This blog post was authored by Edmund Brumaghin, Earl Carter and Emmanuel Tacheau.
It has become common for users to use Google to find information that they do not know. In a quick Google search you can find practically anything you need to know. Links returned by a Google search, however, are not guaranteed to be safe. In this situation, the threat actors decided to take advantage of this behavior by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make their malicious links more prevalent in the search results, enabling them to target users with the Zeus Panda banking Trojan. By poisoning the search results for specific banking related keywords, the attackers were able to effectively target specific users in a novel fashion.
By targeting primarily financial-related keyword searches and ensuring that their malicious results are displayed, the attacker can attempt to maximize the conversion rate of their infections as they can be confident that infected users will be regularly using various financial platforms and thus will enable the attacker to quickly obtain credentials, banking and credit card information, etc. The overall configuration and operation of the infrastructure used to distribute this malware was interesting as it did not rely on distribution methods that Talos regularly sees being used for the distribution of malware. This is another example of how attackers regularly refine and change their techniques and illustrates why ongoing consumption of threat intelligence is essential for ensuring that organizations remain protected against new threats over time.
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