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 US Reclaimed $15 Million From an Ad Fraud Operation

 

The US government has recovered more than $15 million in earnings from the 3ve digital advertising fraud enterprise, which cost firms more than $29 million in unviewed ads. 

Sergey Ovsyannikov, Yevgeniy Timchenko, and Aleksandr Isaev, according to the Justice Department, accessed more than 1.7 million infected computers between December 2015 and October 2018, using tens of command and control (C&C) servers as the Kovter botnet, a click-fraud malware would quietly run in the background while connecting to sites to consume advertisements. 

A forfeiture order, according to the Justice Department, resulted in the transfer of $15,111,453.84 from Swiss bank accounts to the US government. The technique resulted in the falsification of billions of ad views and the spoofing of over 86,000 domains. According to the US Department of Justice, groups paid over $29 million for advertising never seen by real people. 

Ovsyannikov and Timchenko were arrested in 2018, pleaded guilty, and sentenced to jail terms in the United States. For this role in 3ve (pronounced "Eve"), Isaev and five others are accused of money laundering, wire fraud, computer intrusion, and identity theft, yet they stay free. 

The US also charged Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, and Dmitry Novikov, five Russian citizens, with running the Methbot ad fraud scheme, which is thought to have netted the fraudsters more than $7 million in illegal gains. 

"This forfeiture is the greatest international cybercrime recovery in the Eastern District of New York's history," said United States Attorney Peace in a press statement.

Three Malware Fileless Phishing Campaigns: AveMariaRAT / BitRAT /PandoraHVNC

 

A phishing effort that was distributing three fileless malware onto a victim's device was detailed by cybersecurity experts at Fortinet's FortiGuard Labs. AveMariaRAT, BitRAT, and PandoraHVNC trojan viruses are spread by users who mistakenly run malicious attachments delivered in phishing emails. The viruses are dangerously capable of acquiring critical data from the device.
 
Cybercriminals can exploit the campaign to steal usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information, such as bank account numbers. BitRAT is particularly dangerous to victims because it can take complete control of infected Windows systems, including viewing webcam activity, listening to audio through the microphone, secretly mining for cryptocurrency that is sent to the attackers' wallet, and downloading additional malicious files.

The first phishing mail appears to be a payment report from a reputable source, with a brief request to view a linked Microsoft Excel document. This file contains dangerous macros, and when you open it, Microsoft Excel warns you about using macros. If the user disregards the warning and accepts the file, malware is downloaded. The malware is retrieved and installed onto the victim's computer using Visual Basic Application (VBA) scripts and PowerShell. For the three various types of malware that can be installed, the PowerShell code is divided into three pieces. This code is divided into three sections and employs the same logic for each virus: 
  • A dynamic mechanism for conducting GZip decompression is included in the first "$hexString." 
  • The second "$hexString" contains dynamic PowerShell code for decompressing the malware payload and an inner.Net module file for deploying it. 
  • The GZip-compressed malware payload is contained in the "$nona" byte array. The following PowerShell scripts are retrieved from the second $hexString and are used to decompress the malware payload in $nona and to deploy the malware payload into two local variables using the inner.Net module. 
The study doesn't explain as to why the phishing email contains three malware payloads, but it's conceivable that with three different types of malware to deploy, the cybercriminals will have a better chance of gaining access to whatever critical information they're after. 

Phishing is still one of the most prevalent ways for cyber thieves to deliver malware because it works – but there are steps you can take to avoid being a victim. Mysterious emails claiming to offer crucial information buried in attachments should be avoided, especially if the file requires users to allow macros first. Using suitable anti-spam and anti-virus software and training workers on how to recognize and report phishing emails, businesses may help workers avoid falling victim to phishing emails.

Alert! Scam Pixelmon NFT Website Hosts Password-stealing Malware

 

A bogus Pixelmon NFT site tempts visitors with free tokens and collectables while infecting them with spyware that steals their cryptocurrency wallets. Pixelmon is a popular NFT project with plans to create an online metaverse game where users can gather, train, and battle other players with pixelmon pets. 

The project has attracted a lot of attention, with nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and over 25,000 Discord members. Threat actors have replicated the original pixelmon.club website and built a fake version at pixelmon[.]pw to deliver malware to take advantage of this interest. Instead of providing a demo of the project's game, the malicious site provides executables that install password-stealing malware on a device. 

The website is selling a package named Installer.zip that contains a faulty executable that does not infect customers with malware. However, MalwareHunterTeam, which was the first to identify this malicious site, detected other dangerous files transmitted by it, allowing to see what malware it was spreading. Setup.zip, which contains the setup.lnk file, is one of the files sent by this fraudulent site. Setup.lnk is a Windows shortcut that runs a PowerShell command to download pixelmon[.]pw's system32.hta file. 

When BleepingComputer tested these malicious payloads, the System32.hta file downloaded Vidar, a password-stealing malware that is no longer widely used. Security researcher Fumik0_, who has previously examined this malware family, confirmed this. When launched, the Vidar sample from the threat actor connects to a Telegram channel and retrieves the IP address of a malware's command and control server. The malware will then obtain a configuration instruction from the C2 and download further modules to steal data from the afflicted device. 

Vidar malware may steal passwords from browsers and apps, as well as scan a computer for files with certain names, which it subsequently sends to the threat actor. The C2 commands the malware to seek for and steal numerous files, including text files, cryptocurrency wallets, backups, codes, password files, and authentication files, as seen in the malware setup below. Because this is an NFT site, visitors are expected to have bitcoin wallets installed on their PCs. 

As a result, threat actors focus on looking for and stealing cryptocurrency-related files. While the site is presently not distributing a functioning payload, BleepingComputer has observed evidence that the threat actors have been modifying the site in recent days, as payloads that were available two days ago are no longer available. 

One can expect this campaign to continue to be active, and working threats to be added soon, based on the site's activity. Due to the high number of fraudsters attempting to steal the bitcoin from NFT projects, one should always double-check that the URL they are viewing is indeed associated with  their interested project.

On Microsoft Exchange Servers, a New IceApple Exploit Toolkit was Launched

 

Security analysts discovered a new post-exploitation framework that could enable Microsoft Exchange servers to be compromised. This framework, known as IceApple, was created by threat actors who wanted to preserve a low profile while launching long-term attacks to assist reconnaissance and data exfiltration. 

"As of May 2022, IceApple is under active development, with 18 modules seen in operation across several enterprise contexts," CrowdStrike reported. The complex virus was identified in various victim networks and in geographically separate areas, which were detected in late 2021. Victims come from a variety of fields, including technology, academia, and government.

IceApple is unique for being an in-memory framework, implying a threat actor's desire to keep a low forensic footprint and avoid detection, which bears all the signs of a long-term algorithmic mission by creating files that appear to come from Microsoft's IIS web server. While most of the malware has been found on Microsoft Exchange servers, IceApple can function under any Internet Information Services (IIS) web app, making it a dangerous threat.

IceApple activity, as per CrowdStrike researchers, could be linked to nation-state attacks. Although IceApple has not been linked to any single threat actor, many believe it was developed by China. 

The actual number of victims of the attack has not been determined by CrowdStrike, but they do not rule out the possibility that the threat will expand in the following weeks. In this regard, the experts suggested updating any apps used by public and commercial businesses to strengthen the system's protection against this framework. 

The malware can locate and erase files and directories, write data, collect credentials, search Active Directory, and transfer sensitive data due to the framework's various components. These components' build timestamps date back to May 2021.

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.

New Malware NetDooka Deployes Payload: Trend Micro Report

Experts found an advanced malware framework and it has named it as NetDooka because of a few components. The framework is deployed via a pay-per-install (PPI) service and includes various parts, which include a loader, a dropper, a full-featured remote access Trojan (RAT), and a protection driver that deploys its own network communication protocol. "Upon execution, the loader will deobfuscate strings, such as the command-and-control (C&C) server address, and check for the command-line arguments that were passed. The malware accepts multiple arguments that indicate what action should be taken," says TrendMicro report. 

NetDooka is distributed via the PrivateLoader malware which after installing, starts the exploitation chain. The report emphasizes the components and infection chain of the NetDooka framework. The scope varies from the issue of the first payload, which drops a loader that makes a new virtual desktop to deploy an antivirus software uninstaller and communicate with it by emulating the mouse and pointer position- an essential step to complete the uninstallation process and make an environment for executing other components- until the launch of the final RAT that is guarded by a kernel driver. 

The infection starts after a user unknowingly downloads PrivateLoader, generally via pirated software sites, after that, NetDooka malware gets installed, a dropper component that results in decrypting and implementing the loader component. The loader starts various checks to make sure that the malware isn't working in a virtual environment, following that it installs another malware through a remote server. It can also download a kernel driver that can be used later. 

The downloaded malware is another dropper component that a loader executes, it is responsible for decryption and execution of the final payload, a RAT has multiple features like executing a remote shell, getting browser data, capturing screenshots, and accessing system information. TrendMicro says "If no parameter is passed to the loader, it executes a function called “DetectAV()” that queries the registry to automatically identify the antivirus products available in order to uninstall them."

GoBrut Botnet Targets Sites and Devices: Heimdal Security Report

Heimdal Security released an advisory for its customer base, users, partners, and clients in a matter that involved the emergence of a botnet that has infected thousands of sites. The botnet StealthWorker (GoBrut) has managed a large number of attacks in a very short time, via brute-forcing the target's internet-facing NAS devices and web servers. For the infected devices, Heimdal says that they will be used in future botnet campaigns for exploiting more hosts. GoBrut is not a botnet novelty exactly. 

It was involved in the August 2021 campaign against Synology's NAS devices, however, its origin can be traced back to February 2019, when malware launched various brute-force attacks against poorly secured CMSs, including Magento. In terms of design, GoBrut is scripted in Golang, a popular programming language in the hacker communities and pen testers because of its flexibility, coding efficiency two IP addresses, and reasonable learning curve. In Synology's case, the payload was distributed via JS injection or something similar. 

Once the distribution was tagged as successful, the malware begins to collect resources, finding the ones vulnerable to brute force. The reason why botnet StealthWorker had impressive success is rooted in how few CMSs manage password hygiene. In various incidents, leaked credentials were default user-password pairs, which hints that no measures were taken to make the passwords strong. Regarding the intrusion, the credentials accessed via distributed dictionary-based brute-forcing were given to a C2 panel hosted on a secondary 'attack' address, for C2 performing functions. 

A surprising thing is that GoBrut is also capable of backtracking user admin login paths and extracting backup file locations. Heimdal Security says "the botnet StealthWorker is the very embodiment of the saying: “simpler is better”. Although heavily reliant on volumetric attacks, this malware has managed to rake up numerous hits by leveraging sub-par authentication mechanisms."

Attackers are Employing Multiple Malwares to Target Ukrainian System

 

Amid Russia-Ukraine war, cybersecurity experts have witnessed a sudden increase in the number of wiper malware deployments. Since February 24, Ukrainian security experts have unearthed at least seven new types of malwares employed by attackers to target Ukraine: AcidRain, WhisperGate, WhisperKill, HermeticWiper, IsaacWiper, CaddyWiper, and DoubleZero. 

Earlier this week, AT&T cybersecurity published a blogpost detailing the different types of wiper malware which we have covered below. 

WhisperKill 

On the night of January 14, anonymous hackers attempted to secure access to and deface the websites of more than 70 Ukrainian government agencies, according to Ukraine’s security service. The malware successfully defaced 22 websites and severely damaged six. 

How it operates: The malware downloads a payload that wipes the Master Boot Record (MBR), then downloads a malicious file hosted on a Discord server, which drops and executes another wiper payload that destroys files on the compromised devices. 

HermeticWiper 

A month after, on February 23rd 2022, ESET Research discovered a new Wiper called HermeticWiper being used against hundreds of Ukrainian systems. The hackers then used a shell company to issue a certificate that allows bypassing detection capabilities, such as Microsoft Defender SmartScreen and built-in browser protections. 

The malware collects all the data it wants to delete to maximize the impact of the wiping, it uses the EaseUS Partition Master driver to overwrite the selected parts of the disk with random data.

IsaacWiper 

A day after the initial assault with HermeticWiper, on February 24th, 2022, a new wiper was used against the Ukrainian government, as reported by ESET, without any significant similarities to the HermaticWiper used the day before. 

This wiper malware iterates through the filesystem, enumerates files and overwrites them. The behavior is similar to ransomware activity, but in this case, there is no decryption key. Once the data has been overwritten, it is lost. 

AcidRain 

On March 15, a new strain of wiper malware called AcidRain was discovered by researchers at SentinelLabs. AcidRain wiper was used in an attack against the Viasat KA-SAT satellite broadband service provider. 

The attacker gained access to the management infrastructure of the provider to deploy AcidRain on KA-SAT modems used in Ukraine. The wiper employed was the ELF MIPS wiper targeting Viasat KA-SAT modems, which aimed to firstly overwrite any file outside of the any common *nix installation: bin, boot, dev, lib, proc, sbin, sys, sur, etc. to then delete data from devices. 

CaddyWiper 

The first version of CaddyWiper was unearthed by ESET researchers on March 14 when it was used against a Ukrainian bank. Then it was employed again during the attack on the Ukrainian energy company on April 12. 

The Wiper overwrites files on the computer with null byte characters, making them unrecoverable. This malware can be executed with or without administrator privilege. In both cases, it causes lethal damage to the target machine. 

DoubleZero 

On March 22, 2022 CERT-UA reported a new wiper used against their infrastructure and enterprises. Dubbed DoubleZero, the wiper was distributed as a ZIP file containing an obfuscated .NET program. 

The wiper erases files in two ways: by overwriting them with zero blocks of 4096 bytes (FileStream.Write method) or using NtFileOpen, NtFsControlFile API calls (code: FSCTL_SET_ZERO_DATA). 

To prevent further assaults, researchers recommended keeping systems up to date and sharing knowledge regarding cybersecurity. In addition, attacks can be avoided by having periodic backup copies of key infrastructure available.

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.

Hackers Sneak 'More_Eggs' Malware Into Resumes Sent to Corporate Hiring Managers

 

A year after potential candidates looking for work on LinkedIn were tempted with weaponized job offers, a new series of phishing assaults carrying the more eggs malware has been detected attacking corporate hiring supervisors with false resumes as an infection vector. 

Keegan Keplinger, eSentire's research and reporting lead said in a statement, "This year the more_eggs operation has flipped the social engineering script, targeting hiring managers with fake resumes instead of targeting job seekers with fake job offers."
 
Four separate security events were identified and disrupted, according to the Canadian cybersecurity firm, three of which happened towards the end of March. A U.S.-based aerospace company, a U.K.-based accounting firm, a legal firm, and a hiring agency, all based in Canada, are among the targets. 

The malware, which is thought to have been created by a threat actor known as Golden Chickens (aka Venom Spider), is a stealthy, modular backdoor suite capable of stealing sensitive data and lateral movement across a hacked network. 

Keplinger stated, "More_eggs achieves execution bypassing malicious code to legitimate windows processes and letting those windows processes do the work for them."
 
The goal is to leverage the resumes as a decoy to launch the malware and sidestep detection. Apart from the role reversal in the mode of operation, it's unclear what the attackers were after, given that the attacks were stopped before they could carry out their intentions. However, it's worth noting that, once deployed, more eggs might be used as a launchpad for further assaults like data theft and ransomware. 

"The threat actors behind more_eggs use a scalable, spear-phishing approach that weaponizes expected communications, such as resumes, that match a hiring manager's expectations or job offers, targeting hopeful candidates that match their current or past job titles," Keplinger stated.

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." 

Researchers Warn of Fake Windows 11 Upgrade Containing Info Stealing Malware

 

Cybercriminals are tricking users into installing a fake Windows 11 upgrade that includes malware that steals data from web browsers and crypto-wallets. The malicious campaign that is still running operates by poisoning search results to drive traffic to a website impersonating Microsoft’s Windows 11 advertising page and offering the information stealer. 

According to CloudSEK threat researchers who analyzed the malware and published a technical report, malicious actors are focusing on people who rush to install Windows 11 without first learning that the OS must satisfy specific requirements. 

The rogue website advertising the false Windows 11 has official Microsoft logos, favicons, and a “Download Now” button. It looks legitimate at first glance, but the URL reveals the site as fraudulent. If visitors access the malicious website directly (download is not possible via TOR or VPN), they will receive an ISO file containing the executable for new information-stealing malware. 

The CloudSEK researchers named the new malware 'Inno Stealer' as it uses the Inno Setup Windows Installer. The researchers said that Inno Stealer has no code in common with other presently circulating info-stealers. Once active, the malware plants a pair of files that disable various Windows security measures, including those in the registry. They also wipe out software from anti-virus companies Emsisoft and ESET. 

Inno Stealer’s capabilities are typical for this kind of malware, including the ability to collect web browser cookies and passwords, data from cryptocurrency wallets, and data from the disk. The set of targeted browsers and crypto wallets is extensive, including Chrome, Edge, Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, 360 Browser, and Comodo. 

The malware can also steal extra payloads, an action only performed at night, potentially to take advantage of the victim’s absence from the computer. These additional Delphi payloads, which are TXT files, use the same Inno-based loader that fiddles with the host’s security tools and employs an identical persistence methodology. They also have the ability to grab clipboard data and exfiltrate directory enumeration data. 

To mitigate the risks, researchers recommended avoiding downloading ISO files from obscure sources and instead undertaking significant OS updates using the Windows 10 control panel or obtaining the installation files directly from the source. If you can’t upgrade to Windows 11, there’s no point in attempting to bypass the limitations manually since this will come with a slew of drawbacks and severe security risks.

New Hybrid Enemybot Malware Targets Routers, Web Servers

 

A recently discovered DDoS botnet is enslaving multiple router models and various types of web servers by abusing known vulnerabilities, researchers at Fortinet Labs warned. 

Dubbed Enemybot, the botnet has been linked to the cybercrime group named Keksec which specializes in DDoS attacks and cryptocurrency mining and has been linked to multiple botnets such as Simps, Ryuk, and, Samel. 

The malware is the result of combining and modifying the source code of the Gafgyt (Bashlite) botnet – which leaked in 2015 –and the infamous Mirai botnet, with the latest version using the scanner module and a bot killer module. 

Enemybot employs multiple obfuscation methodologies meant not only to prevent analysis, but also to keep it concealed from other botnets, and connect to a remote server that's hosted in the Tor anonymity network to fetch attack commands. 

The new botnet also attempts to exploit a wide range of devices and architectures by using known combinations of usernames and passwords, running shell commands on Android devices with a compromised Android Debug Bridge port (5555), and targeting roughly 20 known router vulnerabilities.

The most recent of the targeted security loopholes is CVE-2022-27226, a remote code execution issue that impacts iRZ mobile routers, and which was made public on March 19, 2022. Enemybot, Fortinet points out, is the first botnet to target devices from this vendor. 

Enemybot also targets the now infamous Apache Log4j remote code execution vulnerabilities disclosed last year (CVE-2021-44228 and CVE-2021-45046), as well as a couple of path traversal issues in the Apache HTTP server (CVE-2021-41773 and CVE-2021-42013). 

The botnet also attempts to abuse security loopholes in TOTOLINK routers and Seowon routers, as well as older vulnerabilities in ThinkPHP, D-Link routers, NETGEAR products, Zhone routers, and ZyXEL devices. 

Once a flaw has been successfully abused, the malware runs a shell command to download a shell script from a URL that is dynamically updated by the C&C. The script is responsible for downloading the actual Enemybot binary compiled for the target device’s architecture.

After successful exploitation, the malware links to its C&C server and waits for further instructions. Based on received commands, it can perform DNS amplification attacks and various types of DDoS assaults, sniff traffic, and spread to other devices via brute force attacks. 

“This mix of exploits targeting web servers and applications beyond the usual IoT devices, coupled with the wide range of supported architectures, might be a sign of Keksec testing the viability of expanding the botnet beyond low-resource IoT devices for more than just DDoS attacks. Based on their previous botnet operations, using them for crypto mining is a big possibility,” Fortinet notes.

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."

Malspam Campaign Spreads Novel META Info-stealer

 

The new META malware, a unique info-stealer malware that appears to be gaining popularity among hackers, has been discovered in a malspam campaign. 

META, along with Mars Stealer and BlackGuard, is one of the latest info-stealers whose administrators aim to profit from Raccoon Stealer's absence from the market, which has left many looking for a new platform.  META was initially reported on the Bleeping Computer last month when KELA experts cautioned of its quick entry into the TwoEasy botnet marketplace. The product is advertised as an upgraded version of RedLine and costs $125 per month for monthly users or $1,000 for unlimited lifetime use. 

META is currently being utilised in attacks, according to security researcher and ISC Handler Brad Duncan. It is being used to steal passwords stored in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox, as well as cryptocurrency wallets. The infection chain in this campaign uses the "standard" approach of sending a macro-laced Excel spreadsheet as an email attachment to potential victims' inboxes. The communications make fictitious financial transfer promises that aren't very persuasive or well-crafted, yet they can nonetheless be effective against a considerable percentage of recipients. 

A DocuSign bait is included in the spreadsheet files, urging the target to "allow content" in order to launch the malicious VBS macro in the background. The malicious script will download a variety of payloads, including DLLs and executables, when it runs. To avoid detection by the security software, some of the downloaded files are base64 encoded or have their bytes reversed. 

One of the samples Duncan collected, for example, has its bytes reversed in the original file. The full payload is eventually assembled on the machine under the name "qwveqwveqw.exe," which is most likely random, and a new registry entry for persistence is created. The EXE file generating activity to a command and control server at 193.106.191[.]162, even after the system reboots, is clear and persistent evidence of the infection, restarting the infection process on the affected machine. 

One thing to keep in mind is that META uses PowerShell to tell Windows Defender to exclude .exe files in order to protect its files from discovery.

US Agencies Disables Russia-linked "Cyclops Blink" Botnet

 

The US Department of Justice (DoJ), working alongside the FBI and various other authorities, has successfully neutralized Cyclops Blink, a modular botnet operated by a malicious group known as Sandworm, which has been linked to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU). 

In the court-authorized operation, the US agencies copied and removed malware from susceptible internet-linked firewall devices that Sandworm used for command and control (C2) of the underlying botnet. Although the operation did not involve access to the Sandworm malware on the thousands of underlying compromised devices worldwide, the DoJ said the disabling of the C2 mechanism severed those bots from the Sandworm C2 devices' control. 

 Cyclops Blink, which is believed to be the successor to VPNFilter, a botnet largely neglected after it was exposed by security experts in 2018 primarily targeted WatchGuard firewall appliances and ASUS routers, with the Sandworm group exploiting a previously discovered security loophole in WatchGuard's Firebox firmware as an initial access vector. 

"These network devices are often located on the perimeter of a victim's computer network, thereby providing Sandworm with the potential ability to conduct malicious activities against all computers within those networks," the DoJ added. 

WatchGuard Technologies issued a statement confirming it worked with the U.S. Justice Department to disrupt the botnet but did not disclose the number of devices affected - saying only that they represented "less than 1 percent of WatchGuard appliances.” 

The device manufacturer has published detection and remediation tools alongside recommendations for device owners to remove any malware infection and patch their devices to the latest versions of available firmware. 

The company has also updated its Cyclops Blink FAQs to provide details regarding CVE-2022-23176 (CVSS score: 8.8), which could "allow an unprivileged user with access to Firebox management to authenticate to the system as an administrator" and gain unauthorized remote access. Device manufacturer ASUS has also released firmware patches as of April 1, 2022, to mitigate the threat, recommending users to update to the latest version.

 Hazardous Redirect Web Server Evokes Malicious Campaigns On Over 16,500 Sites

 

Parrot is a novel TDS system for online traffic redirection that runs on a few servers hosting over 16,500 sites from government agencies, universities, adult platforms, and personal blogs. The service was apparently also utilized in the context of various cyber-attacks aiming at diverting victims to phishing or sites which result in malware being installed on the systems. Reportedly, all of this is dependent on individual user characteristics such as location, language, operating system, and browser.

TDS services are purchased by threat actors undertaking malicious campaigns to filter incoming traffic and route it to a final destination which serves harmful material. Advertisers and marketers utilize TDS legitimately. Most TDS services are used regularly by professionals in the marketing industry, which is why there are credible reports demonstrating how similar campaigns were executed in the recent past. 

Security analysts working with Avast have revealed that the Parrot has been identified as they recently made assertions about how the campaign was used for FakeUpdate, which delivered update warnings regarding remote access trojans, sometimes known as RATs, using fake browsers. 

Avast threat experts found Parrot TDS, which is presently being utilized for a campaign called FakeUpdate, which distributes remote access trojans (RATs) via phony browser update alerts. The effort appears to have begun in February 2022, however, there have been traces of Parrot activity dating back to October 2021.

"One of the primary differences between Parrot TDS and other TDS is its broad nature and a large number of possible victims," says Avast in the research. "Apart from servers hosting poorly secured CMS sites, such as WordPress sites, the hijacked websites we discovered appear to have nothing in common."

Avast services prevented more than 600,000 of its users from visiting these compromised sites in March 2022 alone, demonstrating the Parrot redirection gateway's huge reach. The majority of the people who were redirected were from Brazil, India, the United States, Singapore, and Indonesia. 

They have been known to accomplish this by redirecting the victim to special URLs with extensive network profiles and meticulously built software. While the TDS may be primarily focused on the RAT initiative, security experts believe some of the impacted servers also serve as hosts for various phishing sites.  

Those landing sites seem just like a genuine Microsoft login page, prompting visitors to input there login credentials. The best strategy to deal with malicious redirections for web users is to keep an up-to-date internet security solution running at all times. Avast advises administrators of possibly compromised web servers to take the following steps: 

  •  Use an antivirus to scan all files on the webserver. 
  •  Replace all original JavaScript and PHP files on the webserver. 
  •  Use the most recent CMS and plugin versions. 
  •  Look for cron jobs or other automatically executing processes on the webserver. 
  •  Always use unique and strong credentials for all services and accounts, and utilize two-factor authentication whenever possible. 
  • Use some of the security plugins for WordPress and Joomla which are available.

Octo: A New Malware Strain that Targets Banking Institutions

 

Last year, an Android banking malware strain was found in the open, few organizations called it "Coper," belonging to a new family, however, ThreatFabric intelligence hinted it as a direct inheritance of the infamous malware family Exobot. Found in 2016, Exobot used to target financial institutions until 2018, these campaigns were focused in France, Turkey, Thailand, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Following the incident, another "lite" variant surfaced, named ExobotCompact by the developer famous as "Android" on the dark web. 

Analysts from ThreatFabric established a direct connection between ExobotCompact and the latest malware strain, named "ExobotCompact.B." The latest malware strain surfaced in November 2021, named ExobotCompact.D. "We would like to point out that these set of actions that the Trojan is able to perform on victim’s behalf is sufficient to implement (with certain updates made to the source code of the Trojan) an Automated Transfer System (ATS)," says ThreatFabric report. The recent actions by this malware family involve distribution via various malicious apps on Google Play Store. 

The apps were installed more than 50k times, targeting financial organizations around the world, including broad and generic campaigns having a high number of targets, along with focused and narrow campaigns across Europe. Earlier this year, experts noticed a post on a dark web forum, a user was looking for an Octo Android botnet. Later, a direct connection was found between ExobotCompact and Octo. Interestingly, ExobotCompact was updated with various features and rebranded as Octo, bringing remote access capability, therefore letting malicious actors behind the Trojan to perform on-device fraud (ODF). 

ODF is the riskiest, most dangerous fraud threat. Here, transactions begin from the same device that a target uses on a daily basis. Here, anti-fraud programmes are challenged to detect the scam activity with less in number malicious indicators and different fraud done via different channels. ThreatFabric reports, "to establish remote access to the infected device, ExobotCompact.D relies on built-in services that are part of Android OS: MediaProjection for screen streaming and AccessibilityService to perform actions remotely."

This Ransomware Sent North Carolina A&T University Rushing to Restore Services

 

Last month, North Carolina A&T State University, the country's largest historically black college, was hit by the ALPHV ransomware group, which forced university staff to rush to restore services. 

Melanie McLellan, an industrial system engineering student, told the school newspaper, The A&T Register “It’s affecting a lot of my classes, especially since I do take a couple of coding classes, my classes have been cancelled. They have been remote, I still haven’t been able to do my assignments.” 

According to the paper, the breach happened during the week of March 7th, when students and professors were on spring break. Wireless connections, Blackboard instruction, single sign-on websites, VPN, Jabber, Qualtrics, Banner Document Management, and Chrome River were among the systems taken down by the attack, and many of them remained down when the student paper reported its story two weeks ago. 

The report came a day after North Carolina A&T appeared on a darknet site that ALPHV uses to name and shame victims in an attempt to persuade them to pay a hefty ransom. ALPHV, also known as Black Cat, is a newcomer to the ransomware-as-a-service sector, in which a core group of developers collaborates with affiliates to infect victims and split any proceeds. 

ALPHV has been characterised by some of its members as a successor to the BlackMatter and REvil ransomware gangs, and experts from security firm Kaspersky released evidence on Thursday that supported up that claim. ALPHV/Black Cat is using an exfiltration technique that was previously only used by BlackMatter, according to Kaspersky, and represents a fresh data point connecting BlackCat with past BlackMatter activities. Earlier, BlackMatter collected data via the Fendr tool before encrypting it on the victim's server. 

Kaspersky researchers wrote, “In the past, BlackMatter prioritized collection of sensitive information with Fendr to successfully support their double coercion scheme, just as BlackCat is now doing, and it demonstrates a practical but brazen example of malware re-use to execute their multi-layered blackmail. The modification of this reused tool demonstrates a more sophisticated planning and development regimen for adapting requirements to target environments, characteristic of a more effective and experienced criminal program.” 

The ALPHV ransomware is uncommon, according to Kaspersky, because it is coded in the Rust programming language. Another peculiarity is that each ransomware executable is written individually for the targeted enterprise, frequently just hours before the infiltration, using previously gathered login credentials hardcoded into the binary. 

Kaspersky researchers discovered two AlPHV breaches, one on a cloud hosting provider in the Middle East and the other against an oil, gas, mining, and construction corporation in South America, according to a blog post published on Thursday. The use of Fendr was discovered by Kaspersky following the second event. ALPHV has also been blamed for breaches at two German energy providers and the luxury fashion label Moncler.

A&T is the seventh US university or college to be hit by the ransomware so far this year, according to Brett Callow, a security analyst at security firm Emsisoft. Callow also said that at least eight school districts have also been hit, disrupting operations at as many as 214 schools.

FFDroider: A New Malware that Hacks Social Media Accounts

 

FFDroider, a new kind of information stealer has emerged, it steals cookies and credentials from browsers and hacks the target's social media accounts. FFDroider, like any other malware, spreads through software cracks, free software games/apps, and other downloaded files from torrent sites. While installing these downloads, FFDroider will also be initialized, but as a Telegram desktop app disguise to avoid identification. After it's launched, the malware creates "FFDroider" named windows registry key, which eventually led to the naming of this malware. 

FFDroider targets account credentials and cookies stored in browsers like Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft edge, and internet explorer. For instance, the malware scans and parses SQLite Credential stores, Chromium SQLite cookies, and decrypts these entries by exploiting Windows Crypt API, particularly, the CryptUnProtectData function. The process is similar to other browsers, with functions such as InternetGetCookieRxW and IEGet ProtectedMode Cookie exploited for stealing the cookies in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. 

"If the authentication is successful on Facebook, for example, FFDroider fetches all Facebook pages and bookmarks, the number of the victim's friends, and their account billing and payment information from the Facebook Ads manager," reports Bleeping Computer. The decryption and stealing of these cookies lead to clear text usernames and passwords, which are later extracted through an HTTP Post request from the C2 server in the malware campaign. 

FFDroider isn't like other passwords hacking Trojans, its operators do not care about all account credentials present in the browsers. On the contrary, the malware operators focus on stealing credentials from social media accounts and e-commerce websites, these include Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, eBay, Etsy, Twitter, and WAX Cloud wallet's portal. Bleeping Computer reports, "after stealing the information and sending everything to the C2, FFDroid focuses on downloading additional modules from its servers at fixed time intervals."