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Cryptominer Malware Posing as Desktop Version of Google Translate

 

While advertising desktop versions of well-known apps, a crypto mining effort from Turkey has been found infecting thousands of PCs. This campaign's offender is known as "Nitrokod." 

Nitrokod is a Turkish-speaking software company that has been operating since 2019 and promotes its free and secure software. The majority of the programs Nitrokod provides are well-known apps without a formal desktop version. For instance, the desktop version of Google Translate is the most used Nitrokod application. Since Google hasn't made a desktop version available, the hackers' version is quite tempting.

Over 111,000 individuals have been infected by Nitrokod in 11 countries so far.

Malware operation 

Free software that is hosted on websites like Uptodown and Softpedia is used by the campaign to spread malware. Every dropper in the executable's four-stage attack chain pulls the one after it. In the seventh stage, this ultimately results in the download of actual malware (XMRig) falling.

The victims of the campaign are spread throughout a number of nations, including the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, the United States, Greece, Australia, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Mongolia, Poland, and Germany.

The creators of Nitrokod segregate destructive activities from the Nitrokod program that was initially downloaded in order to escape detection:
  • Nearly a month after the Nitrokod software was set up, the malware is first executed.
  • After six earlier phases of infected programs, the malware is deployed.
  • A scheduled job technique was used to maintain the virus chain after a lengthy wait, giving the hackers time to destroy any evidence.
Using Check Point's Infinity XDR (Extended Detection and Response) platform, a prevention-focused XDR solution, CPR discovered this new crypto miner malware campaign. With the use of this technology, SOC teams can swiftly identify, look into, and react to assaults across their whole IT infrastructure. By utilizing data collected from all products, including Endpoint, Networks, Web security, and others, it detects risks inside the company and stops its growth.

Nearly a month after the first infection, the malware is removed. The third stage dropper runs five days after the last run, and the fourth stage dropper adds four more scheduled activities with intervals ranging from one to fifteen days. The phases are removed following the creation of these assignments.

Detection &prevention  

The investigators will have an extremely difficult time identifying the attack and linking it to the bogus installation as a result of this. In order to obtain a configuration file to launch the XMRig mining operation, the virus also creates a connection to a distant C2 server.

Due to extended infection chains and staged infection, hackers were able to avoid detection for months. This gave them plenty of time to change the final payload into crypto miners or ransomware. In order to keep the malware versions in demand and unique, the virus is removed from popular apps like Google Translate that doesn't actually have a desktop version.

Hacker's Spread ModernLoader, XMRig Miner Malware

 


During March and June 2022, Cisco Talos researchers discovered three distinct but connected campaigns that were spreading various malware to victims, including the ModernLoader bot, RedLine info-stealer, and cryptocurrency miners.

The hackers spread over a targeted network via PowerShell,.NET assemblies, HTA, and VBS files before releasing further malware, like the SystemBC trojan and DCRat, to enable different stages of its exploits, according to a report by Cisco Talos researcher Vanja Svajcer.

Cisco Talos further said that the infections were caused by a previously unidentified but Russian-speaking spyware, that used commercial software. Users in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Russia were among the potential targets. 

The first stage payload is an HTML Application (HTA) file that executes a PowerShell script stored on the command-and-control (C2) server to start the deployment of interim payloads that eventually use a method known as process hollowing to inject the malware.

ModernLoader (also known as Avatar bot), a straightforward.NET remote access trojan, has the ability to download and run files from the C2 server, run arbitrary instructions, acquire system information, and alter modules in real-time. 

Additionally, the actors dispersed across a targeted network using PowerShell,.NET assemblies, HTA, and VBS files before releasing additional malware, such as the SystemBC trojan, and DCRAT, to carry out various operations related to their activities.

It is challenging to identify a specific adversary behind this behavior because the attackers used various commercially available tools, according to Cisco Talos.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding attribution, the business reported that threat actors used ModernLoader as the final payload in all three campaigns. This payload then functioned as a remote access trojan (RAT) by gathering system data and delivering further modules.

In addition, two older attacks from March 2022 were discovered by Cisco's analysis. These campaigns use ModerLoader as its principal malware C2 communication tool and also spread other malware, such as XMRig, RedLine Stealer, SystemBC, DCRat, and a Discord token stealer, among others. 

Days prior to the publication of the piece, the corporation hosted a webinar in which it reaffirmed its cybersecurity support for Ukraine in honor of the nation's Independence Day.

That 'Clean' Google Translate App is Actually Windows Crypto-mining Malware

 

 
The Turkish-speaking group responsible for Nitrokod, which has been active since 2019 is said to have infected thousands of systems in 11 countries. Nitrokod, a crypto mining Trojan, is usually disguised as a clean Windows app and functions normally for days or weeks before its hidden Monero-crafting code is executed. What's interesting is that the apps offer a desktop version of services that are normally only available online.

"The malware is dropped from applications that are popular, but don't have an actual desktop version, such as Google Translate, keeping the malware versions in demand and exclusive," Check Point malware analyst Moshe Marelus wrote in a report Monday.

"The malware drops almost a month after the infection, and following other stages to drop files, making it very hard to analyze back to the initial stage."

Nitrokod also uses other translation applications, such as Microsoft Translator Desktop, and MP3 downloader programmes in addition to Google Translate. On some websites, malicious applications will highlight about being "100% clean," despite the fact that they are infected with mining malware. Nitrokod has been productive in spreading its malicious code through download sites such as Softpedia. Since December 2019, the Nitrokod Google Translator app has been downloaded over 112,000 times, according to Softpedia.

Nitrokod programmers, according to Check Point, are patient, taking a long time and multiple steps to conceal the malware's presence inside an infected PC before installing aggressive crypto mining code. Due to the lengthy, multi-stage infection efforts, the campaign went unnoticed for years before being discovered by cybersecurity experts.

"Most of their developed programs are easily built from the official web pages using a Chromium-based framework. For example, the Google translate desktop application is converted from the Google Translate web page using the CEF [Chromium Embedded Framework] project. This gives the attackers the ability to spread functional programs without having to develop them."

After the program is downloaded and the user launches the software, an actual Google Translate app, built using Chromium as described above, is installed and runs normally. Simultaneously, the software quietly fetches and saves a series of executables, eventually scheduling one specific.exe to run every day once unpacked. This extracts another executable that connects to a remote command-and-control server, retrieves Monero miner code configuration settings, and begins the mining process, with generated coins sent to the miscreants' wallets. To conceal its tracks, some of the early-stage code will self-destruct.

One stage also looks for known virtual-machine processes and security products, which may indicate that the software is being researched. If one is discovered, the programme will terminate. If the programme is allowed to run, it will create a firewall rule that will allow incoming network connections.

Throughout the various stages, the attackers deliver the next stage using password-protected RAR-encrypted files to make them more difficult to detect. According to Marelus, Check Point researchers were able to investigate the crypto mining campaign using the vendor's Infinity extended detection and response (XDR) platform.

CISA Updates its Database With 10 New Actively Exploited Vulnerabilities

 

A high-severity security vulnerability impacting industrial automation software from Delta Electronics was among 10 new actively exploited vulnerabilities that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) listed in its Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) Database on Friday.

FCEB agencies are required to address the vulnerabilities by the deadline in accordance with Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 22-01: Reducing the Significant Risk of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities, in order to safeguard their networks from attacks that take advantage of the flaws in the catalog.

Private firms should analyze the Catalog and fix any infrastructure weaknesses, according to experts.

The problem, which has a CVSS score of 7.8, affects DOPSoft 2 versions 2.00.07 and earlier. It is listed as CVE-2021-38406. A successful exploit of the issue could result in the execution of arbitrary code.

Delta Electronics DOPSoft 2's incorrect input validation causes an out-of-bounds write that permits code execution, according to a CISA notice. "Delta Electronics DOPSoft 2 lacks sufficient validation of user-supplied data when parsing specified project files," the alert stated.

Notably, CVE-2021-38406 was first made public as part of an industrial control systems (ICS) advisory that was released in September 2021.

It is crucial to emphasize that the impacted product is no longer being produced and that there are no security updates available to solve the problem. On September 15, 2022, Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) organizations must abide by the directive.

The nature of the attacks that take advantage of the security issue is not well known, but a recent analysis by Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 identified instances of in-the-wild assaults that took place between February and April 2022.

The development supports the idea that attackers are becoming more adept at using newly reported vulnerabilities as soon as they are made public, which encourages indiscriminate and opportunistic scanning attempts that intend to benefit from postponed patching.

Web shells, crypto miners, botnets, remote access trojans (RATs), initial access brokers (IABs), and ransomware are frequently used in a precise order for the exploitation of these assaults.

CVE-2021-31010 (CVSS score: 7.5), an unpatched hole in Apple's Core Telephony component that could be used to get around sandbox constraints, is another high-severity flaw added to the KEV Catalog. In September 2021, the tech giant corrected the flaw.

The IT giant appears to have quietly updated its advisory on May 25, 2022, to add the vulnerability and clarify that it had actually been utilized in attacks, even though there were no signs that the hole was being exploited at the time.

The iPhone manufacturer said that it was aware of a claim that this flaw might have been extensively exploited at the time of release. Citizen Lab and Google Project Zero were credited with making the finding. 

Another noteworthy aspect of the September update is the patching of CVE-2021-30858 and CVE-2021-30860, both of which were used by NSO Group, the company behind the Pegasus spyware, to circumvent the security measures of the operating systems.

This suggests that CVE-2021-31010 may have been linked to the previously described two issues as part of an attack chain to get past the sandbox and execute arbitrary code.



IoT and OT Impacted by Forescout Proof-of-Concept Ransomware Attack

 

Attackers will grow as defenders improve at resisting double extortion. Rather than focusing on IT, an option is to target operational technology (OT). Attacks on OT are not only harder to execute, but their consequences are also more difficult to mitigate.

Vedere Labs, a division of Forescout, has released a proof of concept (PoC) for a 'ransomware' attack that employs IoT for access, IT for traversal, and OT for detonation. Commonly known as R4IoT, it's the latest version of ransomware. R4IoT's ultimate purpose is to get an initial foothold by exploiting exposed and unprotected IoT devices like IP cameras, then installing ransomware in the IT network and using poor operational security procedures to enslave mission-critical systems. 

"It basically comes out of our observation of the shifting nature of the threat actors involved in ransomware — they've been changing strategies in the last couple of years," Daniel dos Santos, head of security research at Forescout's Vedere Labs, explained. The tipping point for thieves to start attacking such devices for ransomware assaults, according to dos Santos, "will most likely be when the IT and OT devices cross 50%." "And that'll be very soon. It will take between one and two years." 

According to the survey, Axis and Hikvision account for 77% of the IP cameras used by Forescout's 1,400 global customers. Axis cameras alone were responsible for 39% of the total. "This shows that exploiting IP camera flaws as a repeatable point of entry to a variety of businesses is a possibility," stated dos Santos in a report. 

In a neutral setting, this may mean infiltrating a corporate network system to drop ransomware and retrieve other payloads from a remote server to deploy cryptocurrency miners and perform DoS assaults against OT assets. Organizations should identify and patch vulnerable devices, enforce network segmentation, adopt strong password rules, and monitor HTTPS connections, FTP sessions, and network traffic to reduce the possibility and impact of possible R4IoT incidents.

"Ransomware has been the most frequent threat in recent years, and it has largely crippled enterprises by exploiting flaws in traditional IT equipment," the researchers noted. Dos Santos advised using the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and zero-trust architecture, as well as effective network segmentation.

Safeguarding From Container Attacks Inside the Cloud


As an alternative to virtualization, containerization has become a key trend in software development. It entails encapsulating or packaging software code and all of its dependencies so it may execute consistently and uniformly across any infrastructure. Containers are self-contained units that represent whole software environments that may be transported. They include everything a program needs to run, including binaries, libraries, configuration data, and references. Docker and Amazon Elastic, as an illustration, are two of the extra well-known choices. 

Although many containers can run on the same infrastructure and use the same operating system kernel, they are isolated from such a layer and have a little interface with the actual hosting elements, for instance, a public cloud occasion. The ability to instantly spin up and down apps  for users, is one of the many advantages of running cloud-based containers. Admins may utilize orchestration to centrally manage containerized apps and services at scale, such as putting out automatic updates and isolating any malfunctioning containers.

Container adoption is at an all-time high, worldwide businesses of all sizes are eager to jump on board. According to a poll conducted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), 83 percent of respondents plan to use Kubernetes in production in 2020, up from 78 percent the year before and just 58 percent in 2018. As adoption grows, cybercriminals' interest grows as well. According to a June Red Hat study, 94 percent of respondents have experienced a Kubernetes security problem in the last 12 months. 

Larry Cashdollar, an Akamai security researcher, recently set up a basic Docker container honeypot to test what type of attention it would get from the larger web's cybercriminals. The results were alarming: in just 24 hours, the honeypot was used for four different nefarious campaigns. Cashdollar had integrated SSH protocol for encryption and developed a “guessable” root password. It wouldn't stick out as an obvious honeypot on the web because it was running a typical cloud container configuration, he explained. It would instead appear to be a vulnerable cloud instance. The assaults had a variety of objectives: one campaign aimed to utilize the container as a proxy to access Twitch feeds or other services, another attempted a botnet infection, a third attempted crypto mining, and the fourth attempted a work-from-home hoax. 

"Profit is still the key motivator for cybercriminals attacking containers," as these cases demonstrate, according to Mark Nunnikhoven, a senior cloud strategist at Lacework. "CPU time and bandwidth can be rented to other criminals for buried services, or even used to directly mine cryptocurrencies. Data can be sold or ransomed at any time. In an environment where containers are frequently used, these reasons do not change." 

According to a recent Gartner study, client misconfigurations or mistakes would be the primary cause of more than 99 percent of cloud breaches by 2025. As per Trevor Morgan, product manager at comfort AG, most businesses, particularly smaller businesses, rely on default configuration options rather than more advanced and granular setup capabilities: "Simple errors or selecting default settings  that are far less safe than customized options." The problems with configuration typically go beyond the containers themselves. Last July, for example, misconfigured Argo Workflows servers were detected attacking Kubernetes clusters. 

Argo Workflows is an open-source, container-native workflow engine for coordinating parallel activities on Kubernetes to reduce processing time for compute-intensive tasks such as machine learning and large data processing. 

According to an examination by Intezer, malware operators were using publicly available dashboards which did not require authentication for outside users to drop crypto miners into the cloud. Far above misconfiguration, compromised images or layers are the next most serious threat to containers, according to Nunnikhoven. "Lacework Labs has witnessed multiple instances of cybercriminals infiltrating containers, either through malware implants or pre-installed crypto mining apps," he said. "When a group deploys the pictures, the attacker has access to the victim's resources."

According to Gal Singer, an Aqua Security researcher, the flaw (CVE-2020-15157) was discovered in the container image-pulling process. Adversaries may take advantage of this by creating dedicated container images which stole the host's token when they were pulled into a project.  Similarly, a denial-of-service vulnerability in one of Kubernetes' Go libraries (CVE-2021-20291) was discovered to be exploited by storing a malicious picture in a registry. When the image was taken from the registry by an unwary user, the DoS condition was generated.

The second source of concern is vulnerabilities, both known and unknown. In 2021, several container flaws were discovered, but "Azurescape" was likely the most alarming. Within Microsoft's multitenant container-as-a-service offering, Unit 42 researchers found a chain of exploits that might allow a hostile Azure user to infect other customers' cloud instances. 

Containerized environments can provide unique issues in terms of observability and security controls, according to Nunnikhoven, but a comprehensive security approach can help. Researchers recommended that users apply a laundry list of best practices to secure their Kubernetes assets: 

  • Avoid using default settings; use secure passwords.
  • To prevent attackers from impersonating the token owner, do not send privileged service account tokens to anyone other than the API server. 
  • Enable the feature "BoundServiceAccountTokenVolume": When a pod ends, its token becomes invalid, reducing the risk of token theft.
  • Examine orchestrators for least-privilege settings to verify that CI/CD movements are authenticated, logged, and monitored. 
  • Be comprehensive: Create a unified risk picture that includes both cloud-based applications and traditional IT infrastructure. 
  • Have data-analysis software in place, as well as an automatic runbook that can react to the findings.

AWS, and Alibaba Cloud was Attacked by Crypto Miners

 

An intel source recently provided Cisco Talos with modified versions of the TeamTNT cybercrime team's infected shell scripts, an earlier version of which was documented by Trend Micro. The malware creator modified these tools after learning that security experts had disclosed the prior version of its scripts. These scripts are intended primarily for Amazon Web Services (AWS), but they might also be used on-premise, in containers, or in other Linux instances. 

There are multiple TeamTNT payloads focusing on bitcoin mining, persistence, and lateral movement employing tactics like identifying and installing on with all Kubernetes pods in a local network, in addition to the primary credential stealer scripts. A script containing user credentials for the distribution system server and another with an API key which may allow remote access to a tmate shared login session is also included. Defense evasion functions aimed at defeating Alibaba cloud security technologies are included in some TeamTNT scripts.

When it comes to decision making obtaining credentials, the script looks for them in the following places and APIs: 

  • It attempts to obtain the string 'AWS' from /proc/*/environ from the Linux system environment variables. 
  • Obtaining the string 'AWS' from Docker environment variables with the command $(docker inspect $) (docker ps -q).
  • /home/.aws/credentials and /root/.aws/credentials are the default AWS CLI credential file locations.
While the query itself will not be caught by Cisco Secure Cloud Analytics, the alert "AWS Temporary Token Persistence" will detect later use of these credentials to generate further temporary credentials. Finally, the virus saves any credentials acquired by the preceding functions to the file "/var/tmp/TeamTNT AWS STEALER.txt" and uses cURL to transfer it to the URL http://chimaera[.]cc/in/AWS.php before deleting it. 

No CloudTrail, GuardDuty, or SCA events were generated when the script ran on the target EC2 instance for all network traffic was restricted by the VPC Security Group such as the script could not access TeamTNT's servers. 

The core of the defense impairment functions is directed against Alibaba Cloud Security's numerous agents, how, they also target Tencent Cloud Monitor and third-party BMC Helix Cloud Security, agents. While the bulk of malicious scripts targets AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machines, these bots are most typically detected running inside Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service (ECS) or a Tencent Cloud VM. They could theoretically be put on a VM operating on AWS or any other service, but it would be unusual. TeamTNT makes no attempt to disable AWS CloudWatch, Microsoft Defender, Google Cloud Monitor, Cisco Secure Cloud Analytics, CrowdStrike Falcon, Palo Alto Prisma Cloud, or other popular cloud security tools in the United States. 

The Alibaba defense damage routines have been retrieved and saved here from the script Kubernetes root payload 2.sh. Since static analysis of the defense impairment functions is problematic due to the presence of multiple Base64 encoded strings, those functions have been decrypted and placed back into the file ali-defense-impairment-base64-decoded.sh.txt. 

"Cybercriminals who have been exposed by security researchers should update those tools to keep functioning successfully," stated Darin Smith of Talos. 

The serious remote code execution problem in Spring Framework (CVE-2022-22965) has been leveraged to deploy cryptocurrency miners, in yet another example of how threat actors quickly co-opt recently revealed flaws into existing attacks. To deploy the cryptocurrency miners, the exploitation efforts employ a unique web shell, but not before switching off the firewall and disabling other virtual currency miner processes.

Log4Shell Utilized for Crypto Mining and Botnet Creation

 

The serious problem in Apache's widely used Log4j project, known as Log4Shell, hasn't caused the calamity predicted, but it is still being exploited, primarily from cloud servers in the United States. Because it was reasonably straightforward to exploit and since the Java application logging library is implemented in many different services, the Log4Shell vulnerability was brought to attention as it raised concerns for being potentially abused by attackers. 

According to a Barracuda study, the targeting of Log4Shell has fluctuated over the last few months, but the frequency of exploitation attempts has remained pretty stable. Barracuda discovered the majority of exploitation attempts originated in the United States, followed by Japan, Central Europe, and Russia. 

Researchers discovered the Log4j version 2.14.1 in December 2021. Reportedly, all prior versions were vulnerable to CVE-2021-44228, also known as "Log4Shell," a significant zero-day remote code execution bug.

Log4j's creator, Apache, attempted to fix the problem by releasing version 2.15.0. However, the vulnerabilities and security flaws prolonged the patching race until the end of every year, when version 2.17.1 ultimately fixed all issues. 

Mirai malware infiltrates a botnet of remotely managed bots by targeting publicly outed network cameras, routers, and other devices. The threat actor can then use this botnet to launch DDoS assaults on a single target, exhausting its resources and disrupting any online services. The malicious actors behind these operations either rent vast botnet firepower to others or undertake DDoS attacks to extort money from businesses. Other payloads which have been discovered as a result of current Log4j exploitation include: 

  • Malware is known as BillGates (DDoS)
  • Kinsing is a term used to describe the act of (cryptominer) 
  • XMRig XMRig XMRig X (cryptominer) 
  • Muhstik Muhstik Muhstik (DDoS) 

The payloads range from harmless online jokes to crypto-mining software, which utilizes another person's computers to solve equations and earn the attacker cryptocurrency like Monero. 

The simplest method to protect oneself from these attacks is to update Log4j to version 2.17.1 or later, and to maintain all of the web apps up to date. Even if the bulk of threat actors lose interest, some will continue to target insecure Log4j deployments since the numbers are still significant. 

Security updates have been applied to valuable firms which were lucrative targets for ransomware assaults, but neglected systems running earlier versions are good targets for crypto mining and DDoS attacks.

Financier Diakonov Called Russia the Future Cryptocurrency Center of the World

 

Mr. Diakonov predicted the future of cryptocurrency and called it a possible alternative to traditional money. "Time will tell how it will be built into the system of international payments and trade," he said.
The financier also stated that Russia can become a cryptocurrency world center since it has the necessary knowledge, capabilities and technologies to create this product. However, it is difficult to guess when this scenario will come to life,since the concepts of cryptocurrencies proposed by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank do not reflect the current situation. 

"If the task is to transfer part of the international settlements into the "new currency," in case this instrument will acquire the scale, then sanctions measures from the West may affect it as well. And we may see the next prohibitive measures of an international nature," he explained. 

According to Mr. Diakonov, China, as Russia's largest business partner, is not yet ready to switch to cryptocurrency trading. However, he suggested that the country would start using the digital yuan. "Here we see great prospects for creating new synthetic products that will become a growth point for the economy," he concluded. 

Earlier, the founder and CEO of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, Changpeng Zhao, said that next year there will be more transparency in the regulation of crypto-assets, and this is a positive signal for the market. In addition, there will be new options for their use. But the crypto market moves cyclically, and an upturn is followed by a downturn. Whether it happens next year or later is hard to predict. Asset volatility will continue regardless of who comes to the market. "Our personal goal for next year is to get as many licenses around the world as we can; we expect to get 10 to 20 more licenses next year." 

In addition, there will be new ways to use them. But the crypto market moves cyclically, and a period of recovery is followed by a recession – it will happen next year or later, it is difficult to predict. Asset volatility will continue regardless of who comes to the market. "Our personal goal for next year is to get as many licenses around the world as possible. We expect to get another 10-20 licenses next year." 

Earlier, the Ministry of Finance submitted to the government a bill on the legalization of cryptocurrencies. According to the document, Russians will have the right to legally invest up to 600 thousand rubles ($7,600) in cryptocurrency annually. However, this will require special testing.

The Ministry of Finance Proposed to Test Russians Before Buying Cryptocurrencies

 

On February 18, the Ministry of Finance submitted a bill on the regulation of cryptocurrencies to the government. At the same time, public discussions began. On Monday, February 21, the agency published details of the document on its official website. 

According to the proposal of the Ministry of Finance, the use of digital currencies as a means of payment in Russia will continue to be prohibited. However, the Ministry of Finance suggests leaving cryptocurrencies only as a tool for investment. The bill defined the requirements for exchanges and exchangers that will deal with cryptocurrencies. 

Foreign cryptocurrency exchanges will have to register in Russia in order to obtain a license. The Ministry of Finance proposes to allow transactions with the purchase or sale of cryptocurrencies only if the client is identified. The deposit and withdrawal of cryptocurrencies will be possible only through banks using a bank account. 

Exchanges must inform citizens about the high risks associated with purchasing digital currencies. Citizens will undergo online testing before purchasing cryptocurrencies, which will determine the level of knowledge of the specifics of investing in digital currencies and awareness of possible risks. 

According to the official website of the Ministry of Finance, "with successful testing, citizens can invest up to 600 thousand rubles in digital currencies annually. If the testing is not passed, then the maximum amount of investment will be limited to 50 thousand rubles (about 0.015 bitcoins at the time of writing the news). Qualified investors and legal entities will make transactions without restrictions." 

The agency also proposes to consolidate the definition of digital mining as an activity aimed at obtaining cryptocurrency. The Ministry of Finance noted that they had received proposals from the Bank of Russia on the introduction of a ban on the organization of the issuance and circulation of digital currencies. 

Last week it became known that the Central Bank proposes to ban not only the organization of the issuance of cryptocurrencies and their circulation but also the dissemination of information about them. Also, the Central Bank prohibits banks and other financial market participants from owning private digital currencies. 

In addition, on February 18, the Central Bank proposed to introduce fines of up to one million rubles ($12,700) for the issue of private cryptocurrency. If the bill is adopted, individuals may face fines in the amount of 300 ($3,800) to 500 ($6,300) thousand rubles, and organizations from 700 thousand ($8,800) to one million rubles ($12,700). 

Earlier, CySecurity News reported that the Kremlin and the Russian government have estimated the Russian cryptocurrency market at $214 billion.

Georgia goes after crypto miners

On January 10, Georgian Economy Minister Natia Turnava told reporters that the Government of Georgia and the energy distribution company Energo-pro Georgia are engaged in solving the problem of illegal mining of cryptocurrencies in the Svaneti region, which leads to an overload of power grids.

The problem is connected with a sharp increase in electricity consumption over the past year in the Mestia region of Svaneti. Widespread mining in the area is associated with low tariffs for businesses in the highland area and free electricity for the local population.

In December, the Georgian authorities had to introduce an electricity supply schedule in Mestia due to network congestion and recurring accidents.

"Of course, illegal electricity consumption is unacceptable, especially the so-called problems with household mining, which, as we know, exist there. We are working with the local government, as well as with Energo-pro Georgia, which supplies electricity to Svaneti, to solve this issue step by step," Turnava said.

She added that she does not think it is justified to involve the police in identifying the mining farms. The Minister of Economy hopes that the population itself is aware of the threat to the tourism sector inherent in the district, and will draw conclusions about this based on its own interests.

It's interesting to note that at the end of December, Mestia residents held protests demanding the closure of mining farms and accused the authorities of patronizing miners.

Energo-pro Georgia announced that it will be forced to introduce tariffs for the population in this situation. Before the New Year, local residents swore on an icon in the church that they would turn off all mining farms in the area. But after the New Year, the energy distribution company said that electricity consumption has not decreased.

According to a study by the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, in 2018 Georgia was in second place in terms of the amount of electricity spent on mining cryptocurrencies — 60 megawatts.

Malware Abcbot Related to the Xanthe Cryptomining Bug Developer's

 

Abcbot, the newly discovered botnet has a longer history than what was originally believed. The Xanthe-based cryptojacking campaign found by Cisco's Talos security research team in late 2020 has a clear link, according to the ongoing examination of this malware family. When Talos was notified of an intrusion on one of their Docker honeypots, they discovered malware that looked like a bitcoin mining bot. 

The virus is known as Xanthe, and its main goal is to mine cryptocurrency using the resources of a compromised system. Based on the findings, the same threat actor is behind both Xanthe and Abcbot, and its goal has shifted from mining cryptocurrency on compromised hosts to more classic botnet activity like DDoS attacks.

Abcbot attacks, first reported by Qihoo 360's Netlab security team in November 2021, are triggered by a malicious shell script that targets insecure cloud instances operated by cloud service providers such as Huawei, Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba Cloud to download malware that co-opts the machine to a botnet but not before terminating processes from competing threat actors and establishing persistence. The shell script in question is an updated version of one found by Trend Micro in October 2021, which targeted Huawei Cloud's vulnerable ECS instances. 

Further investigation of the botnet, which included mapping all known Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) such as IP addresses, URLs, and samples, revealed Abcbot's code and feature-level similarities to that of a cryptocurrency mining operation known as Xanthe, which spread the infection using incorrectly configured Docker implementations. 

The semantic similarities between the two malware families range from the way the source code is formatted to the names given to the routines, with some functions having not only identical names and implementations (e.g., "nameservercheck"), but also have the word "go" appended to the end of the function names (e.g., "filerungo"). According to experts, Abcbot also contains spyware that allows four malicious users to be added to the hacked machine: 
  • Logger 
  • Ssysall 
  • Ssystem 
  • sautoupdater 
Researchers believe that there are substantial links between the Xanthe and Abcbot malware families, implying that the same threat actor is involved. The majority of these would be difficult and inefficient to recreate identically, including string reuse, mentions of shared infrastructure, stylistic choices, and functionality that can be seen in both instances. If the same threat actor is behind both campaigns, it signals a shift away from cryptocurrency mining on compromised devices and toward botnet-related operations like DDoS attacks.

Avira Antivirus Introduces Crypto Mining To Its 500M Customers

 

You might be surprised to know that Norton 360 antivirus came up with a program that allows customers like you to make money mining virtual currency. However, Avira antivirus, having a user base of 500 million users globally, is popular for offering free products. Avira was recently bought by the same company that owns Norton 360, and customers can now access a service called "Avira Crypto." Avira Operations GmbH & Co. KG, founded in 2006, is a German MNC software company, popular for its Avira Free Security (Avira Antivirus). 

Last year, Avira was bought by Tempe, Arizona-based NortonLife Inc, the company which now owns Norton 360. In 2017, Lifelock was acquired by Symantec Corp., which was later renamed to NortonLifeLock 2019. LifeLock is now included in the Norton 360 service; Avira offers you a similar feature Breach Monitor. Similar to Norton 360, Avira will come with an installed crypto miner but you have to select the service that allows it. 

Avira Crypto allows you to use your computer's idle time to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency. "Since crypto mining requires a high level of processing power, it is not suitable for users with an average computer. Even with compatible hardware, mining cryptocurrencies on your own can be less rewarding. Norton hasn't responded to any of the comments, so it's not certain if Avira uses crypto mining code similar to Norton Crypto. But there are hints that suggest it can be the same. 

NortonLifeLock released Avira Crypto in October 2021, but other antivirus companies have flagged it as unsafe and malicious for including a crypto-miner as far as Sept. 9, 2021. "Some longtime Norton customers took to NortonLifeLock’s online forum to express horror at the prospect of their antivirus product installing coin-mining software, regardless of whether the mining service was turned off by default," KrebsonSecurity. Other companies have alleged that crypto offerings might end up costing customers more in electricity bills than they can ever recover from mining ETH.

QNAP : New Crypto-Miner Targeting the NAS Devices

 

A new variant of crypto-mining malware is affecting QNAP's network-attached storage (NAS) devices, as per a new security advisory posted by the Taiwanese hardware firm QNAP. 

The firm did not reveal how the devices were infected, but it did state that once the malware had established a grip on affected systems, it would build a process called [oom reaper] that would consume about 50% of the CPU's entire use. 

QNAP stated, “This process mimics a kernel process but its PID is usually greater than 1000.” 

While the infections are being examined, QNAP advised customers to protect themselves by updating their devices' operating systems (known as QTS or QuTS) and all QNAP add-on software. Furthermore, the business advised users to change all of their NAS account passwords because it was unclear whether the attackers leveraged a vulnerability or just brute-forced an internet-connected device that used a weak password. 

QNAP advised customers to reboot their devices and download and install the company's "Malware Remover" tool from the device's built-in App Center to eliminate the infection. The company's advisory provides step-by-step instructions on how to complete all three procedures above. 

Malware attacks on QNAP systems in the past 

However, in retrospect, the Taiwanese corporation is being utilized by malware gangs to attack its devices. Ransomware strains such as Muhstik, Qlocker, eCh0raix, and AgeLocker have all targeted QNAP devices in recent years, with hackers obtaining access to client NAS systems, encrypting data, and then demanding minor ransom payments. 

Crypto-mining malware has been uncommon, however, it has been seen in the past. QNAP NAS devices were targeted by the Dovecat crypto-mining malware in late 2020 and early 2021, which exploited weak passwords to gain access to QNAP systems. In 2019 and 2020, the QSnatch malware targeted the company's NAS devices, infecting roughly 62,000 systems by mid-June 2020, as per CISA and the UK NCSC. 

QSnatch did not have crypto-mining functionality, but it did have an SSH password stealer and exfiltration capabilities, which were the primary reasons that national cybersecurity agencies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, and Germany became involved and issued national alerts about the botnet's operations.

Tor2mine Crypto Miner Evolves to be a More Dangerous Threat

 

As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity among netizens, cryptocurrency mining campaigns have taken center stage in the threat landscape. Crypto mining campaigns have proven to be financially rewarding for cybercriminals, thus they continue to develop new TTPs and malware strains. Sophos discovered that one such miner variant has resurfaced, only stronger. 

Tor2Mine is a Monero miner that has been operating since at least 2019 and is capable of utilizing huge networks of worker devices. Most of these miners carry out these campaigns against Monero. The altcoin appeals to hackers due to its private and untraceable nature. It employs Microsoft's PowerShell scripting language to disable pre-existing malware security on a server and execute a miner payload, which is a stealthy malware designed to farm system resources. 

Tor2Mine also collects Windows credentials, which it uses to distribute and re-infect other PCs on the compromised network. Other systems are not protected if it is not totally removed. Sophos also reported that, while there was a surge in Tor2Mine infections in early 2021, the fall has been accompanied by the development of new variants. These are most likely the result of minor changes made by separate sets of operators or by the same actors between campaigns.

The presence of miners in a network implies the possibility of more potentially harmful intrusions. Furthermore, Tor2Mine appears to be more aggressive than its competitors. Once it has established persistence, it can only be eliminated using endpoint protection and other anti-malware software. Tor2Mine would continue infecting systems even if the C2 server went down due to its lateral movement feature. 

With the spread of cryptocurrency enthusiasm, illicit mining has become a well-established method of obtaining digital assets illegally. According to a new Google cyber security report, 86% of compromised Google Cloud accounts are used for illegal cryptocurrency mining, as well as monitoring and assaulting other prospective targets. 

Interestingly, according to a June research by Kaspersky, crypto-jacking has declined from its peak in 2017-18 during the initial crypto-boom. The total number of users who encountered miners on their devices, on the other hand, grew to 200,045 in March from 187,746 in the first quarter of this year. 

According to Sophos, firms that quickly fix vulnerabilities on internet-facing systems are less likely to be targeted by crypto miners. As threats evolve, it is critical for enterprises to stay ahead of the game by deploying strong cybersecurity protections.

Google: Cryptocurrency Miners are Targeting Compromised Cloud Accounts

 

Google has warned that cryptocurrency miners are using hacked Google Cloud accounts for computationally intensive mining.

Details were disclosed by Google's cybersecurity team in a study published on Wednesday. The "Threat Horizons" study seeks to give intelligence that will assist firms in keeping their cloud systems safe. 

Google wrote in an executive summary of the report, “Malicious actors were observed performing cryptocurrency mining within compromised Cloud instances.” 

Cryptocurrency mining is a for-profit industry that frequently necessitates enormous quantities of computational power, which Google Cloud users may purchase. Google Cloud is a cloud-based storage technology that allows consumers to store data and files off-site. 

As per Google, 86 per cent of the 50 newly hacked Google Cloud accounts were used to mine cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin mining software was downloaded in the majority of cases within 22 seconds of the account being hacked. Around 10% of the affected accounts were also used to perform scans of other publicly available resources on the internet in order to locate susceptible systems, while the remaining 8% were utilised to attack new targets. 

According to Google, malicious actors were able to get access to Google Cloud accounts by exploiting inadequate consumer security procedures. Almost half of the compromised accounts were the result of criminals acquiring access to an internet-facing Cloud account that had either no password or had been hacked. 

As a result, these Google Cloud accounts were vulnerable to being scanned and brute-forced. A quarter of the compromised accounts were the result of flaws in third-party software installed by the owner. Bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, has been criticized for consuming excessive amounts of energy. Bitcoin mining consumes more energy than several countries. When authorities investigated a suspected cannabis farm in May, they discovered it was actually an illegal bitcoin mine. 

“The cloud threat landscape in 2021 was more complex than just rogue cryptocurrency miners, of course,” wrote Bob Mechler, director of the office of the chief information security officer at Google Cloud, and Seth Rosenblatt, security editor at Google Cloud, in a blog post. 

They also stated that Google researchers discovered a phishing attack by the Russian group APT28/Fancy Bear at the end of September and that Google stopped the attack. Google researchers also discovered a North Korean government-backed threat organisation that impersonated Samsung recruiters in order to deliver harmful attachments to the staff at various South Korean anti-malware protection firms, they noted.