From ComputerWorld:

IDG News Service – An upstart Trojan horse program has decided to take on its much-larger rival by stealing data and then removing the malicious program from infected computers.

Security researchers say that the relatively unknown [Spy Eye toolkit] added this functionality just a few days ago in a bid to displace its larger rival, known as Zeus.

The feature, called “Kill Zeus,” apparently removes the Zeus software from the victim’s PC, giving Spy Eye exclusive access to usernames and passwords.

Zeus and Spy Eye are both Trojan-making toolkits, designed to give criminals an easy way to set up their own “botnet” networks of password-stealing programs. These programs emerged as a major problem in 2009, with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimating last October that they have caused $100 million in losses.


With its “Kill Zeus” option, Spy Eye is the most aggressive crimeware, however. The software can also steal data as it is transferred back to a Zeus command-and-control server, said Kevin Stevens, a researcher with SecureWorks. “This author knows that Zeus has a pretty good market, and he’s looking to cut in,” he said.

Turf wars are nothing new to cybercriminals. Two years ago a malicious program called Storm Worm began attacking servers controlled by a rival known as Srizbi. And a few years before that, the authors of the Netsky worm programmed their software to remove rival programs Bagle and MyDoom.

Spy Eye sells for about $500 on the black market, about one-fifth the price of premium versions of Zeus. To date, it has not been spotted on many PCs, however.

This, of course, is all being done by the Russians. Which reminds me of all those lines in Gibson books referring to “Russian black ICE”. It is amazing when you that that just two decades ago you could trade a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans for a human life in the Balkans, and now they are this slowly churning cauldron in which the most advanced and dangerous information technologies are being developed. They’ve already shown they are more than capable of blasting the networks of former Soviet satellite states of the face of the Internet whenever they start to get a little too uppity in the face of Mother Russia.

Nerds in Russia, commanding slave armies of sleeper computers. The future is rather strange, innit?