Cyber gangs fight turf war

A gangland cyber war has broken out with two botnets, probably Russian, slugging it out between them.

The smaller Spy Eye toolkit decided to take on its much-larger rival Zeus by stealing data and then removing the malicious program from infected computers.

The feature, called “Kill Zeus,” apparently removes the Zeus software from the victim’s PC, giving Spy Eye exclusive access to usernames and passwords it might have collected.

Trojans such as Zeus and Spy Eye steal online banking info which is used to empty bank accounts by transferring funds to so-called money mules, US residents with bank accounts, who then shift the cash out of the country.

A number of similar Trojans have emerged recently, including Filon, Clod and [Bugat], which was discovered just last month.

Symantec Senior Research Manager Ben Greenbaum said that Spy Eye popped up in Russian cybercrime forums in December and with its “Kill Zeus” option, Spy Eye is the most aggressive crimeware.

This is not the first time that there has been a cyberspace turf wars. A couple of years ago there was a program called Storm Worm began attacking servers controlled by a rival known as Srizbi.

Spy Eye sells for about $500 on the black market, about one-fifth the price of premium versions of Zeus. It has not appeared on many PCs yet and is not considered a big threat.