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TeamTNT is Back & Targets Servers to Run Bitcoin Encryption Solvers

The recent attacks bear various signatures linked to TeamTNT and rely on tools previously deployed by the gang.

 

AquaSec threat analysts have detected TeamTNT activity on their honeypots since early September, leading them to believe the infamously hacking group is back in business. 

TeamTNT announced its retirement in November 2021, and most associated observations since then have involved remnants of previous infections, such as automated scripts, but no new payloads. The recent attacks, however, bear various signatures associated with TeamTNT and rely on tools previously deployed by the gang, indicating that the threat actor is likely making a comeback.  The researchers observed three attack types utilized in the reportedly new TeamTNT attacks, the most intriguing being the use of hijacked servers' computational power to run Bitcoin encryption solvers.

The attack, dubbed "the Kangaroo attack" because it employs Pollard's Kangaroo WIF solver, scans for vulnerable Docker Daemons, deploys an AlpineOS image, drops a script ("k.sh"), and eventually retrieves the solver from GitHub. Pollard's Kangaroo interval ECDLP (Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem) solver algorithm attempts to decipher the SECP256K1 encryption used in Bitcoin's public-key cryptography.

“It [the algorithm] is designed to run in a distributed fashion since the algorithm breaks the key into chunks and distributes them to various nodes (attacked servers), collecting the results which are then written locally to a text file,” explains AquaSec.

While quantum computing is expected to break existing Bitcoin encryption at some point in the future, it is thought to be impossible to achieve with current machines, TeamTNT appears willing to test the theory anyway, using other people's resources.

Perhaps the threat actors are simply experimenting with new attack pathways, payload deployment, and evasion while performing intensive operations on captured systems, with the Kangaroo attack ticking all of the boxes.

Other Attacks

Other attacks detected by AquaSec are similar to previous TeamTNT operations but have some new characteristics.

The "Cronb Attack" employs well-documented rootkits, cron jobs for persistence, cryptominers for profit, and lateral movement tools. The appearance of new C2 infrastructure addresses and more elaborate data exchange is the novel element.

The "What Will Be" attack targets Docker Daemons with shell-file dropping Alpine images once more, taking advantage of a vulnerability to escape from the container to the host. The attackers then download and execute additional scripts, rootkits, and a cryptominer, as well as add cronjobs and perform network SSH scans.

These scripts introduce a new trick in this attack, allowing threat actors to optimise crypto mining performance by modifying CPU model-specific registers. Whether it is TeamTNT or someone else carrying out these attacks, organisations should strengthen their cloud security, strengthen Docker configuration, and implement all available security updates before it is too late.

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