A new banking malware is being sold on several Dark Web markets as a way to grab point-of-sale (POS) data. According to Threatpost, the hot new Floki Bot is based on the Zeus source code.

In many ways, it surpasses its predecessor in terms of scope and severity. Researchers have now observed the bot in action across U.S., Canadian and Brazilian banks and insurance firms. Is the little bot with the funny name the internet’s new financial nightmare?

Life of the POS Party

Cybercriminals targeting POS data isn’t anything new. As noted by SC Magazine, there was a 400 percent uptick in POS malware across the U.S. during Thanksgiving weekend, with both NewPOSthings and the ever-popular ZeusPOS making appearances.

While security teams anticipated a boost in predatory POS behavior from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, researchers from security firm Proofpoint noted that “the spikes were dramatic.” In other words, cybercriminals are now doubling down when it comes to high-traffic shopping days, and why not when there’s simply so much POS data to grab?

Floki Bot is one of the newer variants on the scene. According to security expert Dr. Peter Stephenson, this bot has been gaining ground since September when it started appearing in Dark Web marketplaces. Floki’s author has been talking up its capabilities, claiming it can escape deep packet inspection and read track 2 credit card data. The malware also boasts a 70 percent execution rate over Zeus’ 30 percent clip.

While some of these talking points may be more marketing hype than measurable results, Stephenson did find Floki harder than average to track down during a deep packet inspection. Floki is now being used by at least 10 cybercriminal gangs who can buy it for $1,000 on Alphabay or other Dark Web sites. At its prime, Zeus went for $15,000 and was used by just five cybergangs. Floki Bot may be the new life of the POS party.

Floki Bot Is No Fluke

As noted by Infosecurity Magazine, Floki Bot doesn’t just repurpose the Zeus code leaked back in 2011, but actually makes a number of improvements. For example, the author added hooking methods to grab credit card track data from memory, making it more versatile than most other banking Trojans.

It’s using a combination of targeted spear phishing campaigns and the RIG exploit kit to infect banks and insurance firms across the U.S., Canada and Brazil. That’s a much bolder move than its progenitor, which preferred subtlety and specificity over generalized attacks.

It’s also worth noting that the malware is adaptable and aggressive. Once executed, it attempts to infect explorer.exe. If that fails, it opts for svchost.exe, while simultaneously hashing every stage of its process to obfuscate actions and confound security teams.

Additionally, there’s dormant Tor code in the new bot that appears to be a work in progress since security researchers couldn’t get it to activate. That could make the POS malware even more frustrating if both origin and destination IPs are covered by Tor’s anonymity.

While the name doesn’t exactly inspire fear, this up-and-coming piece of Zeus-inspired malware is proving to be quite the POS problem. It could turn into a nightmare with enough backers and a boost to its latent Tor code.

More from

What to know about new generative AI tools for criminals

3 min read - Large language model (LLM)-based generative AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT took the world by storm this year. ChatGPT became mainstream by making the power of artificial intelligence accessible to millions.The move inspired other companies (which had been working on comparable AI in labs for years) to introduce their own public LLM services, and thousands of tools based on these LLMs have emerged.Unfortunately, malicious hackers moved quickly to exploit these new AI resources, using ChatGPT itself to polish and produce phishing…

The importance of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) when Securing cloud environments

4 min read - According to the 2023 Thales Data Threat Report, 55% of organizations experiencing a data breach have reported “human error” as the primary cause. This is further compounded by organizations now facing attacks from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals with a wide range of automated tools. As organizations move more of their operations to the cloud, they must also become increasingly aware of the security risks and threats that come with it. It’s not enough anymore to simply have a set of…

Data never dies: The immortal battle of data privacy

4 min read - More than two hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin said there is nothing certain but death and taxes. If Franklin were alive today, he would add one more certainty to his list: your digital profile. Between the data compiled and stored by employers, private businesses, government agencies and social media sites, the personal information of nearly every single individual is anywhere and everywhere. When someone dies, that data becomes the responsibility of the estate; but what happens to the privacy rights…

Vulnerability resolution enhanced by integrations

2 min read - Why speed is of the essence in today's cybersecurity landscape? How are you quickly achieving vulnerability resolution? Identifying vulnerabilities should be part of the daily process within an organization. It's an important piece of maintaining an organization’s security posture. However, the complicated nature of modern technologies — and the pace of change — often make vulnerability management a challenging task. In the past, many organizations had to support manual integration work to get different security systems to ‘talk’ to each…