The Zeus virus is a malicious malware program that was first detected in 2007. Since then, it has enabled hackers to generate Trojan horses to commit a wide variety of cybercrimes. One of the reasons that Zeus is so elusive is that it accesses computers through items on the Internet that seem to be legitimate. Even sophisticated users may have no idea that they are installing damaging malware.
One reason that the Zeus Virus is so dangerous is that non-programmers can easily use it by purchasing it on the black market, often for as little as $3,000. The Zeus Trojan can gain access to accounts through keystroke logging and through the installation of CryptoLockerransomware. Fortunately, by taking certain precautions, you can reduce your chances of getting infected with the virus.
What Is the Zeus Virus?
The Zeus Virus is an example of a Trojan horse malware package originally developed to steal banking information. The malware is able to identify when the user is on a banking site and gains access through form grabbing and man-in-the-browser keystroke logging.
While the virus originally only ran on Windows OS, it has been refined to affect devices running on Android, Symbian and Blackberry. When the source code of Zeus was made public, it paved the way for new variations of the Zeus Virus Trojan to be created.
Variants of the virus have been used to steal private information from organizations, such as:
How Are Computers Infected with the Zeus Virus?
There are several ways that your computer and other systems throughout the world can be infected with the virus. However, it is pimarily transferred by two methods: drive-by-downloads and spam messages.
What Is a Drive-by-Download?
A drive-by-download works like this. Suppose you go to a website that appears to be legitimate and has extensive information that seems accurate. It is a website that you trust. Malware creators insert the Zeus virus code into this site. When you enter the site, whether you realize it or not, the code is installed on your computer.
How Is the Virus Transferred Through Spam Messages?
The virus is transmitted by methods such as phishing and social media campaigns. The emails appear to be genuine, but when opened, they redirect you to a malicious website. Zeus is strategically created to get access to your social media and email logins. It contains a botnet that will then send spam from a variety of genuine sources. Because these sources appear legitimate, this dramatically increases the scope and number of those who are affected.
Signs You Have the Zeus Virus
Ironically, one of the first signs that you have the virus may be a warning that you have a virus. This is a tactic called “scareware.” When you are working on your computer, you’ll see a pop-up message warning you that your computer is in trouble. The message may say that your computer has been infected with a virus, has corrupted or illegal files, or has been the victim of a security breach.
These pop-up messages proclaim that you need anti-virus software. Often, this “anti-virus software” is nothing more than a doorway for the Zeus Virus to gain access to your files, placing you at risk of identity theft.
While there are variations on this theme, it typically takes a certain form. You’ll get an alert that your computer has been infected with a serious virus. There may also be graphics that illustrate a real-time, anti-virus scan of your hard drive. The pop-up looks convincing and may even show logos of reputable software companies.
The first clue that something is not right is that you can’t click links to go to the legitimate sites. In addition, the pop up can’t be deleted by clicking on the “x” button. In many cases, the pop-up has an “OK” button or another link.
If you do click on these links in the pop-up, you will most likely be taken to a payment form so you can purchase this fake virus protection. If you download information from one of these pop-ups, you can easily get not only Zeus, but a wide range of devastating viruses that will record your passwords and other sensitive privacy data.
There is another variation in which you are warned that there is a security breach and you need to call an 800 number in order to speak to someone who will help you uninstall the virus or help you purchase virus protection. In some cases, the person on the other end of your phone may want remote access to your computer. If you agree, this will simply pave the way for malware to be installed.
In another version of this scheme, you’ll receive a notification that you need files to “improve computer function” or that “illegal pornography” has been found on your computer. Other scareware claims include warnings that your system is out of date, that you need to run a security scan, that you need to download new software for your system, or you need to clean your registry. Be aware that many of these scareware schemes can appear to be legitimate, and even seasoned users have been tricked.
What Should I Do When a Scareware Pop-up Appears?
If you’ve received one of these warnings and you’re suspicious that you’re about to be the victim of scareware, the FTC recommends that you immediately shut down your browser. Don’t click anything in the pop-up screen, even the word “Cancel” or “No.” Often, malicious software can download if you only click anywhere within in the ad, regardless of what the button or link says.
For Windows, you should, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open your Task Manager and click “End Task.”
Mac users should press Command + Option + Q + Esc to “Force Quit.”
How to Remove the Zeus Virus
The Zeus Virus is a sophisticated piece of malware. Therefore, it takes several lengthy steps to ensure that your computer has gotten rid of it. We’ll take you step-by-step through this process.
First, Use the RKill Program to Stop Any Zeus Activity
It’s essential to stop any of the processes that are going on with the Zeus infection. If not, you won’t be able to perform the next steps. Therefore, your first order of business is to stop Zeus in its tracks, along with any other suspicious processes that may be associated with the virus.
It’s important to realize that this utility only stops the process; it doesn’t delete any of the files. You should not reboot your computer after you run it. If you do, the damaging programs will continue.
After you download Rkill, simply double click on the icon to stop the malicious program running. Wait for the scan to finish.
Second, Use an Anti-malware Program to Remove the Virus
We recommend Malwarebytes, which is one of the most widely used anti-malware software tools for windows. It’s a free program and is a very important tool in your fight against computer viruses. Malwarebytes comes with a free 14-day trial of its premium addition that offers expanded tools such as ransomware protection and real-time scanning.
Download Malwarebytes. If prompted, indicate that you want Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. Run the setup wizard, and then click “Scan Now” once Malwarebytes has been installed.
Third, Use HitmanPro to Scan for the Zeus Virus
One of the advantages of HitmanPro is that it scans not only active files, but also examines files in locations “behind the scenes” where most malware lurks. HitmanPro is shareware and costs $24.95 for one year for use on one computer. Simply download HitmanPro and follow the prompts.
Initiate the scan and then wait for it to complete. When completed, it will list all the malware programs that were found on your device. Click “Next” to remove these programs. Don’t forget to click on the “activate free license” prompt. This will begin your free 30-day trial.
Fourth, Use Zemana AntiMalware
This free on-demand antivirus scanner detects and removes malware that even other sophisticated anti-malware programs fail to find. Download Zemana AntiMalware and follow the prompts. You can install it for free.
During the setup process, when you reach the “Selected Additional Tasks” screen, opt-out the “Enable Real Time Protection Button.” Once you complete the install process, scan your computer. When the scan is completed, Zemana will show you the malicious files that were discovered. Click “Next” to eliminate them from your computer.
The Zeus Virus is a piece of malware that gains access to your computer to steal banking information and other privacy data. It’s often obtained by drive-by-downloading and spam messaging such as phishing. One of the signs that your computer is infected is a series of fake warnings called scareware. Scareware prompts you to download a fake program to remove a virus from your computer. When you do this, you are actually downloading the very virus you are trying to avoid. Because of its sophisticated nature, removing the Zeus virus can be a time-consuming process, but it is absolutely essential in order to ensure the safety of your private information.