ZeuS Malware – 3 Protection Strategies Against it

Malware is an ever-persistent threat to digital systems worldwide. Learning about malware and how it can disrupt the normal functioning of your device or cause significant damage to business operations can give you a fighting chance. In the world of malware, ZeuS is a recurring name. But what is ZeuS malware? That’s what we’ll explain to you.

Zeus Malware

How Does Malware Work?

Malware is any malicious software designed to alter the normal functioning of a device. It is bad code that is intended to cause harm to a system.

Although “virus” is the common term used to describe any malicious computer program, a virus is just a type of malware. Malware is the umbrella term that stands for malicious software. It encompasses malicious programs such as a virus, trojan, worm, ransomware, and more.

Malware attacks a system then follows its programming to infect the system. Some malware work discretely and without notice; others are less concerned about stealth.

What is ZeuS Malware?

ZeuS malware takes name after the Greek god of thunder and the king of Olympus. It made its presence known to the world back in 2007 and has since then been one of the successful malware that managed to become a widespread problem and continues to cause trouble in new forms to this day.

ZeuS (also known as ZBOT) is a trojan that infects a system and creates a botnet. It’s designed to steal credentials from the victim’s computer through keylogging.

A trojan is a malicious program that masquerades as a legitimate program. The concept is based on the method Greeks used during the Trojan War to enter the city of Troy. Like the wooden trojan horse from history, a computer trojan hides behind a legitimate program to trick the user into downloading and executing it.

Computers infected with the ZeuS malware will create a botnet of infected computers. A botnet is simply a network of computers that have been infected by the same malware. Such malware can be used to create a large network to deliver malicious attacks like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack or send out phishing emails.

What Does the ZeuS Malware Do?

ZeuS infiltrates through phishing attempts or drive-by downloads. Phishing is one of the ways malicious attackers target users to spread malware. It is a fraudulent technique designed to trick a user into carrying out certain actions.

The malware could arrive in your inbox through an email attachment that appears to be from a legitimate user. The attachment carrying the ZeuS malware would infect the system once you allow it access. In another way, ZeuS has been distributed through hijacked web pages that automatically download the ZeuS package as soon as the visitor opens the page.

It carries keylogging capability, which is meant to stealusers’ login credentials. ZeuS malware actively monitors the HTTP and HTTPS activity of the user. It activates itself when the user opens a particular financial website or a social networking website.

ZeuS also creates a backdoor for the attacker; it connects the infected system to a command & control (C&C) server. Stolen credentials from the malware are sent to the C&C, and it also allows the attacker to push new commands to all infected systems in the botnet. It means that new stealth methods can be pushed out remotely to avoid detection and stay undetected by new antivirus updates.

ZeuS Is Still A Threat

ZeuS has caused millions of dollars in damages to users and businesses worldwide. It was created by a Russian hacker that eventually retired, but not before the source code of ZeuS leaked to the public.

Source code would allow an attacker to take the program and modify it. It’s the reason why ZeuS continues to live on to this day in one form or the other, thanks to all the variants that have spawned as a result of the leak.

Where Does the Stolen Data Go?

ZeuS is a crimeware, which means it’s available for purchase by anyone looking to make a profit by stealing credentials. The malware sells for between $3000 to $4000 in the criminal underground. So, anyone willing to pay such an amount will recoup the money spent by hijacking user accounts using stolen credentials.

Stolen credentials from malware such as ZeuS and data breaches go on sale to the highest bidder on the Dark Web.

The Dark Web is a section of the internet separate from what we know and call the Surface Web. It’s hosted on the Tor (The Onion Routing) network and accessed only through the Tor browser. Its anonymity aspect gives criminals the freedom to build marketplaces where such malicious programs and stolen data can be sold and bought.

We have encouraged using password managers in the past because it allows users to set up complex passwords without requiring them to remember them all. The best password managers also come with a feature known as Dark Web monitoring. The feature actively monitors the Dark Web for any stolen credentials that are in your vault then alerts you. It’s a very useful feature to have.

How to Protect Against ZeuS Malware

ZeuS primarily targeted Windows-based systems but has since made its appearance on mobile operating systems. And considering that new variants like Gameover ZeuS are a persistent threat, you need to update your security practices to defend against such attacks.

  • Install An Antivirus

There is no substitute for an antivirus. It is the defense that will root out malware like ZeuS and keep up to date on the latest threats. It is important to invest in an antivirus that has robust capabilities such as rootkit detection and fileless malware detection.

  • Keep Software Updated

As vulnerabilities in software are exposed, patches are rolled out to fix the problem. It is critical to the security of your device and applications that you download the latest updates and firmware.

  • Use VPN On Wi-Fi

It’s easy for hackers to create a rogue Wi-Fi network and lure unsuspecting users into connecting to it. Once connected, the hacker can control and manipulate internet traffic by redirecting traffic to a malicious login page. It is one of the ways a hacker can steal your credentials.

VPN encrypts your internet traffic. So even when you are connected to the rogue Wi-Fi, the hacker cannot mess with your DNS queries because they are encrypted.


ZeuS is just one of the many malware that left its mark on the cyberworld. You can check out our blog on the most destructive malware of all time.

Staying one step ahead of cyber threats is key to protecting personal data from theft or damage. Just as an antivirus fortifies your device, a VPN builds a layer of protection around your data through encryption.

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