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ChromeLoader: Microsoft, VMware Warns of the New Malware Campaigns

 

Microsoft and VMware are warning about the ongoing widespread malware campaign of ChromeLoader, which led to an “ongoing wide-ranging click frauds” later this year. 

The malware tool named ChromeLoader is apparently hijacking the browsers to redirect users to ad pages. The software has now evolved into a potential threat by deploying more potent payloads that go beyond malvertising. Variants of ChromeLoader have been dropping malicious browser extensions, node WebKit malware, and even ransomware on Windows PCs and Macs. 

Functioning of ChromeLoader 

Microsoft detected an ongoing widespread campaign of click frauds and attributed it to a threat actor DEV-0796. The malware attack begins with an ISO file that is downloaded when the user clicks a malicious ad, browser redirects, or Youtube comment. The attackers seek to profit from clicks generated by malicious browser extensions or node-WebKit that they have installed on the victim’s device, without being detected.  

The researchers from VMware’s Carbon Black Managed Detection and Response (MDR) team said they have seen the malware’s operators impersonating various legitimate services that would lead users to ChromeLoader. The researchers observed hundreds of attacks that included variants of the malware, targeting multiples sectors such as education, government, healthcare, and enterprises in business services. 

“This campaign has gone through many changes over the past few months, and we don’t expect it to stop [...] It is imperative that these industries take note of the prevalence of this threat and prepare to respond to it” warns the researchers. 

Rapid Evolution Of Malware

Earlier, the malware infected Chrome with a malicious extension that redirected the user traffic to advertising sites performing click frauds and generating income for the threat actors. “But, it later evolved into an ‘info-stealer’, stealing sensitive data stored in browsers and deploying zip bombs (i.e. malicious archive files) to crash systems, while still retaining its adware function,” said researchers, in an advisory released on September 19. 

Since Adware does not cause any significant damage to a victim’s software, the threat is not taken seriously by analysts. However, any software, such as ChromeLoader, that could enter a system undetected, is an immediate threat to a user, as the victim may as well apply modifications, facilitating monetization options for the malware. 

“The Carbon Black MDR team believes that this is an emerging threat that needs to be tracked and taken seriously [...] due to its potential for delivering more nefarious malware,” VMware said in the advisory. 

Malware Targets Weblog Servers And Dockers APIs For Cryptomining

Malicious malware known as Kinsing is using both recently discovered and legacy vulnerabilities in Oracle WebLogic Server to boost cryptocurrency mining malware. 
  
It was discovered by Trend Micro, that a financially-motivated cyber attack group behind the malware was making use of the vulnerability to run Python scripts that could disable Operating System (OS) security features such as Security-Enahnced Linux (SELinux), and many more. 
 
Kinsing malware has a history of acquiring vulnerable servers to co-opt into botnet devices such as Redis, SaltStack, Log4Shell, Spring4Shell, and the Atlassian Confluence vulnerability (CVE-2022-26134). The malware has also reportedly been involved in campaign container environments via misconfigured open Docker Daemon API ports instigating crypto mining and spreading the malware to other containers am host devices. 
 
In the latest wave of attacks, the malicious actor weaponized a two-year-old Remote Code Execution (RCE) bug, dubbed CVE-2020-14882 (CVSS score 9.8), against unpatched vulnerabilities to seize control of the servers and cause harm to the victims through malicious payloads. 
 
The exploitation of the bug further involved deploying a shell script responsible for various actions, such as removing the var/log/syslog/systemlog, disabling security functions and cloud service agents from conglomerates like Alibaba and Tencent – killing competing crypto mining processes.  
 
It is then followed by the shell script downloading the Kinsing malware from a remote server, along with taking steps to ensure persistence through a cron job. 
 
“The successful exploitation of this vulnerability can lead to RCE, which can allow attackers to perform plethora of malicious activities on the affected systems” Trend Micro said. “This can range from malware execution [...] to theft of critical data, and even complete control of a compromised machine.”
 
TeamTNT malwares makes comeback
 
Researchers at Aqua Security, a cloud-native security company, have linked three new attacks to another “vibrant” cryptojacking group called "TeamTNT", which eventually stopped functioning in November 2021.  
 
“TeamTNT has been scanning for microconfigured Docker Daemon and deploying alpine, a vanilla container image, with a command line to download a shell script (k.sh) to C2 server”, stated Aqua Security researcher Assaf Morag. 

The attack chain appears to be designed to crack SECP256K1 encryption, which if successful could give the malicious actor the ability to compute the keys for each cryptocurrency wallet. Thus, using high but illegal processing power of its targets to run the ECDLP solver and acquire the key. The other two attacks carried out by the threat group involve exploiting exposed Redis servers and misconfigured Docker API to provide cryptominers and Tsunami binaries. 
 
The targeting of Docker REST APIs by TeamTNTs has been well-documented over the past years. But in an operational security blunder observed by Trend Micro, credentials connected with two of the attacker-controlled DockerHub accounts have been uncovered. 

The accounts namely 'alpineos' and 'sandeep078' are said to have been used to distribute numerous malicious payloads like rootkits, Kubernetes exploits kits, credential stealers, XMTig Monero miners, and even the Kingsing malware. 
 
“The account alpineos was used in exploitation attempts on out honeypots three times, from mid-September to early October 2021, and we tracked the deployments’ IP addresses to their location in Germany,” stated Nitesh Surana, a researcher at Trend Micro. 
 
As estimated by Trends Micro, alpineos image has been downloaded more than 150,000 times. This further notified Docker about these accounts. 
 
The cybersecurity platform recommends organizations configure the exposed RESR API with TLS to steer clear of the adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) attacks, along with using credential stores and helpers to host user credentials.

Experts Find Malware Controlling Thousands of Websites in Parrot TDS Network

The Parrot traffic direction system (TDS) that surfaced recently had a huge impact than what was thought earlier, research suggests. The malware affected more than 61,000 websites and was one of the top infections. Parrot TDS was first identified in April 2022 by cybersecurity company Avast, the PHP script had affected web servers that hosted more than 16,500 websites, acting as a gateway for future malware campaigns. It includes appending a part of infected code to all JavaScript files on affected web servers that host content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, these are attacked because of their weak login credentials and flawed plugins. 

"In 2021 alone, Sucuri said it removed Parrot TDS from nearly 20 million JavaScript files found on infected sites. In the first five months of 2022, over 2,900 PHP and 1.64 million JavaScript files have been observed containing the malware," reports The Hacker News. Alongside the use of sneaky techniques to hide the code, the "injected JavaScript may also be found well indented so that it looks less suspicious to a casual observer," said Denis Sinegubko, expert at Sucuri says. 

The aim of the JavaScript code is to jump-start the second phase of the attack, to deploy a PHP script that has been already injected on the server and is built to obtain information about website visitor, (for ex- IPs, browser, referrer, etc.) and send the details to a remote server. The third phase of the attack surfaces as a Javascript code, it works as a traffic direction system to find out the specific payload to send for a particular user based on the data which was shared in the second stage. 

When the TDS has confirmed the eligibility of a particular site visitor, the NDSX script deploys the final payload through a third-party website. The mostly used third-stage malware is a JavaScript downloader called FakeUpdates. 

"The NDSW malware campaign is extremely successful because it uses a versatile exploitation toolkit that constantly adds new disclosed and 0-day vulnerabilities. Once the bad actor has gained unauthorized access to the environment, they add various backdoors and CMS admin users to maintain access to the compromised website long after the original vulnerability is closed," said Sinegubko.

Latest Phishing Campaign Deploys Malware and Steals Critical Information

A phishing campaign on a massive scale is targeting Windows PC and wants to deploy malware that can hack usernames, passwords, contents of the crypto wallets, and credit card credentials. Malware named RedLine Stealer is provided as a malware-as-a-service scheme, giving amateur level cybercriminals the option to steal various kinds of critical personal information, for amounts as much as $150. The malware first surfaced in 2020, but RedLine recently added a few additional features and is widely spread in large-scale spam campaigns in April. 

The phishing email campaign includes a malicious attachment which, if active, starts the process of deploying malware. Hackers target users (mostly) from Europe and North America. The malware uses CVE-2021-26411 exploits discovered in Internet Explorer to send the payload. The vulnerability was revealed last year and patched, to limit the malware's impact on users who are yet to install the security updates. Once executed, RedLine Stealer does starting recon against the target system, looking for information that includes usernames, the type of browser that the user has, and if an antivirus is running in the system. 

After that, it finds information to steal and then extracts passwords, credit card data, and cookies stored in browsers, crypto wallets, VPN login credentials, chat logs, and information from files. Redline can be bought from the dark web, hackers are offered services on different hierarchical levels, this shows how easy it has become to buy malware. Even noob hackers can rent the software for $100 or get a lifetime subscription for $800. 

The malware is very simple, but very effective, as it can steal vast amounts of data, and inexperienced hackers can take advantage of this. ZDNet reports "it's possible to protect against Redline by applying security patches, particularly for Internet Explorer, as that will prevent the exploit kit from taking advantage of the CVE-2021-26411 vulnerability." The users should keep their operating systems updated, anti-virus and apps updated, to prevent known vulnerabilities from getting exploited for distributing malware.

Scammers Use Babadeda Crypter to Target Crypto, NFT, AND Defi Communities

 

Morphisec Lab researchers have uncovered a new malware campaign using a crypter, dubbed Babadeda, to target the crypto, NFT, and Defi communities. 

The cyberattack with potential links to Russian actors, employs fake OpenSea, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and ZED RUN marketplace domains to target the cryptocurrency and NFT communities on group chat platform Discord.

Over the past years, many providers have reported variants of this crypter but Morphisec is the first to reveal how it is targeting the NFT community specifically. Due to the market value of more than $2.5 trillion, the cryptocurrency market is on the hit list of the attackers. 

According to Morphisec researchers, the malware can evade signature-based antivirus solutions with RAT payloads which allow attackers to secure administrative control over a target’s computer.

“Babadeda is a highly dangerous crypter. Targeting cryptocurrency users through trusted attack vectors gives its distributors a fast-growing selection of potential victims,” stated Hido Cohen and Arnold Osipov, security researchers at Morphisec. “Once on a victim’s machine, masquerading as a known application with a complex obfuscation also means that anyone relying on signature-based malware effectively has no way of knowing Babadeda is on their machine – or of stopping it from executing.”

Attackers Methodology

Threat actor designs a Discord bot account on the official company Discord platform which allows them to impersonate the channel’s official account. Then, the hacker sends users a private message on Discord, inviting them to download a related application. In return, threat actors grant users access to new features and benefits which will redirect them to a decoy site. Then, it will download a malicious installer that embeds the Crypter with the RAT payload.

“Upon clicking ‘Download APP,’ the site will generally navigate to /downland.php, which will redirect the download request to a different domain (this makes it less likely that someone will detect a decoy site),” the researchers explained. “Interestingly, on one of these decoy sites, we noticed an HTML object written in Russian. This suggests that the threat actor’s origins may be in a Russian-speaking country since they most likely forgot to translate the HTML object from their native language into English.”

To bypass detection, the attackers tried to mask their malicious intentions by employing legitimate-looking applications. The domain names and user interface of the decoy sites were similar to the original, and the decoy sites also had a signed certificate, enabling an HTTPS connection. The researchers have spotted 82 domains designed between July 24, 2021, and November 17, 2021, used in this malicious campaign.

Unfortunately, scammers are not just targeting individual users but are also going after reputed organizations. Earlier this month, OpenSea’s security was examined after a white hat hacker discovered a critical bug. The vulnerability could have allowed hackers to design fake blue-chip NFTs and frenzy, resulting in the drainage of hundreds of millions.