Hackers have protected the newest version of Zeus, a do-it-yourself crimeware kit responsible for stealing millions of pounds from consumers and businesses, with anti-piracy provisions similar to those used by Microsoft's Windows. According to Kevin Stevens, like Windows, Zeus 1.3 ties itself to a specific computer using a key code based in part on machine's hardware configuration. “It's just like a Windows licence,” said Stevens as he explained how the key code’s generated. After launching Zeus Builder kit - which sells for between $3,000 and $4,000 (£1,989 to £2,652) in its most basic configuration - software generates a hardware ID based on the PC's components as well as other factors, including OS's version number, said Stevens. That ID is then forwarded by criminal customer to seller of program, who in turn cranks out a product activation code necessary to begin using toolkit. You could request another [activation] code from person who sold it to you, but there's no guarantee you would get one. Copy protection tech was added for obvious reasons, same ones Microsoft cites when it explains why it regularly updates Windows Activation Technologies (WAT), better known by its earlier name of Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA). “This was definitely done to keep people from pirating software,” said Stevens, who noted that previous versions of Zeus had been widely copied, tweaked and sold by others.
Full story: PC Advisor