Researchers at German antimalware company G Data Software AG have warned of a new Trojan called Ares, which they say will begin spreading over the next few days.
The wide range of uses to which Ares can be put means it represents an extremely high risk to the public and businesses.
G Data Software AG
The modular design of the Ares Trojan is similar to that of the Zeus banking Trojan, which has infected millions of PCs during the last year. The design is such that cybercriminals will be able to modify the malware and adapt it to a variety of targets.
"The wide range of uses to which Ares can be put means it represents an extremely high risk to the public and businesses," said Eddy Willems, the company's security evangelist .
The reason for G Data's preemptive warning is that the Ares developer -- whose identity remains unknown -- has authored a free software development kit for the Trojan. The kit is intended for so-called "trustworthy developers," provided that they pay the Ares developer a licence fee when subsequent modules are sold to third parties.
Others can buy an Ares starter kit for $820, or the full development kit for up to $6,000. Payment is made via an anonymous online payment service -- in this case WebMoney -- so neither the purchaser nor the developer need to reveal his or her true identity.
In describing the sales pitch for the malware, G Data quotes the Ares author as writing: "Every copy of Ares is unique to its customer and it has the same banking capabilities as Zeus and SpyEye, which can be added provided the customer wants it. I actually consider this more of a platform that is customized to each buyer's liking."
Willems said, despite the amount of information known about the impending malware launch, it remains unclear who or what the Trojan's specific targets are, the mechanisms it will use, and who is behind it.