into the systems of huge organizations such as Amazon, Bank of America, and even NASA.


Preventing the Zeus Trojan

Even though Zeus malware and countless other threats are breaching thousands of devices every day, it’s not impossible to keep yourself and your business protected.

There are professional-grade solutions that can safeguard your devices and your data from outside threats and ensure that you can access your financial and business data without risk of it falling into the wrong hands.

Zeus trojan  aside, Vulnerability Management can be a daunting task. Digital Defense’s Fortra Vulnerability Management  (Formerly Fortra VM) makes it simple by putting innovation at your fingertips. Leverage the power of a next generation security assessment system, underpinned by patented scanning technology and coupled with certified and knowledgeable security analysts and industry leading support staff to ensure your organization never has to navigate the security and compliance maze alone.

About the Author

Our Vulnerability Research Team consists of credentialed (Security+, Network+, CISSP) cybersecurity experts with decades of combined experience in research, analysis, and the discovery of unknown vulnerabilities. 

Protect Against Trojans with Offensive Cybersecurity Solutions

There isn't a singular solution for trojan attacks.  The strongest cybersecurity comes from having a layered solution portfolio.

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