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June 25, 2014

The Luuuk Banking Fraud Campaign: Half a Million Euros Stolen in a Single Week

The Luuuk Banking Fraud Campaign: Half a Million Euros Stolen in a Single Week

Man-in-the-Browser Attack Used to Target Clients of a Large European Bank

Woburn, MA – June 25, 2014 -Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team experts have discovered evidence of a targeted attack against the clients of a large European bank. The organizers of the bank fraud Luuuk used a Man-in-the-Browser (MITB) campaign to steal more than half a million Euros from accounts at the bank, according to the logs of the server used by the attackers.

The first signs of this campaign were discovered on January 20, 2014, when Kaspersky Lab detected a command and control (C&C) server on the net. The server’s control panel indicated evidence of a Trojan program used to steal money from clients’ bank accounts. Also detected, were transaction logs on the server, containing information about which sums of money were taken from which accounts. All in all, more than 190 victims could be identified, most of them located in Italy and Turkey. The sums stolen from each bank account, according to the logs, ranged between 1,700 to 39,000 € (about $2,310 to $53,000 US Dollars).

The campaign was at least one week old when the C&C was discovered, having started no later than January 13, 2014. In that time, the cybercriminals successfully stole more than 500,000 € (about $680,000 US Dollars). Two days after Kaspersky Lab discovered the C&C server, the criminals removed all evidence that might be used to trace them. However, based on the transaction activity, Kaspersky Lab believes it could be a technical infrastructure change rather than a complete ending to the Luuuk campaign.

“Soon after we detected this C&C server, we contacted the bank’s security service and the law enforcement agencies, and submitted all our evidence to them,” said Vicente Diaz, principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

Malicious tools used

With the Luuuk case, experts have grounds to believe that important financial data was intercepted automatically and fraudulent transactions were carried out as soon as the victim logged onto their online bank accounts. 

“On the C&C server we detected there was no information as to which specific malware program was used in this campaign. However, many existing Zeus variations (Citadel, SpyEye, IceIX, etc.) – have that necessary capability. We believe the malware used in this campaign could be a Zeus flavor using sophisticated web injects on the victims,” added Vicente Diaz.

Money divestment schemes

The stolen money was passed on to the cybercriminals’ accounts in an unusual way. Kaspersky Lab noticed that participants in the scam receive some of the stolen money in specially created bank accounts and cash out via ATMs. There were evidences of several different ‘drop’ groups, each assigned with different sums of money. One group was responsible for transferring sums of 40-50,000 €, another with 15-20,000 and the third with no more than 2,000 €.

“These differences in the amount of money entrusted to different drops may be indicative of varying levels of trust for each ‘drop’ type. We know that members of these schemes often cheat their partners in crime and abscond with the money they were supposed to cash. The Luuuk’s bosses may be trying to hedge against these losses by setting up different groups with different levels of trust: the more money a ‘drop’ is asked to handle, the more he is trusted,” added Vicente Diaz.

The C&C server related to Luuuk was shut down shortly after the investigation started. However, the complexity level of the MITB operation suggests that the attackers will continue to look for new victims of this campaign. Kaspersky Lab’s experts are engaged in an on-going investigation in the Luuuk’s activities.

Kaspersky Fraud Prevention

The evidence uncovered by Kaspersky Lab’s experts indicates that the campaign was likely organized by professional criminals. However, the malicious tools they used to steal money can be countered effectively by security technologies. For instance, Kaspersky Lab has developed Kaspersky Fraud Prevention – a multi-tier platform to help financial organizations protect their clients from online financial fraud. The platform includes components that safeguard client devices from many types of attacks, including Man-in-the-Browser attacks, as well as tools that can help companies detect and block fraudulent transactions.

About Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab is the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions. The company is ranked among the world’s top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users*. Throughout its more than 16-year history Kaspersky Lab has remained an innovator in IT security and provides effective digital security solutions for large enterprises, SMBs and consumers. Kaspersky Lab, with its holding company registered in the United Kingdom, currently operates in almost 200 countries and territories across the globe, providing protection for over 300 million users worldwide. Learn more at www.kaspersky.com.

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Media Contact
Sarah Bergeron 

* The company was rated fourth in the IDC rating Worldwide Endpoint Security Revenue by Vendor, 2012. The rating was published in the IDC report "Worldwide Endpoint Security 2013–2017 Forecast and 2012 Vendor Shares (IDC #242618, August 2013). The report ranked software vendors according to earnings from sales of endpoint security solutions in 2012.

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