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The Zeus Virus: What It Is and How to Prevent and Remove it

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Protect your PC from a nasty threat – The Zeus Virus

Did you mistakenly click on a suspicious link or download a file that you shouldn’t have opened? They’re both prime ways of catching a nasty virus on your computer. One particularly nasty Trojan is the Zeus malware virus or the The Zeus Virus.The Zeus Virus

The main variant of Zeus only infects Windows-based PCs, although there is a new variety that also affects Android-based smartphones.

What Is The Zeus Virus?

The Zeus Virus is designed to steal confidential information from your computer. It attempts to gather banking information or financial details such as account numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers.

Zeus Virus is a Trojan malware package that particularly targets Microsoft Windows. Trojan types of malware mislead users of its true intent, much like its namesake horse. Zeus made a king’s entry in 2007  attacking both top corporate houses and US government institutions with one swoop.

Since then, it has become one of the most damaging botnets in the world, thus popularizing the Zbot moniker. Amongst its notable attacks was a $70 million heist from hacked bank accounts causing the FBI to intervene. Even more worrisome is that it has reproduced hundreds of mal-variants that are based on its code. Even though cybersecurity experts heaved a sigh of relief when its creator purportedly “retired,” the Zeus malware mafia lives on.

Like any virus, the longer it sticks around, the worse the damage can be.

How Does Zeus Work?

Zeus is referred to as malware as well as a Trojan. A Trojan is effectively a malicious piece of software that you may have inadvertently downloaded, thinking you were downloading something safe.

Zeus’ main vectors are mail spam, malicious social engineering and by inserting itself into legitimate product downloads, also known as drive-by downloads.

Once in the victim’s machine, Zeus Virus creates a hidden “backdoor” on the computer. Backdoor malware is especially dangerous as it allows the attacker to have full access and complete control over the machine, and consequently an entry-point into the company’s network. Zeus then proceeds to steal the victim’s data including personal details, application logins, and banking information. Or, its avatar Zbot inducts infected machines into a botnet — a network of other compromised machines controlled by a master hacker. This can lead to devastating wide-scale attacks that infect the entire network of the organization.

The purpose of such software is to extort or steal money from you through nefarious means. Unlike viruses, they’re not designed to spread to other computers, but to steal from the direct source. They can also download other malware and viruses, making your problems worse.

In some cases, Zeus can download ransomware that encrypts your files and demands money in exchange for unlocking them.

It’s important that you delete the threat as soon as possible so that the problem doesn’t get worse.

How Do I Know I Have The Zeus Virus?

Typically, Zeus overwhelms your computer by installing new malicious programs in the background. This leads to numerous crashes and the Blue Screen of Death.

It can also lead to an increased number of pop-up ads and sponsored links which may interrupt your browsing. Your firewall may also stop running for no obvious reason.

Zeus on Android smartphones causes similar disruption.

It’s often hard to know exactly which virus or Trojan you’re afflicted with, which is why it’s important to run regular antivirus software scans or use malware detection software.

How Did I Get the Zeus Virus?

There are many ways you could have gotten the Zeus Trojan. Here’s a look at some of the most common ways.

  • Downloading a program or app from an unreliable source such as the dark web or torrent files.
  • Downloading free software from an unfamiliar website.
  • Clicking an infected link in a phishing email.
  • Clicking website pop-up ads.

How Do I Get Rid of the Zeus Virus?The Zeus Virus

The simplest way to get rid of Zeus malware is to use antivirus software as well as a malware removal tool.

Your antivirus software can take several hours to complete the process, depending on your computer, but it will typically offer you options on how best to remove the malicious files.

Malware (also known as spyware) can also be deleted via a malware removal tool. There are many different software tools out there but each have the same goal — making it easy to detect malware and delete it before it causes you trouble.

Much like antivirus software, the malware scanning process can take several hours depending on the size of your PC’s hard drive.

You can also use System Restore to return to an earlier point on your system before you were infected with the virus. Make sure you pick a time when you know you didn’t have the virus on your PC.

As a last resort, you can also reformat and reinstall your computer. It’s the best guarantee that you’ve completely deleted the infected files, but it can take a long time to do and requires a certain amount of knowledge when it comes to knowing how to get your computer set up correctly.

If you decide to completely wipe and reinstall your operating system, any files that are not backed up will be lost. This is a Catch-22 problem, however, because backup files may already be infected with the Trojan and could re-infect your system when you restore the backup.

Tips to protect your organization from Zeus Malware

  • Strengthen Authentication: Most malware attacks are the result of compromised and weak credentials. Two-Factor Authentication or Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) are excellent gate-keepers, that prevent unauthorized access of applications. Make sure all your applications, including third-party ones, support and implement it.
  • Create Anti-Phishing Policies – Office 365 includes built-in features that protect your users from phishing attacks. Take advantage of the threat management tools in Office 365 to set up anti-phishing policies and increase your protection status. You can even create custom policies for specific users, groups, or domains.
  • Cybersecurity TrainingPhishing and social engineering are Zeus’ key vectors, as is the case with most types of malware. Hence, an essential malware prevention best practice is to conduct regular org-wide cybersecurity training. Educate colleagues about the basics of good security hygiene, such as checking the sender’s email ID, and avoiding downloading attachments or clicking URLs from unknown sources and alerting support about emails with suspicious content.
  • The Usual Protectors: Check that your anti-virus solutions are auto-updated, and that you have robust firewalls and network monitoring tools in place.

Malware attacks are on the rise. Ensure that your business, colleagues or customers are not held ransom to them, by backing up your data securely. Spanning Backup provides top-rated SaaS backup and recovery solutions for Office 365, Google Workspace, and Salesforce. With Spanning’s accurate, real-time data backup that you can drastically limit the damage of malware attacks, and ensure business continuity by quickly recovering lost or corrupted data with a few clicks.

How Can I Avoid Getting the Zeus Virus Again? 

A few key steps will lower the chance of you getting re-infected with Zeus (or any other virus). Here’s a look at the best methods.

  • Keep your PC up to date. Microsoft frequently releases security updates for your computer. Always keep on top of these. They’re often your first defense from virus threats.
  • Update your antivirus software and malware protection. Similarly, keep your antivirus software and malware protection up to date. New virus definitions are released regularly and these keep your PC informed on what to look for with new virus and malware based threats.
  • Scan your system on a regular basis. With software installed, you shouldn’t ever be infected with anything, but it’s wise to run regular system scans to double check that nothing got through.
  • Be careful online. Don’t click on links you don’t recognize, and only download files from sites you feel confident about. Never click on pop-up ads. If you see a pop-up that warns of a virus or threat, make sure it’s actually coming from your antivirus software and not from a website you’re browsing. If in doubt – don’t click.
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