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The Naikon APT and the MsnMM Campaigns

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:58

The MsnMM Campaigns [pdf]

For over half a decade, the Naikon APT waged multiple attack campaigns on sensitive targets throughout South-eastern Asia and around the South China Sea. It maintained a heavy offensive focus on Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Laos. Targets and victims included ASEAN governmental agencies and government departments, investment enterprises, military, law enforcement and border control organizations, embassies, university faculties and others.

Parts of the campaigns have been publicly discussed according to the nature of their tools. For example, the MsnMM backdoors started out with internal names like “WinMM” and “SslMM”, and their file naming spoofed MSN Talk and Msn Gaming Zone. The backdoor term “naikon” was derived from the User-Agent string “NOKIAN95″. But msnMM, naikon, sakto, and rarstone backdoors are all used by the same actor that we call the Naikon APT. Their second stage tools largely remained unknown.

The Naikon attackers attempted to exfiltrate sensitive geo-political, military, and economic data; to intercept communications and to maintain surveillance on their victims throughout the MsnMM campaigns. Their toolset and techniques changed over time in many minor ways, and appear to be run by Chinese-speaking individuals. The group’s infrastructure, reliant on web apps located mostly via dynamic dns domains, overlapped across these campaigns. As previously described, the APT’s methods and technologies are simple, but highly effective against its targets’ defenses. We do not find 0-days here.

Much of Naikon’s spear-phish and decoy document content, as well as its deployment, coincided approximately with highly-charged geopolitical events. The consistent list of military, economic, and political targets gave away the actor’s interests. Naikon’s earliest campaigns deployed the exe_exchange, winMM, and sys10 backdoors, and the codebase was later built out into more custom tools. The MsnMM campaigns were waged into the start of 2014, and then dropped off before picking up again later in the year and into 2015.

Regarding interaction with other APTs, it’s interesting to note that Naikon APT victims overlap with Cycldek APT victims.  Cycldek is another persistent, but weaker APT. In addition, not only does the APT30 target profile match the Naikon APT, its toolset also features minor but noticeable similarities. And the later Naikon campaigns led to an all out APT v APT confrontation with the Hellsing APT, when “the empire struck back.”

Although aspects of the malware set have been discussed on some blogs and in other papers, there hasn’t been an accurate report bringing together details of the MsnMM, Sys10, and Naikon campaigns as the work of one crew, the Naikon APT. Finally, while this report looks into their past activity, the Naikon APT remains active, deploying a more recent codebase. The top targets for 2015 that we are aware of include organizations in Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos.

The Naikon APT

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 23:00

Our recent report, “The Chronicles of the Hellsing APT: the Empire Strikes Back” began with an introduction to the Naikon APT, describing it as “One of the most active APTs in Asia, especially around the South China Sea”. Naikon was mentioned because of its role in what turned out to be a unique and surprising story about payback. It was a Naikon attack on a Hellsing-related organization that first introduced us to the Hellsing APT.  Considering the volume of Naikon activity observed and its relentless, repeated attack attempts, such a confrontation was worth looking into, so we did.

The #NaikonAPT group was spear-phished by an actor we now call "Hellsing"

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The Naikon APT aligns with the actor our colleagues at FireEye recently revealed to be APT30, but we haven’t discovered any exact matches. It is hardly surprising that there is an element of overlap, considering both actors have for years mined victims in the South China Sea area, apparently in search of geo-political intelligence.

The #NaikonAPT group has for 5 years mined victims, apparently in search of geo-political intelligence

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This Naikon report will be complemented by a follow-on report that will examine the Naikon TTP and the incredible volume of attack activity around the South China Sea that has been going on since at least 2010.

Noteworthy operational and logistical characteristics of this APT include:

  • At least five years of high volume, high profile,  geo-political attack activity
  • Geographical  focus – per-country, individual operator assignment and proxy presence
  • Dynamic, well organized infrastructure
  • Reliance on an externally developed, consistent set of tools comprising a full-featured backdoor, a builder, and an exploit builder
  • High success rate in infiltrating national organisations in ASEAN countries
Highly Focused and Effective Around the South China Sea

In the spring of 2014, we noticed an increase in the volume of attack activity by the Naikon APT. The attackers appeared to be Chinese-speaking and targeted mainly top-level government agencies and civil and military organizations in countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Laos and China.

Decoy

An attack typically starts with an email carrying an attachment that contains information of interest to the potential victim. The document may be based on information from open sources or on proprietary information stolen from other compromised systems.

This bait “document”, or email attachment, appears to be a standard Word document, but is in fact an CVE-2012-0158 exploit, an executable with a double extension, or an executable with an RTLO filename, so it can execute code without the user’s knowledge or consent. When the executable is launched, spyware is installed on the victim computer at the same time as a decoy document is displayed to the user; fooling them into thinking they have simply opened a document.

Configuration

The Naikon tool of choice generates a special, small, encrypted file which is 8,000 bytes in size, containing code to be injected into the browser along with configuration data. With the help of a start-up module, this whole file is injected into the browser memory and decrypts the configuration block containing the following:

  • C&C server
  • Ports and path to the server
  • User-agent string
  • Filenames and paths to its components
  • Hash sums of the user API functions

The same code then downloads its main body from the C&C server using the SSL protocol, loads it independently from the operating system functions and, without saving it to the hard drive, hands over control to the XS02 function. All functionality is handled in memory.

Payload

The main module is a remote administration utility. Using SSL, the module establishes a reverse connection to the C&C server as follows: it sets up an outgoing connection to the C&C server and checks if there is a command that it should execute. If there is, it executes the command and returns the result to the C&C. There are 48 commands in the module’s repertoire, which a remote operator can use to effectively control the victim computer. This includes taking a complete inventory, downloading and uploading data, installing add-on modules, or working with the command line.

The main module supports 48 commands, which the attackers can use to control the victim machine #NaikonAPT

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Here is the complete list of commands:

0 CMD_MAIN_INFO 1 CMD_PROCESS_REFRESH 2 CMD_PROCESS_NAME 3 CMD_PROCESS_KILL 4 CMD_PROCESS_MODULE 5 CMD_DRIVE_REFRESH 6 CMD_DIRECTORY 7 CMD_DIRECTORY_CREATE 8 CMD_DIRECTORY_CREATE_HIDDEN 9 CMD_DIRECTORY_DELETE 10 CMD_DIRECTORY_RENAME 11 CMD_DIRECOTRY_DOWNLOAD 12 CMD_FILE_REFRESH 13 CMD_FILE_DELETE 14 CMD_FILE_RENAME 15 CMD_FILE_EXECUTE_NORMAL 16 CMD_FILE_EXECUTE_HIDDEN 17 CMD_FILE_EXECUTE_NORMAL_CMD 18 CMD_FILE_EXECUTE_HIDDEN_CMD 19 CMD_FILE_UPLOAD 20 CMD_FILE_DOWNLOAD 21 CMD_WINDOWS_INFO 22 CMD_WINDOWS_MESSAGE 23 CMD_SHELL_OPEN 24 CMD_SHELL_CLOSE 25 CMD_SHELL_WRITE 26 CMD_SERVICE_REFRESH 27 CMD_SERVICE_CONTROL 28 CMD_PROGRAM_INFO 29 CMD_UNINSTALL_PROGRAM 30 CMD_REGESTRY_INFO 31 CMD_ADD_AUTO_START 32 CMD_MY_PLUGIN 33 CMD_3RD_PLUGIN 34 CMD_REG_CREATEKEY 35 CMD_REG_DELETEKEY 36 CMD_REG_SETVALUE 37 CMD_REG_DELETEVALUE 38 CMD_SELF_KILL 39 CMD_SELF_RESTART 40 CMD_SELF_CONFIG 41 CMD_SELF_UPDATE 42 CMD_SERVER_INFO 43 CMD_INSTALL_SERVICE 44 CMD_FILE_DOWNLOAD2 45 CMD_RESET 46 CMD_CONNECTION_TABLE 50 CMD_HEART_BEAT

Several modifications of the main module exist. There are no fundamental differences between modifications; it’s just that extra features get added to the latest versions, such as compression and encryption of transmitted data, or the piecemeal download of large files.

d085ba82824c1e61e93e113a705b8e9a 118272 Aug 23 18:46:57 2012 b4a8dc9eb26e727eafb6c8477963829c 140800 May 20 11:56:38 2013 172fd9cce78de38d8cbcad605e3d6675 118784 Jun 13 12:14:40 2013 d74a7e7a4de0da503472f1f051b68745 190464 Aug 19 05:30:12 2013 93e84075bef7a11832d9c5aa70135dc6 154624 Jan 07 04:39:43 2014 CC-Proxy-Op

C&C server operations are characterized by the following:

  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Organized geo-specific task assignments
  • Different approaches to communication

The C&C servers must have required only a few operators to manage the entire network. Each operator appears to have focused on their own particular set of targets, because a correlation exists between C&C and the location of targets/victims.

There is a geo-specific correlation between the location of #NaikonAPT C&Cs and that of targets/victims

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Communication with victim systems changed depending on the target involved. In some cases, a direct connection was established between the victim computer and the C&C. In other cases, the connection was established via dedicated proxy servers installed on dedicated servers rented in third countries. In all likelihood, this additional setup was a reaction to the network administrators in some targets limiting or monitoring outbound network connections from their organizations.

Here is a partial list of C&C servers and victim locations, demonstrating the geo-specific correlation:

ID Jakarta linda.googlenow.in ID Jakarta admin0805.gnway.net ID Jakarta free.googlenow.in ID frankhere.oicp.net ID Bandung frankhere.oicp.net ID Bandung telcom.dhtu.info ID Jakarta laotel08.vicp.net JP Tokyo greensky27.vicp.net KH googlemm.vicp.net KH Phnom Penh googlemm.vicp.net MM peacesyou.imwork.net MM sayakyaw.xicp.net MM ubaoyouxiang.gicp.net MM Yangon htkg009.gicp.net MM kyawthumyin.xicp.net MM myanmartech.vicp.net MM test-user123.vicp.cc MY us.googlereader.pw MY net.googlereader.pw MY lovethai.vicp.net MY yahoo.goodns.in MY Putrajaya xl.findmy.pw MY Putrajaya xl.kevins.pw PH Caloocan oraydns.googlesec.pw PH Caloocan gov.yahoomail.pw PH pp.googledata.pw PH xl.findmy.pw PH mlfjcjssl.gicp.net PH o.wm.ggpw.pw PH oooppp.findmy.pw PH cipta.kevins.pw PH phi.yahoomail.pw SG Singapore xl.findmy.pw SG Singapore dd.googleoffice.in VN Hanoi moziliafirefox.wicp.net VN Hanoi bkav.imshop.in VN Hanoi baomoi.coyo.eu VN Dong Ket macstore.vicp.cc VN Hanoi downloadwindows.imwork.net VN Hanoi vietkey.xicp.net VN Hanoi baomoi.vicp.cc VN Hanoi downloadwindow.imwork.net VN Binh Duong www.ttxvn.net VN Binh Duong vietlex.gnway.net VN Hanoi www.ttxvn.net VN Hanoi us.googlereader.pw VN Hanoi yahoo.goodns.in VN Hanoi lovethai.vicp.net VN Hanoi vietlex.gnway.net XSControl – the Naikon APT’s “victim management software”

In the Naikon scheme, a C&C server can be specialized XSControl software running on the host machine. It can be used to manage an entire network of infected clients. In some cases, a proxy is used to tunnel victim traffic to the XSControl server. A Naikon proxy server is a dedicated server that accepts incoming connections from victim computers and redirects them to the operator’s C&C. An individual Naikon proxy server can be set up in any target country with traffic tunnelling from victim systems to the related C&C servers

XSControl is written in .NET with the use of DevExpress:


Its main capabilities are:

  • Accept initial connections from clients
  • Provide clients with the main remote administration module
  • Enable them to remotely administer infected computers with the help of a GUI
  • Keep logs of client activity
  • Keep logs of operator activity
  • Upload logs and files to an FTP server

The operator’s activity logs contain the following:

  • An XML database of downloaded files, specifying the time of operation, the remote path and the local path
  • A database of file names, the victim computer registry keys for the folders and requested sections
  • A history of executed commands
Country X, Operator X

Now let’s do an overview of one Naikon campaign, focusing on country “X”.

Analysis revealed that the cyber-espionage campaign against country X had been going on for many years. Computers infected with the remote control modules provided attackers with access to employees’ corporate email and internal resources, and access to personal and corporate email content hosted on external services.

Below is a partial list of organizations affected by Naikon’s “operator X’s” espionage campaign in country X.

  • Office of the President
  • Military Forces
  • Office of the Cabinet Secretary
  • National Security Council
  • Office of the Solicitor General
  • Intelligence Services
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • Department of Justice
  • Federal Police
  • Executive/Presidential Administration and Management Staff

A few of these organizations were key targets and under continuous, real-time monitoring. It was during operator X’s network monitoring that the attackers placed Naikon proxies within the countries’ borders, to cloak and support real-time outbound connections and data exfiltration from high-profile victim organizations.

In order to obtain employees’ credentials, operator X sometimes used keyloggers. If necessary, operator X delivered them via the remote control client. In addition to stealing keystrokes, this attacker also intercepted network traffic. Lateral movements included copying over and remotely setting up winpcap across desktop systems within sensitive office networks, then remotely setting up AT jobs to run these network sniffers. Some APTs like Naikon distribute tools such as these across multiple systems in order to regain control if it is lost accidentally and to maintain persistence.

The #NaikonAPT group took advantage of cultural idiosyncrasies in its target countries

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Operator X also took advantage of cultural idiosyncrasies in its target countries, for example, the regular and widely accepted use of personal Gmail accounts for work. So it was not difficult for the Naikon APT to register similar-looking email addresses and to spear-phish targets with attachments, links to sites serving malware, and links to google drive.

The empire strikes back

Every once in a while the Naikon group clashes with other APT groups that are also active in the region. In particular, we noticed that the Naikon group was spear-phished by an actor we now call “Hellsing”. More details about the cloak and dagger games between Naikon and Hellsing can be found in our blogpost: “The Chronicles of the Hellsing APT: The Empire Strikes Back“.

Spam and Phishing in the First Quarter of 2015

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 08:00

Spam: features of the quarter New domain zones

In January 2014 the New gTLD program of registration for new generic top-level domains designated for certain types of communities and organizations was launched. The main advantage of this program is the opportunity for organizations to choose a domain zone that is clearly consistent with their activities and the themes of their sites. The new business opportunities provided by the New gTLD program were enthusiastically endorsed by the Internet community, and active registration of new domain names is still ongoing.

Spammers and cybercriminals were quick to react: for them new domains are an excellent tool for promoting illegitimate campaigns. As a result, new domain zones almost immediately became an arena for the large-scale distribution of advertising spam, phishing and malicious emails. Cybercriminals either registered domains to spread spam mass mailings, hacked existing sites to place spam pages, or used these and other web resources in chains that redirect users to spam sites.

According to our observations, email traffic in Q1 2015 saw a considerable increase in the number of new domains that sent out spam of different content. In general there wasn’t much connection between the theme of the spam and the domain name, but in some cases there was an evident logical connection between them. For example, emails sent from the .work domains contained offers to carry out various types of work such as household maintenance, construction or equipment installation. Many of the messages from the .science domains were advertising schools that offer distance learning, colleges to train nurses, criminal lawyers and other professionals.

Q1’s spam traffic also featured many emails sent from color domains like .pink, .red, or .black. Basically they were used to advertise Asian dating sites. At the same time, the top-level domains used in mass mailings exploiting the dating theme were generally empty and did not contain any content related to this subject. They were only used in the chain of redirects leading to the main sites. It should also be noted that the first-level domains of the main sites were created recently and are constantly changing, in contrast with their content, which is still designed according to the same typical spam patterns.

The second- and lower-level domains in such messages are usually generated automatically and appear in the form of a random combination of alphanumeric characters. Meanwhile we are still seeing well-known .com, .org, .info, etc. used as domain zones as well as ones from the New gTLD program.

New domains, old themes

As for spam categories on new domains and Q1 spam in general insurance was one of the hottest topics, both in terms of the number of messages and the number of changing domains seen in mass mailings. This covers all types of insurance – life, health, property, cars, animals, and funeral insurance. Spam offering insurance services used newly-created top-level domains as well as compromised or expired ones. And even though the domains were new, spammers continued to use their old tricks, for example, they substituted domains of well-known organizations such as @ amazon.com or @ ebay.com in the From field.

The emails we came across generally followed the same template:

  • very little text (the email generally contains a typical header consisting of several words which is exactly repeated in the body of the message)
  • one or more links which load a brightly decorated picture (sometimes in parts) with all the necessary advertising data (a more detailed advertising text plus contacts: website address, phone number, company name)
  • another long link that leads to a resource that corresponds to the content of the email
  • additional ‘white noise’ text to bulk out the email

The latter consists of random phrases or single words in any language which may not be the same as the language of the mass mailing. This text is generally invisible to the reader of the email as it is written in white or pale color on a standard white background. This technique is used in many types of mass mailing.

The source code of a page containing a random set of words to ‘noise’ an email

Spammer tricks

To bypass antispam filtering scammers often noise emails with the large pieces of text written in white lettering on a standard white background to create the illusion of a non-spam text message.

In Q1 spammers exploited yet another technique, deliberating distorting spammer site addresses by writing them separately or adding extra characters. At the same time the message text always contained the name of a second-level domain where the spammer site is hosted, as well as instructions about how to use it with the domain zone: for example, “remove all the extra characters, and copy to the address bar” or “enter in the address bar without spaces”. In fact, the addressee of the email is encouraged to create the address of spam site of his own and enter it in the address bar.

Macros in malicious spam

Spam is getting more and more dangerous for Internet users. Cybercriminals are coming up with new tricks and are also reverting to the well-known but now forgotten methods. Thus, in the first quarter of 2015 the fraudsters used spam to distributed macro viruses, programs written in the macro languages built into data processing systems (text and graphic editors, spreadsheets, etc.).

In the Q1 2015 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro.ink was the malicious program most often distributed via email

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Malicious emails contained attachments with a .doc or .xls extension. These launched the VBA script when the attachment was opened. This script downloaded and installed other malicious programs, such as the banking Trojan Cridex, in the system. The micro viruses registered by Kaspersky Lab belong to the Trojan downloaders: Trojan-Downloader.MSExcel.Agent, Trojan-Downloader.MSWord.Agent and Trojan-Downloader.VBS.Agent.

Basically, malicious attachments imitated various financial documents: notifications of a fine or a money transfer, unpaid bills, payments, orders and complaints, e-tickets, etc.

Among these fraudulent notifications were fake messages written on behalf of public services, stores, hotel, airlines and other well-known organizations.

One interesting example of a fake notification was the confirmation of payment sent allegedly on behalf of the employee of the leading British supplier of water coolers for offices. The design of the fake message was a perfect imitation of an official email containing full contact details, logos and legitimate links.

Earlier this year, we came across a mass mailing that contained malicious attachments in Microsoft Word or Excel. Instead of the promised detailed information, the attachment contained a Trojan downloader (Trojan-Downloader.MSExcel.Agent or Trojan-Downloader.MSWord.Agent) that downloaded and ran other malicious software. The emails in the mass mailing were based on a single template; only the sender address and the amount of money specified in the subject and the body of the message varied.

The content of the document with a macro virus may look like a set of random characters similar to an incorrect display of coding. Fraudsters use this technique as a pretext: under the pretense of correcting the coding they tried to convince their potential victims to enable macros because back in 2007 Microsoft disabled the automatic activation of macros in files for safety reasons.

In addition to the mass mailings in which the malicious script had been inserted as macros we came across emails in which the script had been inserted as an object. The authors of one of these emails informed recipients they should pay a debt within a week or face legal action that would bring additional financial expenses.

The attached file was also in Microsoft Word while the malicious VBS script (according to the Kaspersky Lab verdict – Trojan-Downloader.VBS.Agent.all) had been inserted into it as an object. To deceive the user the inserted script was displayed as an Excel file: the scammers used the icon of this program and added.xls to the name of the file.

The first macro virus was registered in August 1995 in MS Word “Concept” documents and quickly infected tens of thousands of computers around the world. Despite its 20-year history, this type of malware is still popular largely due to the fact that the VBA language developed to create macros is one of the most simple and accessible, but at the same time functional, programming languages.

The Top 3 countries most often targeted by mailshots: Great Britain, Brazil and USA

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Most macro viruses are active not only when opening or closing the infected file but as long as the user is working with the editor (text or table). Macro viruses constitute a threat because they infect not only the initially opened file but any other files that are directly addressed.

The active distribution of macro viruses via email is aided by the simplicity with which they can be created and by the fact that users are constantly working with text and spreadsheet applications – often without being aware of the potential danger of macro viruses.

Malicious email attachments

Top 10 malicious programs sent by email, first quarter of 2015

In the first quarter of 2015 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro.ink was the malicious program most often distributed via email, according to our ranking. This downloader, which was as low as the sixth position in last year’s ranking, is a CPL applet (a Control Panel component) that downloads Trojans designed to steal confidential financial information. Most malicious programs of this type are aimed at Brazilian and Portuguese banks.

Next came Trojan-Spy.HTML.Fraud.gen. As we have written before, this program is a fake HTML page which is sent via email, imitating an important notification from a large commercial bank, an online store, a software developer, etc.

In Q1 2015, the proportion of spam in email traffic was 59.2%, which is 6 p.p. lower than in the previous quarter

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Trojan-Downloader.HTML.Agent.aax and Trojan.HTML.Redirector.ci are in fourth and seventh positions respectively. Both are HTML pages which, when opened by users, redirect them to a rigged site. There, a victim is usually faced with a phishing page or is offered to download Binbot — a binary option trading bot, which has lately been popular on the net. The two malicious programs spread via email attachments and only difference between them is the link which redirects users to rigged sites.

Sixth comes Trojan.Win32.VBKrypt.sbds. It is just a common Trojan downloader designed to download a malicious file to the victim’s computer and run it.

Eighth and ninth places are occupied by downloaders from the Upatre family – Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Upatre.fbq и Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Upatre.fca, respectively, which are usually disguised as PDF or RTF documents. Their main task is to download, unpack and run additional applications.

It should be noted that if popular malware families rather than specific malicious programs are ranked, Upatre heads the Q1 rating. In most cases, malware from the Upatre family downloads the Dyre (aka Dyreza, Dyzap) banker, as a result of which this family also leads our rating of most widespread banking threats.

The Andromeda family, which headed last year’s rating, moved down to second position in Q1 2015. As we have mentioned before, these malicious programs allow cybercriminals to secretly control infected computers, which are often made part of a botnet.

The MSWord.Agent family occupies third position in the Top 10. These malicious programs are.doc files with an embedded macro written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which runs on opening the document. It downloads and runs other malware, such as malicious programs from the Andromeda family.

In the Q1 2015 the USA remained the biggest source of spam, sending 14.5% of all unwanted mail

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Malware from the ZeuS/Zbot family, which are among the most popular and readily available programs used to steal banking information and therefore users’ money, came only seventh in Q1.

Countries targeted by malicious mailshots

Distribution of email antivirus verdicts by country, Q1 2015

In the first quarter, there were major changes in the Top 3 countries most often targeted by mailshots. Brazil unexpectedly moved up to second place with 7.44% (compared to 3.55% in 2014), pushing Germany down in the ranking. Britain tops the rating (7.85%). The USA is in the third place (7.18%). Germany, which headed the rating for a long time, dropped to fourth position (6.05%).

It is also worth mentioning Australia: it climbed to sixth place in the first quarter with 4.12%.

As for Russia, on the one hand, it dropped two positions in the rating (from 8th to 10th), but on the other hand, the percentage of malicious programs targeting the territory of Russia increased in Q1 (from 3.24% in 2014 to 3 36% in the first quarter of 2015).

Statistics Proportion of spam in email traffic

Proportion of spam in email traffic, October 2014 – March 2015

In Q1 2015, the proportion of spam in email traffic was 59.2%, which is 6 percentage points lower than in the previous quarter. The share of spam gradually decreased: the largest amount of spam was sent in January (61.68%) and the smallest in March (56.17%).

Spam sources by country

Countries that were sources of spam, Q1 2015

In the first quarter of 2015 the USA remained the biggest source of spam, sending 14.5% of all unwanted mail. Russia was in second place with 7.27%. Ukraine came third with 5.56% of the world’s spam.

Vietnam (4.82%), China (4.51%) and Germany (4.39%) followed the leaders of the rating. India brought up the rear in the Top 10 with 2.83% of all spam distributed worldwide.

Spam email size

Spam email size distribution, Q4 2014 and Q1 2015

The distribution of spam emails by size remained stable. The leaders were very small emails of up to 2 KB (73.99%), which are easy to handle in mass mailings. The proportion of such emails decreased by 3.28 percentage points.

The proportion of emails in the size range of 2 KB — 5 KB increased by 5.4 percentage points, reaching 16.00%, while the percentage of spam in the 5-10 KB range decreased by 2.28 percentage points to 2.20%. The share of emails sized 10-20 KB saw hardly changed from the previous quarter.

Phishing

In the first quarter of 2015, the Anti-Phishing system was triggered 50,077,057 times on computers of Kaspersky Lab users. This is 1 million times more than in the previous quarter.

For several quarters in a row, the largest percentage of users affected by phishing attacks was in Brazil, although in Q1 of 2015 the number (18.28%) was down by 2.74 percentage points.

Geography of phishing attacks*, Q1 2015

* Number of users on whose computers the Anti-Phishing system was triggered as  a percentage of the total number of Kaspersky Lab users in the country

Top 10 countries by percentage of users attacked:

  Country % of users 1 Brazil 18.28 2 India 17.73 3 China 14.92 4 Kazakhstan 11.68 5 Russia 11.62 6 UAE 11.61 7 Australia 11.18 8 France 10.93 9 Canada 10.66 10 Malaysia 10.40

There was a noticeable increase in the proportion of users attacked in India (+1.8 pp). At the same time, we registered a slight decrease in the number of users attacked in Russia (-0.57 pp), Australia (-2.22 pp) and France (-2.78 pp).

Organisations under attack

The statistics on phishing attack targets are based on the heuristic component of the Anti-Phishing system being triggered. The heuristic component of Anti-Phishing is triggered when the user follows a link to a phishing page information on which is not yet included in Kaspersky Lab databases, regardless of the way in which the page was reached – as a result of clicking on a link in a phishing email, a message on a social network or, for example, as a result of a malicious program’s operation. When the component is triggered, it displays a banner in the browser, warning the user of a possible threat.

Although the share of the “Email and search portals” category in the rating of organizations attacked by phishers diminished considerably in Q3 2014, the category (25.66%) still occupies the top position in the rating in 2015. The share of this category increased by a mere 0.40 percentage points from Q4 2014.

Distribution of organizations affected by phishing attacks, Q1 2015.

In the first quarter of 2015 the share of “Online shops” (9.68%) increased by 2.78 pp. Although the percentage of the “Online games” category (3.40%) rose by 0.54 percentage points, it yielded its place to the “IMS” category (3.92%), which saw its share grow by 1.69 pp.

In Q1 2015, we included a new category, “Delivery companies”, in our rating. Despite the fact that currently the contribution of this category is only 0.23%, it has recently demonstrated a growth (+0.04). In addition, DHL, one of the companies in this category, was among the Top 100 organizations most often attacked by phishers.

Distribution of phishing attacks on delivery companies, Q1 2015

In a number of emails the scammers offer users to purchase goods with delivery provided by a well-known logistics company. If you agree, they require an advance payment for delivery and provide fake invoices with the logo of the relevant delivery company. Having received the money, the fraudsters disappear.

Additionally, phishing messages sent on behalf of logistics firms often contain malicious attachments. Generally, an email includes a delivery notice; to receive the goods the recipients are expected either to open the attachment, which turns out to be malicious, or to go to the website and enter their personal data. The latter method is used to collect valid email addresses and other personal information of users.

Phishing email sent on behalf of FedEx

Phishing page imitating a DHL personal account login page

Phishing page imitating UPS personal account login page

Phishing page imitating FedEx personal account login page

Top 3 organizations attacked

The Top 3 organizations most often attacked by phishers remained the same as in the last quarter of 2014.

  Organization % of phishing links 1 Facebook 10.97 2 Google 8.11 3 Yahoo! 5.21

The top three organizations targeted by phishers are Facebook (+0.63 pp), Google (+1.51 pp) and Yahoo! (5.21%). The percentage of attacks on the latter continues to slowly decrease (-1.37 pp).

Conclusion

The share of spam in email traffic in the first quarter of 2015 was 59.2%, which is 6 percentage points less than in the previous quarter. The percentage of spam gradually declined during the quarter.

Spam traffic in Q1 of 2015 included a large number of mass mailings with Microsoft Word or Excel attachments containing macro viruses. Fraudsters tried to lure users into opening malicious files by disguising them as various documents, including financial. The fake messages often imitated notifications from well-known organizations and services.

In Q1 of 2015 the results of the New gTLD program of registration for new generic top-level domains launched in 2014 became especially noticeable. The new domains are registered daily but not always for legitimate purposes. We expect further growth in the number of new top-level domains used in mass mailings. The increase in the volume of mass mailings sent from new domains which have evident logical connection between the type of goods and services advertised and the domain name is also possible, although this can hardly be considered a trend.

The three leading source countries for spam sent across the world are the USA (14.5%), Russia (7.27%) and Ukraine (5.56%).

In the Q1 2015 the Anti-Phishing system was triggered more than 50 mln times

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In the first quarter of 2015 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro.ink was the malicious program most often distributed via email, according to our ranking. The Upatre downloaders, which are used to download the Trojan banker Dyre/Dyreza, became the most popular malware family of Q1. Britain tops the rating of countries most often targeted by mailshots with 7.85% of all mail antivirus detections.

In Q1 2015, the Anti-Phishing system was triggered on the computers of Kaspersky Lab users 50,077,057 times. The largest percentage of users affected by phishing attacks was in Brazil.

Microsoft security updates May 2015

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 19:40

Microsoft released a set of thirteen Security Bulletins (MS015-043 through MS015-055) to start off May 2015, addressing 46 vulnerabilities in a wide set of Microsoft software technologies. Three of these are rated critical for RCE and the rest of the May 2015 Security Bulletins are rated Important. Two of the critical Bulletins (043 and 044) are especially risky and address critical RCE vulnerabilities across all versions of supported Windows platforms.

  • Internet Explorer (MS015-043) critical
  • GDI+ drivers handling fonts (MS015-044) critical
  • Windows Journal (MS015-045) critical
  • Microsoft Office
  • Sharepoint Server
  • Silverlight
  • .NET Framework
  • JScript and VBScript Scripting Engines
  • MMC file format
  • Schannel (Microsoft’s network crypto libraries)

Most likely, your Windows systems are running at least a couple of those software packages, and will require a reboot after updating.

This round of IE memory corruption vulnerabilities enable remote code execution across all versions of the browser and supported Windows OS, IE6 – IE11. Even Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1 maintains the flawed code, leading many to anticipate Microsoft’s new approach to web browser security in the upcoming Microsoft Edge: Building a safer browser.

Another issue enables RCE in Windows Journal, a note-taking application first written for XP Tablet associated with .jnt files. To disable the app, it seems that you can simply disable the “Tablet PC Options Components” Windows Feature on Vista or Windows 7, but you are without the Control Panel option on Windows 8.x. On Windows 8 and above systems, it looks like you can remove the .jnt file association in the registry, or, you can deny access to journal.exe with a couple of shell commands:

takeown.exe /f “%ProgramFiles%\Windows Journal\Journal.exe”
icacls.exe %ProgramFiles%\Windows Journal\Journal.exe” /deny everyone:(F)

And finally, another couple of font handling GDI+ vulnerabilities are patched, this time in the DirectWrite library handling for both OpenType (cve-2015-1670) and TrueType (cve-2015-1671) fonts. It’s 1671 that enables RCE on Windows systems running SilverLight, Lync, Live Meeting, Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010, supported .Net framework versions, and all the supported Windows operating system versions, including Windows 2008 and 2012 R2 Server Core. Depending on your OS, the patches can touch on a set of files, not just win32k.sys driver code:

Win32k.sys
Gdiplus.dll
D2d1.dll
Fntcache.dll
Dwrite.dll
D3d10level9.dll
D3d10_1.dll
D3d10_1core.dll
D3d10warp.dll

According to Microsoft, “When this security bulletin was issued, Microsoft had not received any information to indicate that this vulnerability had been publicly used to attack customers”. Which may be mincing words, because Microsoft’s cve-2015-1671 vulnerability acknowledgement listed the Threat Research Manager at FireEye. That disclosure detail may add urgency to updating this vulnerability for some organizations.

How to mitigate 85% of threats with only four strategies

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 07:00

The Australian Signals Directorate Top35 list of mitigation strategies shows us that at least 85% of intrusions could have been mitigated by following the top four mitigation strategies together. These are: application whitelisting, updating applications, updating operating systems and restricting administrative privileges. Kaspersky Lab has technological solutions to cover the first three of these (i.e. all the technology-based strategies) as well as the most of the others from Top35 ASD’s list.

Many respected technology-focused organizations have already developed strategies for coping with targeted attacks. Gartner, for example, has issued guidelines for dealing with social engineering techniques, including keeping pace with an evolving threat landscape through ongoing information security education1. While no ICT infrastructure can ever be 100% secure, there are reasonable steps every organization can take to significantly reduce the risk of a cyber-intrusion.

Among all the available strategies, here at Kaspersky Lab we consider the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) document to be the best publicly available guidelines from a government organization on how to successfully fight APTs. But we don’t just like this list of strategies; we also want to make sure that Kaspersky Lab technologies cover as many of them as possible. Please check the list below.  Bear in mind, of course, that not all technologies have something in common with security software:

The Australia’s Signals Directorate’s full Mitigation Strategies list comprises 35 points.

This list of mitigation strategies can be roughly divided into four logical types, according to the implementation approach:

Measures Brief description Administrative Training, physical security Networking These measures are easier to  implement at  a network hardware level System administration The OS contains everything needed for implementation Specialized security solutions Specialized security software is applicable

Through comprehensive, detailed analysis of local attacks and threats, ASD has found that at least 85 per cent of the targeted cyber-intrusions it responds to could be mitigated by four basic strategies. Three of them are related to specialized security solutions. Kaspersky Lab products include technological solutions to cover these first three major strategies:

  • Use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
  • Patch applications such as Java, PDF viewers, Flash, web browsers and Microsoft Office
  • Patch operating system vulnerabilities
  • Restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications, based on user duties2.

In addition, over half of the ASD list could be implemented using our specialized information security solutions. Take a look at the strategies (those related to specialized security solutions) mapped to Kaspersky Lab technologies. We have highlighted the ones that ASD believes account for 85% mitigation:

ASD rank Mitigation strategy, short name Kaspersky Lab technologies 1 Application whitelisting Dynamic whitelisting 2 Patching application vulnerabilities Vulnerability Assessment and Patch Management 3 Patching OS vulnerabilities 5 User application configuration hardening Web control (blocking scripts in web-browsers) , Web Anti-Virus 6 Automated dynamic analysis of email and web content Mail Anti-Virus and Web Anti-Virus, Security for Mail Server, Security for Internet Gateway, DLP for Mail and Collaboration add-ons 7 OS generic exploit mitigation Automatic Exploit Prevention 8 HIDS/HIPS System Watcher and Application Privilege Control 12 Software-based application firewall for incoming traffic Advanced Firewall 13 Software-based application firewall for outgoing traffic Advanced Firewall 15 Computer event logging Kaspersky Security Center 16 Network activity logging Kaspersky Security Center 17 E-mail content filtering Kaspersky Security for Mail Sever 18 Web content filtering Web Control 19 Web domain whitelisting Web Control 20 Block spoofed e-mails Anti-Spam 22 AV software using heuristics and automated Internet-based reputation ratings Anti-Malware 26 Removable and portable media control Device Control 29 Workstation inspection of Microsoft Office files Anti-Malware 30 Signature-based AV software Anti-Malware

ASD Strategies that can be implemented effectively using Kaspersky Lab’s product range.

For more detailed data about ASD strategies please consult the mitigation strategies document in the Securelist encyclopedia: part 1, part 2 and part 3. We hope that this information will be useful for system administrators, CIO/CISOs and researchers fighting targeted cyber intrusions.

1 Gartner: Best Practice for Mitigating Advanced Persistent Threats (document ID G00256438). >>>
2 Australian Signals Directorate, Strategies to Mitigate Targeted Cyber Intrusions >>>

IT threat evolution in Q1 2015

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 06:00

Q1 in figures
  • According to KSN data, Kaspersky Lab products detected and neutralized a total of 2,205,858,791 malicious attacks on computers and mobile devices in the first quarter of 2015.
  • Kaspersky Lab solutions repelled 469,220,213 attacks launched from online resources located all over the world.
  • Kaspersky Lab’s web antivirus detected 28,483,783 unique malicious objects: scripts, exploits, executable files, etc.
  • 93,473,068 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus components.
  • 40% of web attacks neutralized by Kaspersky Lab products were carried out using malicious web resources located in Russia.
  • Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus solutions detected a total of 253,560,227 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
  • Kaspersky Lab mobile security products detected
    • 147,835 installation packages;
    • 103,072 new malicious mobile programs;
    • 1,527 mobile banking Trojans.
Overview Equation APT – the most sophisticated attacks

The story of the powerful Equation cyberespionage group was perhaps the most talked-about news story of Q1. The group has interacted with other influential groups, such as Stuxnet and Flame, for many years. Attacks carried out by Equation are arguably the most sophisticated of all: one of the group’s modules can be used to modify hard drive firmware. Since 2001, Equation has successfully infected the computers of thousands of victims in Iran, Russia, Syria, Afghanistan, the US and other countries. Its victims come from sectors such as government and diplomatic institutions, telecommunications, energy, etc.

The group uses a variety of malware, some of which is even more sophisticated than the infamous Regin platform. Known methods of dissemination and infection include using the Fanny USB worm (its arsenal included two zero-day vulnerabilities that were later used in Stuxnet), malicious installers on CDROMs, and web exploits.

Carbanak – the most successful cyber campaign

In spring 2014, Kaspersky Lab got involved in a forensic investigation: a bank’s ATMs dispensed cash without the recipient physically interacting with the ATM. This was the start of our investigation into the Carbanak campaign and an analysis of the eponymous malicious program.

Carbanak is a backdoor originally based on Carberp code. It is designed for espionage, data exfiltration and remote control of any computer infected with it. Once the attackers were inside the victim´s network, they performed a reconnaissance of that network with a view to performing lateral movement and compromising critically important systems – processing systems, accounting systems and ATMs.

Kaspersky Lab products detected a total of 2.2 bln malicious attacks in the Q1 2015

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Three methods of cashing out have been identified:

  1. via ATMs,
  2. by transferring money to cybercriminals’ accounts using the SWIFT network,
  3. by altering databases to create fake accounts and subsequently using mule services to collect the money.

Infections were carried out using typical APT-style methods – via spearphishing emails with documents containing exploits. The emails were constructed in such a way as to avoid raising suspicions, in some cases coming from the addresses of employees working for the company under attack.

Kaspersky Lab estimates that about 100 financial organizations, most of them in Eastern Europe, have been hit by the group, with total financial losses approaching $1 billion. This makes Carbanak by far the most successful criminal cyber campaign we have ever seen.

Desert Falcons – attacks in the Middle East

While investigating an incident in the Middle East, Kaspersky Lab experts came across the activity of a previously unknown group carrying out targeted attacks. The group was given the name Desert Falcons. It is the first Arabic speaking group seen conducting full-scale cyberespionage operations, and its work is apparently connected with the political situation in the region.

The first signs of Desert Falcons’ activity were seen in 2011 and the first known infections were carried out in 2013. The group’s activity peaked in late 2014 and early 2015. The group’s members are clearly no newbies: they developed Windows and Android malware from scratch; they also skillfully organized attacks which relied on phishing emails, fake websites and fake social network accounts.

Kaspersky Lab solutions repelled 470 mln attacks launched from online resources located all over the world

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The group’s victims are located primarily in Palestine, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. Victims include political activists and leaders, military and governmental organizations, mass media, financial institutions and other organizations. The group has currently claimed more than 3,000 victims; the attackers have succeeded in stealing over a million files and documents.

In addition to highly sophisticated and carefully planned distribution of spear phishing emails designed to infect the victims, Desert Falcons used social engineering on Facebook. The attackers created dedicated accounts to begin communicating with their intended victims, gain their trust and then use the chat facility to send each victim a malicious program disguised as an image. For infections on a bigger scale, the group used posts containing malicious links, created using compromised or fake accounts of political leaders.

Animal Farm APT

In March 2014 the French newspaper Le Monde published an article on a cyberespionage toolset identified by Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). The toolset described was used in the Snowglobe operation, which targeted francophone Canadian media, as well as Greece, France, Norway and some African countries. Based on the results of their analysis, CSEC believed that the operation might have been initiated by French intelligence agencies.

In early 2015, researchers published analyses of some malicious programs (1, 2, 3) that had much in common with Snowglobe. In particular the research identified samples that contained the internal name Babar, which was the same as the name of the program mentioned in the CSEC slides.

Kaspersky Lab's web antivirus detected 28,5 mln unique malicious objects in the Q1 2015

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After analyzing the malicious programs used in this campaign and identifying the connections between them, Kaspersky Lab experts gave the group behind them the name Animal Farm. It was discovered that two of the three zero-day vulnerabilities found by Kaspersky Lab in 2014 and used by cybercriminals in their attacks were present in the group’s arsenal. For example, an attack from the compromised website of the Syrian Ministry of Justice using exploits for CVE-2014-0515 led to an Animal Farm tool, known as Casper, being downloaded.

A curious feature of this campaign is that NBOT – one of the malicious programs used by the group – is designed to conduct DDoS attacks. This functionality is not commonly used by typical APT groups. In addition, one of the malicious ‘animals’ has the strange name of Tafacalou – possibly, a word in Occitan, a language spoken in France and some other places.

Upatre – active distribution of the Dyre/Dyreza banker

Last quarter, the most widespread example of a banker Trojan was Upatre – a downloader for the Dyre financial malware, also known as Dyreza. This banker Trojan first appeared in 2014. It targets users from various financial organizations. It uses a technique designed to bypass SSL protection in order to steal payment information. This malware can also be used as a remote administration tool (RAT), enabling attackers to manually carry out transactions on behalf of online banking users.

The Upatre downloader is delivered to users in spam emails, many of which look like legitimate messages from financial institutions. Banks attacked by the banker Trojan Dyre, which is downloaded by Upatre, include Bank of America, Natwest, Citibank, RBS and Ulsterbank. According to researchers, the bulk of Dyre activity is currently taking place in the UK.

PoSeidon – attacks on PoS terminals

A new banker Trojan which attacks PoS terminals has been detected. PoSeidon scans a PoS system’s memory for payment information stored in plain text and sends any information it finds to the attackers.

Researchers from Cisco Security Solutions have identified three malware components that are probably associated with PoSeidon: a keylogger, a loader and a memory scraper that also has keylogging functionality. The keylogger is designed to steal credentials for the LogMeIn remote access application. It deletes encrypted LogMeIn passwords and profiles that are stored in the system registry in order to force users to type them again. The researchers believe this keylogger is potentially used to steal the remote access credentials that are needed to compromise point-of-sale systems and install PoSeidon.

In the Q1 2015 Kaspersky Lab mobile products detected 103 072 new malicious mobile programs

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Once the PoSeidon attackers get access to a PoS terminal, they install a loader. This component downloads another file called FindStr from the group’s command-and-control (C&C) servers. FindStr is used to find strings that match payment card numbers in the memory of running processes. Curiously, the malware only looks for card numbers that begin with specific digits.

Statistics

All the statistics used in this report were obtained using Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), a distributed antivirus network that works with various anti-malware protection components. The data was collected from KSN users who agreed to provide it. Millions of Kaspersky Lab product users from 213 countries and territories worldwide participate in this global exchange of information about malicious activity.

Mobile threats

Mobile malware is evolving towards monetization – with malware writers trying to render their creations capable of obtaining money and users’ bank data using a variety of techniques.

More and more SMS Trojans are being enhanced with features that enable them to attack victims’ bank accounts. An example of this is Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.OpFake.cc, which can now attack at least 29 banking and financial applications.

Malware writers are also beginning to build ransomware functionality into their SMS Trojans. For example, in order to obtain victims’ bank card data, Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.FakeInst.ep uses techniques typical of ransomware programs: windows opened by the malware cannot be closed without entering the data.

What the user sees is a message, purportedly from Google, demanding that the user opens Google Wallet and goes through the ‘personification’ procedure by entering their credit card details (curiously, one of the justifications given for these actions is the need to combat cybercrime). The window cannot be removed until the victim enters credit card details.

Trojan-Spy programs, like SMS Trojans, are modified so that they can attack victims’ bank accounts. For example, Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.SmsThief.ay is now capable of attacking five different banking and financial applications.

The upshot of this is that the mobile malware used by cybercriminals to hunt for their victims’ money is becoming increasingly versatile. Stealing money from users’ bank accounts by attacking banking applications is now something that can be done not only by dedicated Trojan-Bankers but also by some SMS Trojans and even Trojan-Spies. This may be one of the reasons why relatively few mobile banker Trojans were detected in Q1 2015.

In the Q1 2015 Kaspersky Lab mobile products detected 1,527 mobile banking Trojans

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Overall, mobile malware designed to steal or extort money from users (SMS Trojans, banker Trojans and ransomware Trojans) accounted for 23.2% of new mobile threats in Q1 2015. All three malware types are extremely dangerous and the malware writers’ interest in their victims’ money provides an incentive for their further development and evolution.

New developments from malware writers
  1. Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Binka.d, a banker Trojan, has evolved. Now it can ‘listen in’ to its victim. Sound is recorded using the device’s microphone and written to a file that is transferred to the cybercriminals’ server.
  2. A technique based on patching applications and embedding malicious code into them is now one of the main methods used to distribute Trojans. For example, Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Chyapo.a was embedded in the Unity Launcher Free app. The difference between clean and malicious applications is, in this case, manifested only by a new permission requirement – the malicious app requires access to the handling of incoming SMS messages. Another curious thing about this Trojan was that its command-and-control server was hosted on sites.google.com.
  3. The developers of Podec, an SMS Trojan, have mastered a new distribution technique – through the VKontakte social network. A malicious file was uploaded to the popular social network’s content storage servers.  The Trojan made it into the Top Three malicious mobile programs based on the number of users attacked.
  4. Malware that can actively resist security solutions is not a new technology, but it is gaining in popularity. Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.f, a banker Trojan first detected in Q1, tries to remove the applications of three antivirus vendors: Avast, Eset, and DrWeb.
Mobile threat statistics

In Q1 2015, Kaspersky Lab mobile security products detected 103,072 new malicious mobile programs, a 3.3 fold increase on Q4 2014.

The number of installation packages detected was 147,835 – this is 2.3 times as many as in the previous quarter.

Number of malicious installation packages
and new malicious mobile programs detected (Q3 2014 – Q1 2015)

We have lately seen the ratio of malicious installation packages to new malicious programs diminish. In Q3 2014, there was an average of 6.2 malicious installation packages per malicious program, in Q4 – there were about two installation packages per malicious program. In Q1 2015, the ratio was down to 1.4.

Distribution of mobile malware by type

Distribution of new mobile malware by type, Q1 2015

The ranking of malware objects for mobile devices for the first quarter of 2015 was headed by RiskTool (35.7%). These are legitimate applications that are potentially dangerous for the user – if used carelessly or manipulated by a cybercriminal, they could lead to financial losses.

SMS Trojans came second with 21%. As we wrote in our previous reports, in Q3 2014 the proportion of SMS Trojans to all new mobile threats fell from 22% to 14%. However, this type of malware regained lost ground by the end of 2014. In terms of growth rate, it is in third place: in Q1 2015 the total number of SMS Trojans in our collection increased by 18.7%.

Third place in the rankings was taken by potentially unwanted advertising apps (15.2%). The number of such applications in the overall stream of new mobile threats is gradually declining.

The share of banker Trojans among all the mobile malware first detected in Q1 has significantly declined compared to previous quarters and was down to 1.1%. The number of new mobile bankers in our collection grew by 6.5% during the quarter.

One other thing worth noting is that Trojan-Ransom malware, which has not been in the cybercriminals’ arsenal for very long, demonstrated the highest growth rate of all mobile threats. The number of new samples detected in Q1 was 1,113, resulting in a 65% increase in the number of mobile ransomware samples in our collection. This is a dangerous trend: since malware of this type is designed to extort money, it can damage personal data and block infected devices.

Another type of mobile threat which is showing a high growth rate is spyware (Trojan-Spy). The number of such programs in our collection increased by 35% in the first quarter of 2015.

Top 20 malicious mobile programs   Name % of attacks * 1 DangerousObject.Multi.Generic 10.90% 2 AdWare.AndroidOS.Viser.a 9.20% 3 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Podec.a 7.92% 4 RiskTool.AndroidOS.MimobSMS.a 7.82% 5 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.OpFake.a 6.44% 6 Trojan.AndroidOS.Mobtes.b 6.09% 7 Adware.AndroidOS.MobiDash.a 5.96% 8 Exploit.AndroidOS.Lotoor.be 4.84% 9 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.gc 4.42% 10 AdWare.AndroidOS.Xynyin.a 3.31% 11 AdWare.AndroidOS.Ganlet.a 2.63% 12 Exploit.AndroidOS.Lotoor.a 2.19% 13 AdWare.AndroidOS.Dowgin.l 2.16% 14 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Stealer.a 2.08% 15 AdWare.AndroidOS.Kirko.a 2.04% 16 Trojan.AndroidOS.Rootnik.a 1.82% 17 Trojan.AndroidOS.Pawen.a 1.81% 18 Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Gudex.f 1.75% 19 RiskTool.AndroidOS.SMSreg.dd 1.69% 20 AdWare.AndroidOS.Kemoge.a 1.52%

* Percentage of users attacked by the malware in question, relative to all users attacked

The top position in the rankings was occupied by DangerousObject.Multi.Generic (10.90%). This is how new malicious applications are detected by Kaspersky Security Network cloud technologies, which help our products to significantly shorten the response time to new and unknown threats.

Potentially unwanted advertising applications accounted for seven positions in the rankings, including second place, which was taken by AdWare.AndroidOS.Viser.a (9.2%).

SMS Trojans continue to lose ground in the Top 20 ranking of mobile threats: while in Q4 2014 they had nine positions in the rankings, in Q1 2015 they only had four.

Nevertheless, Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Podec.a (7.92%) has been among the Top Three malicious mobile programs for two quarters in a row due to its active dissemination. As we mentioned above, the malware was uploaded to the file storage servers of VKontakte, Russia’s largest social network. On top of everything else, this Trojan is known to use the most powerful commercial obfuscator available today.

RiskTool malware occupied six positions in the Top 20, with RiskTool.AndroidOS.MimobSMS.a (7.82% of users attacked) ranking fourth.

Mobile banker Trojans

In Q1 2015, we detected 1,527 mobile banker Trojans –a 4.4 fold decline on the previous quarter.

Number of mobile banker Trojans detected (Q1 2014 – Q1 2015)

Geography of mobile banking threats in Q1 2015
(number of users attacked)

96% of attacks involving mobile banker Trojans were against users located in 10 countries.

Top 10 counties attacked by mobile banker Trojans:

  Country % of all attacks* 1 Russia 86.66% 2 Ukraine 2.27% 3 US 2.21% 4 Kazakhstan 1.87% 5 Germany 0.97% 6 Republic of Korea 0.70% 7 Belarus 0.64% 8 UK 0.37% 9 Uzbekistan 0.34% 10 India 0.21%

* Percentage of users attacked per country, relative to all users attacked

Russia retained its traditional top position in the rankings. Ukraine moved up to second place, pushing the US and Kazakhstan down to the third and fourth positions, respectively. Belarus moved two notches down to seventh place.

The geography of mobile threats

In Q1 2015, mobile malicious attacks were detected at least once in 213 countries.

The geography of mobile malware infection attempts in Q1 2015
(percentage of all users attacked)

Top 10 countries attacked by mobile malware:

  Country % of attacks* 1 Russia 41.92% 2 India 7.55% 3 Germany 4.37% 4 Brazil 3.20% 5 Iran 3.12% 6 Kazakhstan 2.88% 7 US 2.84% 8 Ukraine 2.53% 9 Malaysia 2.05% 10 Vietnam 1.87%

*Percentage of users attacked per country, relative to all users attacked

Russia (42%) remained at the top of this ranking, with the other countries lagging far behind. India (7.5%) was in second place.

Vulnerable applications exploited by cybercriminals

The ranking of vulnerable applications below is based on information about the exploits blocked by our products. These exploits were used by cybercriminals in Internet attacks and in attempts to compromise local applications, including those installed on mobile devices.

Distribution of exploits used in attacks by type of application attacked, Q1 2015

The top position in the Q1 2015 rankings was occupied by the Browsers category (64%), which includes exploits targeting Internet Explorer. This category was also at the top of the rankings in the last three quarters of 2014.

In Q1, we saw a significant fall in the number of exploits for Oracle Java (down seven percentage points (p.p.) from Q4 2014). This can be explained by the fact that exploits for these applications were almost completely removed from all exploit packs.

It is worth mentioning the growing number of exploits for Microsoft Office (up two p.p. from Q4 2014) and Adobe Flash Player (up by one p.p.) in Q1 2015.

The increase in the number of malicious flash objects was primarily due to the large number of vulnerabilities discovered in the first quarter of 2015. Virtually all exploit packs now include exploits for Adobe Flash Player vulnerabilities.

Online threats (Web-based attacks)

The statistics in this section were derived from web antivirus components that protect users from attempts to download malicious objects from a malicious/infected website. Malicious websites are created deliberately by malicious users; infected sites include those with user-contributed content (such as forums), as well as compromised legitimate resources.

Online threats in the banking sector

In the first quarter of 2015, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on the computers of 929,082 users. This figure represents a 64.3% increase compared to the previous quarter (565,515).

Number of computers attacked by financial malware (Q1 2015)

Attacks using financial malware are on the rise. Note that there was a sharp increase in the number of such attacks in March 2015.

A total of 5,106,804 notifications of malicious activity by programs designed to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered by Kaspersky Lab security solutions in Q1 2015.

Geography of attacks

Geography of banking malware attacks (Q1 2014)

Top 10 countries by the number of users attacked

  Countries Number of users attacked 1 Brazil 91,893 2 Russia 85,828 3 US 66,699 4 Germany 51,670 5 UK 25,269 6 India 22,085 7 Turkey 21,397 8 Australia 18,997 9 Italy 17,663 10 Spain 17,416

Brazil continued to lead the ranking of countries most affected by banking malware, with the number of attacks increasing by 15% compared to the previous quarter (79,845).

The Top 10 banking malware families

The table below shows the top 10 programs most commonly used to attack online banking users in Q1 2015, based on the number of users attacked:

Name Number of notifications Number of users attacked Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Upatre 3,127,365 349,574 Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot 865,873 182,966 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro 355,735 91,809 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banbra 35,182 16,363 Trojan.Win32.Tinba 94,972 15,719 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Agent 44,640 12,893 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Shiotob 60,868 12,283 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banker 39,728 12,110 Trojan-Spy.Win32.SpyEyes 57,418 9,168 Backdoor.Win32.Papras 56,273 3,062

The vast majority of malicious programs in the Top 10 ranking use a technique based on injecting arbitrary HTML code into the web page displayed by the browser and intercepting payment credentials entered by the user in original and injected web forms.

In the first quarter of 2015, Zeus (Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot), which in 2014 was the most popular malicious program in this category, gave up its top position to Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Upatre. Malicious programs in this family are relatively simple and no larger than 3.5 KB. They usually download a Trojan-Banker belonging to a family known as Dyre/Dyzap/Dyreza. The list of financial institutions attacked by the banker Trojan depends on the configuration file that is downloaded from the command-and-control center.

The third specimen in the banker Trojan Top Three is Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro. This malware spreads via spam emails with online banking-related subject strings (e.g., messages can have “Invoice for online banking” as their subject). A word document with an embedded image is attached to such messages; upon clicking on the image, malicious code is executed.

Financial threats

Financial threats are not limited to banker malware that attacks online banking customers.

Financial malware: distribution by malware type

The second most widespread financial threat in Q1 2015 was Bitcoin wallet theft. Another cryptocurrency-related threat was Bitcoin mining, i.e., using victims’ computers to generate Bitcoins.

Top 20 malicious objects detected online

In the first quarter of 2015, Kaspersky Lab’s web antivirus detected 28,483,783 unique malicious objects: scripts, exploits, executable files, etc.

We identified the 20 most active malicious objects involved in online attacks against users’ computers. These 20 accounted for 95.9% of all attacks on the Internet.

Top 20 malicious objects detected online

  Name* % of all attacks** 1 Malicious URL 37.55% 2 AdWare.JS.Agent.bg 36.06% 3 AdWare.Script.Generic 6.58% 4 Trojan.Script.Iframer 4.49% 5 AdWare.NSIS.AnProt.b 3.83% 6 Trojan.Script.Generic 2.91% 7 AdWare.JS.Agent.an 1.06% 8 AdWare.Win32.Yotoon.bfm 0.81% 9 Trojan.JS.Redirector.ads 0.47% 10 Exploit.Script.Blocker 0.33% 11 AdWare.Win32.Eorezo.eod 0.31% 12 Trojan.Win32.Generic 0.24% 13 Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Generic 0.22% 14 AdWare.Win32.ConvertAd.vo 0.17% 15 Trojan-Downloader.Script.Generic 0.16% 16 AdWare.NSIS.Agent.bx 0.16% 17 AdWare.NSIS.Agent.cv 0.13% 18 AdWare.AndroidOS.Xynyin.a 0.13% 19 AdWare.Win32.Yotoon.heur 0.12% 20 AdWare.Win32.SoftPulse.xvm 0.12%

*These statistics represent the detection verdicts of the web antivirus module. Information was provided by users of Kaspersky Lab products who consented to share their local statistical data.
**The percentage of all web attacks recorded on the computers of unique users.

The Top 20 is largely made up of objects used in drive-by attacks, as well as adware programs. 37.55% of all verdicts fell on links that are included in blacklists.

Top 10 countries where online resources are seeded with malware

The following statistics are based on the physical location of online resources that were used in attacks and blocked by antivirus components (web pages containing redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malware, botnet command-and-control centers, etc.). Any unique host could be the source of one or more web attacks.

In order to determine the geographical source of web-based attacks, domain names were matched up against the actual domain IP addresses, and then the geographical locations of specific IP addresses (GEOIP) were established.

In Q1 2015, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 469,220,213 attacks launched from web resources located in various countries around the world. 90% of notifications on blocked web attacks were triggered by attacks coming from web resources located in 10 countries.

Distribution of web attack sources by country, Q1 2015

This Top 10 ranking typically remains unchanged for extended periods of time. However, Q1 2015 saw a change of leader. The top position is now occupied by Russia (with almost 40%), which rose from fourth position. The US, which headed the ranking in the previous quarter, is now in second position with 18%.

Countries where users faced the greatest risk of online infection

In order to assess the risk of online infection faced by users in different countries, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab users in each country who encountered detection verdicts on their machines during the quarter. The resulting data provides an indication of the aggressiveness of the environment in which computers work in different countries.

  Country* % of unique users attacked ** 1 Kazakhstan 42.37% 2 Russia 41.48% 3 Azerbaijan 38.43% 4 Ukraine 37.03% 5 Croatia 37.00% 6 Armenia 35.74% 7 Mongolia 33.54% 8 Moldova 33.47% 9 Belarus 33.36% 10 Kyrgyzstan 32.20% 11 Algeria 32.12% 12 Qatar 31.15% 13 Georgia 30.69% 14 UAE 29.36% 15 Latvia 28.69% 16 Tajikistan 28.36% 17 Bosnia and Herzegovina 28.00% 18 Greece 27.55% 19 Tunisia 27,54% 20 Bulgaria 27,44%

These statistics are based on the detection verdicts returned by the web antivirus module, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data.
*These calculations excluded countries where the number of Kaspersky Lab users is relatively small (fewer than 10,000 users).
**Unique users whose computers have been targeted by web attacks as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country.

In the first quarter of 2015, the top position in the rankings was occupied by Kazakhstan, which pushed Russia down to second place. Since the previous quarter, Vietnam and Portugal have left the Top 20. The rankings’ newcomers were Bosnia and Herzegovina (28.00%) and Greece (27.55%), which were in 17th and 18th positions, respectively.

The countries with the safest online surfing environments included Japan (12.4%), Denmark (12.7%), Singapore (14.3%), Finland (14.9%), South Africa (14.8%) and the Netherlands (15.2%).

On average, 26.3% of computers connected to the Internet globally were subjected to at least one web attack during the three months.

Local threats

Local infection statistics for user computers are a very important indicator: they reflect threats that have penetrated computer systems using means other than the Internet, email, or network ports.

Data in this section is based on analyzing statistics produced by antivirus scans of files on the hard drive at the moment they were created or accessed, and the results of scanning removable storage media.

In Q1 2015, Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus modules detected 253,560,227 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.

Top 20 malicious objects detected on user computers   Name* % of unique users attacked ** 1 DangerousObject.Multi.Generic 22.56% 2 Trojan.WinLNK.StartPage.gena 17.05% 3 Trojan.Win32.Generic 15.06% 4 AdWare.Script.Generic 6.12% 5 WebToolbar.Win32.Agent.azm 4.49% 6 WebToolbar.JS.Condonit.a 4.20% 7 AdWare.Win32.Agent.heur 4.15% 8 RiskTool.Win32.BackupMyPC.a 3.83% 9 Downloader.Win32.Agent.bxib 3.74% 10 Trojan.Win32.AutoRun.gen 3.70% 11 Trojan.VBS.Agent.ue 3.64% 12 Downloader.Win32.MediaGet.elo 3.42% 13 AdWare.Win32.SearchProtect.ky 3.34% 14 Worm.VBS.Dinihou.r 3.31% 15 Virus.Win32.Sality.gen 3.18% 16 AdWare.Win32.DealPly.brj 2.86% 17 Trojan.Script.Generic 2.74% 18 AdWare.Win32.NewNext.a 2.70% 19 WebToolbar.JS.CroRi.b 2.66% 20 AdWare.MSIL.Kranet.heur 2.49%

*These statistics are compiled from malware detection verdicts generated by the on-access and on-demand scanner modules on the computers of those users running Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to submit their statistical data.
**The proportion of individual users on whose computers the antivirus module detected these objects as a percentage of all individual users of Kaspersky Lab products on whose computers a file antivirus detection was triggered.

This ranking usually includes verdicts issued to adware programs and their components (such as Trojan.VBS.Agent.ue,). In Q1 2015, such verdicts occupied thirteen places in the Top 20.

A newcomer to the rankings, Trojan.WinLNK.StartPage.gena, jumped straight into second position. This is a verdict given to LNK files containing a browser link which specifies the page to be opened. These pages usually have names similar to those of Internet search engines, but they actually redirect users to sites with questionable content. Some of these sites can be dangerous and are even detected by antivirus solutions. Detections of such LNK files peaked in January.

The only virus in the rankings – Virus.Win32.Sality.gen – continues to lose ground. The proportion of user machines infected by this virus has been diminishing for a long time. In Q1 2015, Sality was in 15th place with 3.18%.

Countries where users faced the highest risk of local infection

For each of the countries, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab product users on whose computers the file antivirus had been triggered during the quarter. These statistics reflect the level of personal computer infection in different countries.

Top 20 countries with the highest levels of computer infection

  Country* % of unique users ** 1 Vietnam 60.68% 2 Bangladesh 60.20% 3 Mongolia 57.28% 4 Yemen 55.91% 5 Somalia 55.64% 6 Nepal 55.01% 7 Afghanistan 54.91% 8 Algeria 54.83% 9 Iraq 54.38% 10 Cambodia 52.70% 11 Laos 52.54% 12 Armenia 52.44% 13 Pakistan 51.95% 14 Kazakhstan 51.54% 15 Ruanda 51.36% 16 Ethiopia 50.93% 17 Egypt 50.60% 18 Syria 50.11% 19 India 50.00% 20 Tajikistan 49.80%

These statistics are based on the detection verdicts returned by OAS and ODS antivirus modules, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data. The data includes detections of malicious programs located on users’ computers or on removable media connected to the computers, such as flash drives, camera and phone memory cards, or external hard drives.
* These calculations excluded countries where the number of Kaspersky Lab users is relatively small (fewer than 10,000 users).
**The percentage of unique users in the country with computers that blocked local threats as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products.

For a long time, countries in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia took all the positions in this ranking. However, in Q1 2015, the rankings had such newcomers as Armenia (12th position), Kazakhstan (14th position) and Tajikistan (20th position).

Vietnam (60.68%) has headed the rankings for almost two years, while Bangladesh (60.2%) and Mongolia (57.3%) have kept their positions for the third quarter in a row.

In Russia, local threats in Q1 2015 were detected on computers of 49.6% of users.

The safest countries in terms of local infection risks were: Japan (14.7%), Denmark (20.1%), Sweden (21.4%), Hong Kong (21.5%), and Finland (21.6%).

An average of 39.8% of computers globally faced at least one local threat during Q1 2015, which is two p.p. more than in Q4 2014.

RSA Conference 2015

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 07:54

The RSA Conference 2015 is being held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It a massive event, with thousands of people in attendance.

A huge number of booths built up by vendors provide coffee bars, presentations, and swag giveaways. Threat intelligence is hawked by many here. But, some of the most surprising parts of cyber-security that has been a long time coming is a discussion I do not always hear – cyber-security insurance and quantification methodologies of threat risk assessment. Yawn. This arrival following the massive 2014 data breaches, of course, is partly expected and a double edged sword. It both incentivizes corporate decision makers to act more irresponsible with protecting your data (just buy more insurance to cover it, it’s cheap!), and the policies may incentivize decision makers to strengthen their organization’s cybersecurity in order to meet coverage requirements. Either way, carriers are underwriting more cybersecurity policies and we have yet to see the real impact.

From Kaspersky Lab, our very own David Jacoby will be presenting later today on IoT security at 10:20 am, West Moscone Room 3018. Come check it out!

How exploit packs are concealed in a Flash object

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 07:00

One of the most important features of a malicious attack is its ability to conceal itself from both protection solutions and victims. The main role in performing a hidden attack is played by exploits to software vulnerabilities that can be used to secretly download malicious code on the victim machine. Generally, exploits are distributed in exploit packs which appear in the form of plugin detects (to identify the type and version of software installed on the user computer) and a set of exploits, one of which is issued to the user if an appropriate vulnerability is found.

Recently, we have come across a new technique used to hide exploit-based attacks: fraudsters packed the exploit pack in the Flash file.

Downloading an Exploit

The standard technique used in a drive-by attack is to compromise a web site with a link leading to a landing page with the exploit pack. From there the pack uploads the necessary exploit onto the user computer.  From the point of view of security software, this unmasks all the components of the exploit pack because they are simply uploaded onto the landing page. As a result, the exploits and the plugin detects are visible in the web traffic. The criminals must mask each component separately if the attack is to go unnoticed.

The unconventional new approach with the Flash package is definitely more efficient for criminals. The standard landing page is missing. The user follows the link to get to a page with a packed Flash object that turns out to be the exploit pack and the configuration file in an image form. The packed Flash file with the exploit pack is loaded to a page in the browser and has the right to write to and modify the page, i.e. it can add exploits to the page which will then be executed.

Let us look into how this works, using the Netrino exploit pack as our example.

This is what the packed Flash object looks like:

The packed Flash object (exploit pack)

This is how it looks after de-obfuscation:

The Flash object (exploit-pack) after de-obfuscation

The packing is supposed to prevent the malicious object from being detected. A Flash object like this is not opened by most popular deobfuscators. For instance, SWF Decompiler freezes and then reports an error.


The results of using a popular deobfuscator on the Flash object of the Neutrino exploit pack

The Flash object is written to a page in the user’s browser with the parameter allowscriptaccess = “always” – this allows for the page to be modified, even if the object was loaded from a different domain. Although Flash objects rarely require page modification rights, there is nothing very unusual about this option and indeed a lot of legitimate Flash content is loaded this way. With this privilege, the malicious Flash object simply writes exploits to the page from its binary data.

Thus, there is no malicious content in the web traffic or on the page delivered to the browser. The malicious content is hidden behind a good packer, and the exploits emerge while a page is processed by the browser.

Contents of the Flash object

Let us have a look at what the analyzed Flash object contains, and what it writes to a web page. After unpacking, we see six embedded binary objects. These binary objects are coded with RC4, and some are also compressed with the standard ‘deflate’ algorithm.

The encoded binary objects within the Flash object

Here is how one of the objects is decoded and delivered:

The code for decrypting and adding the exploit to a page

Other objects are decrypted in a similar manner.

Let us summarize the binary objects contained in the Flash pack:

  • An exploit for the CVE-2013-2551 vulnerability in Internet Explorer
  • The exploit for the CVE-2013-2551 vulnerability

  • A malicious DLL which is also part of other versions of the Neutrino exploit pack (discussed later in this article).
  • Two exploits for the CVE-2014-6332 vulnerability in Internet Explorer’s VBS processor:

  • Exploits for the CVE-2014-6332 vulnerability

  • An exploit for the CVE-2014-0569 vulnerability in Adobe Flash
  • The exploit for the CVE-2014-0569 vulnerability

  • An exploit for the CVE-2014-0515 vulnerability in Adobe Flash
  • The exploit for the CVE-2014-0515 vulnerability

By the way, there is no plugin detect for Adobe Flash exploits in this exploit pack. ActionScript tools are used to check the version of Adobe Flash. Adobe Flash versions that can be attacked using exploits are hardcoded in the Flash-pack code:

In the most recent versions, modifications were introduced into the Flash pack. These include adding another exploit for the vulnerability CVE-2015-0536 in Adobe Flash.

The configuration file

Let us have a look at one interesting function in the Flash pack.

It should be remembered that an image (a configuration file) is posted on the landing page alongside with the Flash object.

The image posted on the page

A special function reads this image from the landing page, decodes its Base64 and RC4, and thus obtains the configuration file.

The function for obtaining the configuration file

The configuration file contains the keys and identifiers of the exploits discussed above, which are available for the user to download. The availability of the configuration file gives some flexibility to the cybercriminals: they can specify the best settings for its operation at each specific period of time without changing the exploit pack itself. For example, they can specify priority exploits or separately keep the keys with which to decrypt the objects within the pack.

The configuration file decrypted from the image

In the later versions of the Flash pack, however, the configuration file is part of the actual exploit pack rather than a separate picture.

Implementing the payload

The shell-code of one of the exploits is a VBS code with binary code in a string, which is executed by the exploitation of the vulnerability CVE-2014-6332 in Internet Explorer’s VBS processor. As a result, the file shell32.dll is loaded to the folder “%temp%/System32/.

The name and the path of the loaded file are similar to those of regular Windows DLLs. Using the regular DLL hijacking technique, one can go without using the functions run, start, open etc., and thus mask the launch of a malicious DLL from the security product.

Using DLL hijacking shell32.dll

The exploit modifies the environment variable SYSDIR and attempts to load System.ShellApplication – this launches the malicious DLL.

The launched DLL is a dropper which loads the script”p.js” to the victim’s computer and launches it.

The main part of shell32.dll code

The launched p.js script

This script is the loader of the principal malicious file.

Distribution

The version of the Flash pack described in this article emerged in late 2014 and was actively distributed in Q1 2015. There were also new modifications of the Flash pack, but their basic working principles didn’t change.

It wasn’t until March 2015 that we observed Neutrino Flash pack attacks on the computers of 60,541 users. On average about 2,000 users were attacked every day; on certain days, the number of potential victims reached 5,000 to 6,000.

The number of unique users attacked by Neutrino Flash pack

This exploit pack is predominantly used to attack users located in the USA and Canada.

The geographic distribution of Neutrino Flash-pack attacks (as of March 2015)

Conclusion

The idea of use a Flash-pack to distribute exploits is relatively new and it has proved fairly successful for cybercriminals. Existing Flash properties allow them to pack the exploit pack into a Flash object and conceal it with an obfuscator. The Flash capability to specify website access parameters then allows them to write exploits to a webpage in the user’s browser. The exploit-pack’s components are not found in the web traffic, nor in the loaded page.

Although the malware writers are constantly updating the exploit-pack and introducing modifications into the code of the malicious Flash pack in order to prevent security products from detecting it, Kaspersky Lab responds promptly to these threats. Alongside regular protection methods, Kaspersky Lab’s products use a special “Anti-Exploit Protection” (AEP) component, which detects this threat with the help of behavior analysis.

Kaspersky Lab’s products detect this Flash pack under the verdict HEUR:Exploit.Script.Blocker, HEUR:Exploit.SWF.Generic.

The CozyDuke APT

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 16:50

CozyDuke (aka CozyBear, CozyCar or “Office Monkeys”) is a precise attacker. Kaspersky Lab has observed signs of attacks against government organizations and commercial entities in the US, Germany, South Korea and Uzbekistan. In 2014, targets included the White House and the US Department of State, as believed.

The operation presents several interesting aspects

  • extremely sensitive high profile victims and targets
  • evolving crypto and anti-detection capabilities
  • strong malware functional and structural similarities mating this toolset to early MiniDuke second stage components, along with more recent CosmicDuke and OnionDuke components

The actor often spearphishes targets with e-mails containing a link to a hacked website. Sometimes it is a high profile, legitimate site such as “diplomacy.pl”, hosting a ZIP archive. The ZIP archive contains a RAR SFX which installs the malware and shows an empty PDF decoy.

In other highly successful runs, this actor sends out phony flash videos directly as email attachments. A clever example is “Office Monkeys LOL Video.zip”. The executable within not only plays a flash video, but drops and runs another CozyDuke executable. These videos are quickly passed around offices with delight while systems are infected in the background silently. Many of this APT’s components are signed with phony Intel and AMD digital certificates.

Recent CozyDuke APT activity attracted significant attention in the news:

Sources: State Dept. hack the ‘worst ever’, CNN News, March 2015
White House computer network ‘hacked’, BBC News, October 2014
Three Months Later, State Department Hasn’t Rooted Out Hackers, Wall Street Journal, February 2015
State Department shuts down its e-mail system amid concerns about hacking, Washington Post, November 2014

Let’s examine a smattering of representative CozyDuke files and data. There is much to their toolset.

Office Monkeys dropper analysis

CozyDuke droppers and spyware components often maintain fairly common characteristics, but these files’ functionality are modified in slight ways depending on the team’s needs. This rapid development and deployment is interesting.

68271df868f462c06e24a896a9494225,Office Monkeys LOL Video.zip

Believe it or not, recipients in bulk run the file within:

95b3ec0a4e539efaa1faa3d4e25d51de,Office Monkeys (Short Flash Movie).exe

This file in turn drops two executables to %temp%:

  • 2aabd78ef11926d7b562fd0d91e68ad3, Monkeys.exe
  • 3d3363598f87c78826c859077606e514, player.exe

It first launches Monkeys.exe, playing a self-contained, very funny video of white-collar tie wearing chimpanzees working in a high rise office with a human colleague. It then launches player.exe, a CozyDuke dropper maintaining anti-detection techniques:

3d3363598f87c78826c859077606e514,player.exe,338kb,Trojan.Win32.CozyBear.v,CompiledOn:2014.07.02 21:13:33

Anti-detection and trojan functionality

The file collects system information, and then invokes a WMI instance in the root\securitycenter namespace to identify security products installed on the system, meaning that this code was built for x86 systems, wql here:

SELECT * FROM AntiVirusProduct
SELECT * FROM FireWallProduct

The code hunts for several security products to evade:

  • CRYSTAL
  • KASPERSKY
  • SOPHOS
  • DrWeb
  • AVIRA
  • COMODO Dragon

In addition to the WMI/wql use, it also hunts through the “SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\” registry key looking for security products to avoid. Following these checks, it drops several more malware files signed with the pasted AMD digital signature to a directory it creates. These files are stored within an 217kb encrypted cab file in the dropper’s resources under the name “A”. The cab file was encrypted and decrypted using a simple xor cipher with a rotating 16 byte key: \x36\x11\xdd\x08\xac\x4b\x72\xf8\x51\x04\x68\x2e\x3e\x38\x64\x32.

The cab file is decompressed and its contents are created on disk. These dropped files bundle functionality for both 64bit and 32bit Windows systems and are all located within one directory:
C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\ATI_Subsystem\

6761106f816313394a653db5172dc487,amdhcp32.dll,54kb  ← 32bit dll,CompiledOn:2014.07.02 21:13:24
d596827d48a3ff836545b3a999f2c3e3,aticaldd.dll,60kb  ← 64bit dll,CompiledOn:2014.07.02 21:13:26
bc626c8f11ed753f33ad1c0fe848d898,atiumdag.dll,285kb ← 32bit dll, Trojan.Win32.CozyDuke.a, CompiledOn:2014.07.02 21:13:26
4152e79e3dbde55dcf3fc2014700a022,6kb,racss.dat

The code copies rundll32.exe from windows\system32 to its newly created %appdata%\ATI_Subsystem subdirectory as “amdocl_as32.exe” alongside the three dll’s listed above. It runs atiumdag.dll with two parameter values, it’s only export and an arbitrary pid,  i.e.:
“C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\ATI_Subsystem\amdocl_as32.exe” “C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\ATI_Subsystem\atiumdag.dll””, ADL2_ApplicationProfiles_System_Reload 1684″

This dll is built with anti-AV protections as well. However, it looks for a different but overlapping set, and the random duplication suggests that this component was cobbled together with its dropper, partly regionally based on target selection.

  • K7
  • KASPERSKY
  • AVG

The code collects information about the system and xml formats this data prior to encryption for proper parsing:

Finally, this process beacons to www.sanjosemaristas.com, which appears to be a site that has been compromised and misused multiple times in the past couple of years.
hxxp://www.sanjosemaristas[.]com/app/index.php?{A01BA0AD-9BB3-4F38-B76B-A00AD11CBAAA}, providing the current network adapter’s service name GUID. It uses standard Win32 base cryptography functions to generate a CALG_RC4 session key to encrypt the collected data communications and POSTs it to the server.

Executable-Signing Certificates

Samples are usually signed with a fake certificate – we’ve seen two instances, one AMD and one Intel:

Configuration files:

Some of the malware uses an encrypted configuration file which is stored on disk as “racss.dat”. This is encrypted by RC4, using the key {0xb5, 0x78, 0x62, 0x52, 0x98, 0x3e, 0x24, 0xd7, 0x3b, 0xc6, 0xee, 0x7c, 0xb9, 0xed, 0x91, 0x62}. Here’s how it looks decrypted:

Second stage malware and communications:

The attackers send commands and new modules to be executed to the victims through the C&Cs. The C&C scripts store these temporarily until the victim next connects to retrieve local files. We’ve identified two such files:

  • settings.db
  • sdfg3d.db

Here’s how such a database file appears:

These are BASE64 encoded and use the same RC4 encryption key as the malware configuration.

Decoding them resulted in the following payloads:

59704bc8bedef32709ab1128734aa846, ChromeUpdate.ex_
5d8835982d8bfc8b047eb47322436c8a, cmd_task.dll
e0b6f0d368c81a0fb197774d0072f759, screenshot_task.dll

Decoding them also resulted in a set of tasking files maintaining agent commands and parameter values:

conf.xml

And a set of “reporting” files, maintaining stolen system “info”, error output, and “AgentInfo” output, from victim systems:

DCOM_amdocl_ld_API_.raw
Util_amdave_System_.vol
Last_amdpcom_Subsystem_.max
Data_amdmiracast_API_.aaf
7.txt

screenshot_task.dll is a 32-bit dll used to take a screenshot of the full desktop window and save it as a bitmap in %temp%. The number of times the screenshot is repeated is configurable within the xml task file.

cmd_task.dll is a 32-bit dll that maintains several primitives. It is used to create new processes, perform as a command line shell, and several other tasks.

Each of these payloads is delivered together with a configuration file that explains how to run it, for instance:


In another tasking, we notice a tracked victim:

Attackers map a network drive use Microsoft OneDrive to run further tools:

They copy down a base64 encoded document from Microsoft OneDrive to the victim system and decode it there:

Not everything works as planned, so they maintain error reporting facility for the c2 communications:

Furthermore, ChromeUpdate is a 64-bit executable (which appears to be a WEXTRACT package) that oddly drops a 32-bit Dll. Cache.dll is simply stored as a cabinet file in the ChromeUpdate’s resource section.

ChromeUpdate.exe starts the file with “rundll32 cache.dll,ADB_Setup”

Cache.dll analysis

Cache.dll was written in C/C++ and built with a Microsoft compiler.

Cache.dll code flow overview

  • RC4 decrypt hardcoded c2 and urls
  • resolve hidden function calls
  • collect identifying victim system data
  • encrypt collected data
  • send stolen data to c2 and retrieve commands
Cache.dll code details

Structurally, “Cache.dll” is a fairly large backdoor at 425KB. It maintains both code and data in the raw, encrypted blobs of data to be decrypted and used at runtime, and hidden functionality that isn’t exposed until runtime. No pdb/debug strings are present in the code.

It maintains eight exports, including DllMain:

  • ADB_Add
  • ADB_Cleanup
  • ADB_Initnj
  • ADB_Load
  • ADB_Release
  • ADB_Remove
  • ADB_Setup

ADB_Setup is a entry point that simply spawns another thread and waits for completion.

Above, we see a new thread created with the start address of Cache.dll export  “ADB_Load” by the initial thread.

This exported function is passed control while the initial thread runs a Windows message loop. It first grabs an encrypted blob stored away in a global variable and pulls out 381 bytes of this encrypted data:

The standard win32 api CryptDecrypt uses rc4 to decrypt this blob into a hardcoded c2, url path, and url parameters listed below with a simple 140-bit key “\x8B\xFF\x55\x8B\xEC\x83\xEC\x50\xA1\x84\x18\x03\x68\x33\xC9\x66\xF7\x45\x10\xE8\x1F\x89\x45\xFC\x8B\x45\x14\x56″.

The code then decodes this set of import symbols and resolves addresses for its networking and data stealing functionality:

InternetCloseHandle
InternetReadFile
HttpSendRequestA
HttpOpenRequestA
HttpQueryInfoA
InternetConnectA
InternetCrackUrlA
InternetOpenA
InternetSetOptionW
GetAdaptersInfo

Much like the prior office monkey “atiumdag.dll” component, this code collects identifying system information using standard win32 API calls:

  • Computer name – GetComputerNameW
  • User name – GetUserNameW
  • Adapter GUID, ip address, mac address – GetAdaptersInfo
  • Windows version – GetVersionExW

It then uses the runtime resolved networking API calls to send the collected data back to a hardcoded c2 and set of urls.

Cache.dll connectback urls:

  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/links.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/api.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/index.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/error.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/profile.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/online.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/loader.php
  • 209.200.83.43/ajax/search.php

Observed user-agent string on the wire, but it’s dynamically generated based on the Windows system settings (retrieved using standard win32 api “ObtainUserAgentString”):
“User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.5.21022)”

Communications with the CozyDuke C2 include key/value pairs passed as URL parameters. Observed keys that remind us of the Cosmicduke communications include:

  • status=
  • k=
  • mode=
  • ajax=
  • name=
  • subNodeId=
  • nodeId=
  • r=
  • t=
  • id=
  • item=
  • item_id=
  • js=
  • j=
  • v=
  • json=
  • i=
  • c=
  • x=
  • a=

 

Connections with MiniDuke/CosmicDuke/OnionDuke:

One of the second stage modules of CozyDuke/Cozy Bear, Show.dll, is particularly interesting because it appears to have been built onto the same platform as OnionDuke. Below we compare Show.dll with the OnionDuke sample MD5: c8eb6040fd02d77660d19057a38ff769. Both have exactly the same export tables and appear to be called internally “UserCache.dll”:

This seems to indicate the authors of OnionDuke and CozyDuke / Cozy Bear are the same, or working together.

Another interesting comparison of two other files matches a recent second stage tool from the CozyDuke attacks with a second stage component from other Miniduke/Onionduke attacks.

2e0361fd73f60c76c69806205307ccac, update.dll (MiniDuke), 425kb (internal name = “UserCache.dll“)
9e3f3b5e9ece79102d257e8cf982e09e, cache.dll (CozyDuke), 425kb (internal name = “UserCache.dll“)

The two share identical export function names in their export directories, and the naming appears to be randomly assigned at compile time. The table below presents the function matches based on size data, but the calls, jmps and code all match as well. The contents of only one of these exports in update.dll has no match whatsoever in cache.dll.

Unlike the atiumdag.dll file above, however, cache.dll and update.dll do not maintain anti-AV and anti-analysis functionality sets. Perhaps they plan to pair this stealer with another dropper that maintains the WMI anti-AV functionality. This rotating functionality seems representational for the set, along with other characteristics. Their custom backdoor components appear to slightly evolve over time, with modifications to anti-detection, cryptography, and trojan functionality changing per operation. This rapid development and deployment reminds us of the APT28/Sofacy toolset, especially the coreshell and chopstick components.

We expect ongoing and further activity from this group in the near future and variations on the malware used in previous duke-ish incidents.

For more information about MiniDuke, CosmicDuke and OnionDuke, please see References.

Related MD5s

62c4ce93050e48d623569c7dcc4d0278, 2537.ex_
a5d6ad8ad82c266fda96e076335a5080, drop1.ex_
93176df76e351b3ea829e0e6c6832bdf, drop1.pd_
7688be226b946e231e0cd36e6b708d20, 8.zip
fd8e27f820bdbdf6cb80a46c67fd978a, doc853.ex_
93176df76e351b3ea829e0e6c6832bdf, doc853.pdf
9ad55b83f2eec0c19873a770b0c86a2f, reader_sl.ex_
f16dff8ec8702518471f637eb5313ab2 1.ex_
8670710bc9477431a01a576b6b5c1b2a
93176df76e351b3ea829e0e6c6832bdf, dropped\hppscan854.pdf
f58a4369b8176edbde4396dc977c9008, dropped\reader_sl.ex_
83f57f0116a3b3d69ef7b1dbe9943801
b5553645fe819a93aafe2894da13dae7
acffb2823fc655637657dcbd25f35af8
1a42acbdb285a7fba17f95068822ea4e
d543904651b180fd5e4dc1584e639b5e
d7af9a4010c75af6756a603fd6aef5a4
93176df76e351b3ea829e0e6c6832bdf, 3852.pdf
f2b05e6b01be3b6cb14e9068e7a66fc1, dropped\reader_sl.ex_
57a1f0658712ee7b3a724b6d07e97259, dropped\3852.ex_
93176df76e351b3ea829e0e6c6832bdf, 5463.pdf
eb22b99d44223866e24872d80a4ddefd, dropped\5463\reader_sl.ex_
90bd910ee161b71c7a37ac642f910059, dropped\5463.ex_
1a262a7bfecd981d7874633f41ea5de8
98a6484533fa12a9ba6b1bd9df1899dc
7f6bca4f08c63e597bed969f5b729c56
08709ef0e3d467ce843af4deb77d74d5

Related CozyDuke C&Cs: 121.193.130.170:443/wp-ajax.php 183.78.169.5:443/search.php 200.119.128.45:443/mobile.php 200.125.133.28:443/search.php 200.125.142.11:443/news.php 201.76.51.10:443/plugins/json.php 202.206.232.20:443/rss.php 202.76.237.216:443/search.php 203.156.161.49:443/plugins/twitter.php 208.75.241.246:443/msearch.php 209.40.72.2:443/plugins/fsearch.php 210.59.2.20:443/search.php 208.77.177.24:443/fsearch.php www.getiton.hants.org.uk:80/themes/front/img/ajax.php www.seccionpolitica.com.ar:80/galeria/index.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/links.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/api.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/index.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/error.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/profile.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/online.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/loader.php 209.200.83.43/ajax/search.php Appendix: Parallel and Previous Research

The MiniDuke Mystery: PDF 0-day Government Spy Assembler 0x29A Micro Backdoor, Securelist, Feb 2013
Miniduke is back: Nemesis Gemina and the Botgen Studio, Securelist, July 2014
MiniDuke 2 (CosmicDuke), CrySyS, July 2014
COSMICDUKE Cosmu with a twist of MiniDuke [pdf], F-Secure, September 2014
THE CASE OF THE MODIFIED BINARIES, Leviathan Security, October 2014
A word on CosmicDuke, Blaze’s Security Blog, September 2014
OnionDuke: APT Attacks Via the Tor Network, F-Secure, November 2014
The Connections Between MiniDuke, CosmicDuke and OnionDuke, F-Secure, January 2015

Kaspersky Lab products detect the malware used by the CozyDuke threat actor as:
HEUR:Trojan.Win32.CozyDuke.gen
Trojan.Win32.CozyBear.*

The Chronicles of the Hellsing APT: the Empire Strikes Back

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 22:30

Introduction

One of the most active APT groups in Asia, and especially around the South China Sea area is “Naikon”. Naikon plays a key part in our story, but the focus of this report is on another threat actor entirely; one who came to our attention when they hit back at a Naikon attack.

Naikon is known for its custom backdoor, called RARSTONE, which our colleagues at Trend Micro have described in detail. The name Naikon comes from a custom user agent string, “NOKIAN95/WEB”, located within the backdoor:

NOKIAN string in Naikon backdoor

The Naikon group is mostly active in countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, and Nepal, hitting a variety of targets in a very opportunistic way. What was perhaps one of the biggest operations of the Naikon group was launched in March 2014, in the wake of the MH370 tragedy that took place on March 8th. By March 11th, the Naikon group was actively hitting most of the nations involved in the search for MH370. The targets were extremely wide-ranging but included institutions with access to information related to the disappearance of MH370, such as:

  • Office of the President
  • Armed Forces
  • Office of the Cabinet Secretary
  • National Security Council(s)
  • Office of the Solicitor General
  • National Intelligence Coordinating Agency
  • Civil Aviation Authority
  • Department of Justice
  • National Police
  • Presidential Management Staff

The Naikon group used mostly spear-phished documents for the attacks, with CVE-2012-0158 exploits that dropped the group’s signature backdoor.

While many of these attacks were successful, at least one of the targets didn’t seem to like being hit, and instead of opening the documents, decided on a very different course of action.

The empire strikes back

Here’s a question – what should you do when you receiving a suspicious document from somebody you don’t know, or know very little? Choose one:

  • Open the document
  • Don’t open the document
  • Open the document on a Mac (everybody knows Mac’s don’t get viruses)
  • Open the document in a virtual machine with Linux

Based on our experience, most people would say 2, 3 or 4. Very few would open the document and even fewer would actually decide to test the attacker and verify its story.

But this is exactly what happened when one of the Naikon spear-phishing targets received a suspicious email. Instead of opening the document or choosing to open it on an exotic platform, they decided to check the story with the sender:

Naikon target asks for confirmation of the email

In the email above, we can see the target questioning the authenticity of the Naikon spear-phishing. They ask the sender if it was their intention to email this document.

The attacker was, of course, not confused in the slightest, and being very familiar with the internal structure of the target’s government agency, replied claiming that they work for the secretariat division and were instructed to send it by the organization’s management:

Naikon attacker replies to the target

The reply is written in poor English and indicates that the attacker is probably not as proficient in the language as the intended victim. Seeing the reply, the target obviously decided not to open the document. Moreover, they decided to go a bit further and try to learn more about the attacker.

Not long after the first exchange, the following email was sent to the attacker by the target:

The attachment is a RAR archive with password, which allows it to safely bypass malware scanners associated with the free email account used by the attackers. Inside the archive we find two decode PDF files and one SCR file:

Much to our surprise, the “SCR” file turned out to be a backdoor prepared especially for the Naikon fraudsters.

The file “Directory of … Mar 31, 2014.scr” (md5: 198fc1af5cd278091f36645a77c18ffa) drops a blank document containing the error message and a backdoor module (md5: 588f41b1f34b29529bc117346355113f). The backdoor connects to the command server located at philippinenews[.]mooo[.]com.

The backdoor can perform the following actions:

  • download files
  • upload files
  • update itself
  • uninstall itself

We were amazed to see this course of action and decided to investigate the “Empire Strikes Back”-door further; naming the actor “Hellsing” (explained later).

The malware used by the intended victim appears to have the following geographical distribution, according to KSN data:

  • Malaysia – government networks
  • Philippines – government networks
  • Indonesia – government networks
  • USA – diplomatic agencies
  • India (old versions of malware)

In addition, we’ve observed the targeting of ASEAN-related entities.

Victims of Hellsing attacks

The actor targets its intended victims using spear-phishing emails with archives containing malware, similar to the one it used against the Naikon group. Some of the attachment names we observed include:

  • 2013 Mid-Year IAG Meeting Admin Circular FINAL.7z
  • HSG FOLG ITEMS FOR USE OF NEWLY PROMOTED YNC FEDERICO P AMORADA 798085 PN CLN.zip
  • Home Office Directory as of May 2012.Please find attached here the latest DFA directory and key position officials for your referenece.scr
  • LOI Nr 135-12 re 2nd Quarter.Scr
  • Letter from Paquito Ochoa to Albert Del Rosario,the Current Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.7z
  • Letter to SND_Office Call and Visit to Commander, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) VER 4.0.zip
  • PAF-ACES Fellowship Program.scr
  • RAND Analytic Architecture for Capabilities Based Planning, Mission System Analysis, and Transformation.scr
  • Update Attachments_Interaction of Military Personnel with the President _2012_06_28.rar
  • Update SND Meeting with the President re Hasahasa Shoal Incident.scr
  • Washington DC Directory November 2012-EMBASSY OF THE PHILIPPINES.zip
  • ZPE-791-2012&ZPE-792-2012.rar
  • zpe-791-2012.PDF.scr

We’ve observed RAR, ZIP and 7ZIP archives in the attacks – the 7ZIP archives with passwords were probably introduced as a way to bypass the recent security features on Gmail, which block password-protected archives with executables inside.

Each backdoor has a command and control server inside as well as a version number and a campaign or victim identifier. Some examples include:

MD5 Date C&C Campaign identifier 2682a1246199a18967c98cb32191230c Mar 31 2014 freebsd.extrimtur[.]com 1.6.1_MOTAC 31b3cc60dbecb653ae972db9e57e14ec Mar 31 2014 freebsd.extrimtur[.]com 1.6.1_MOTAC 4dbfd37fd851daebdae7f009adec3cbd Nov 08 2013 articles.whynotad[.]com 1.5_articles.whynotad.com-nsc 015915bbfcda1b2b884db87262970a11 Feb 19 2014 guaranteed9.strangled[.]net 1.5_guaranteed9-nsc 3a40e0deb14f821516eadaed24301335 Mar 31 2014 hosts.mysaol[.]com 1.6.1_imi;simple 73396bacd33cde4c8cb699bcf11d9f56 Nov 08 2013 web01.crabdance[.]com 1.5_op_laptop 7c0be4e6aee5bc5960baa57c6a93f420 Nov 08 2013 hosts.mysaol[.]com 1.5_MMEA bff9c356e20a49bbcb12547c8d483352 Apr 02 2014 imgs09.homenet[.]org 1.6.1_It c0e85b34697c8561452a149a0b123435 Apr 02 2014 imgs09.homenet[.]org 1.6.1_It f13deac7d2c1a971f98c9365b071db92 Nov 08 2013 hosts.mysaol[.]com 1.5_MMEA f74ccb013edd82b25fd1726b17b670e5 May 12 2014 second.photo-frame[.]com 1.6.2s_Ab

The campaign identifiers could be related to the organizations targeted by the specific builds of this APT. Some possible descriptions for these initials could be:

Artifacts and overlap with other APTs

Interestingly, some of the infrastructure used by the attackers appears to overlap (although around a year apart) with a group tracked internally at Kaspersky Lab as PlayfullDragon (also known as “GREF”); while other aspects of the infrastructure overlap with a group known as Mirage or Vixen Panda.

For instance, one of the PlayfullDragon’s Xslcmd backdoors described by our colleagues from FireEye (md5: 6c3be96b65a7db4662ccaae34d6e72cc) beams to cdi.indiadigest[.]in:53. One of the Hellsing samples we analysed (md5: 0cbefd8cd4b9a36c791d926f84f10b7b) connects to the C&C server at webmm[.]indiadigest[.]in. Although the hostname is not the same, the top level domain suggests some kind of connection between the groups. Several other C&C subdomains on “indiadigest[.]in” include:

  • aac.indiadigest[.]in
  • ld.indiadigest[.]in
  • longc.indiadigest[.]in

Another overlap we observed is with an APT known as Cycldek or Goblin Panda. Some of the Hellsing samples we analysed in this operation (e.g. md5: a91c9a2b1bc4020514c6c49c5ff84298) communicate with the server webb[.]huntingtomingalls[.]com, using a protocol specific to the Cycldek backdoors (binup.asp/textup.asp/online.asp).

It appears that the Hellsing developer started with the Cycldek sources and worked together with the operators from other APT groups. Nevertheless, it is sufficiently different to warrant classification as a stand-alone operation.

So, where does the Hellsing name come from? One of the samples we analysed (md5: 036e021e1b7f61cddfd294f791de7ea2) appears to have been compiled in a rush and the attacker forgot to remove the debug information. One can see the project name is Hellsing and the malware is called “msger”:

Of course, Hellsing can have many different meanings, including the famous doctor from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. However, according to Wikipedia, “Hellsing (ヘルシング Herushingu) is also a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano. It first premiered in Young King Ours in 1997 and ended in September 2008″.

The Hellsing series chronicles the efforts of the mysterious and secret Hellsing Organization, as it combats vampires, ghouls, and other supernatural foes; which makes it perhaps an appropriate name for our group.

In addition to the Hellsing/msger malware, we’ve identified a second generation of Trojan samples which appear to be called “xweber” by the attackers:

“Xweber” seems to be the more recent Trojan, taking into account compilation timestamps. All the “msger” samples we have seen appear to have been compiled in 2012. The “Xweber” samples are from 2013 and from 2014, indicating that at some point during 2013 the “msger” malware project was renamed and/or integrated into “Xweber”.

During our investigation we’ve observed the Hellsing APT using both the “Xweber” and “msger” backdoors in their attacks, as well as other tools named “xrat”, “clare”, “irene” and “xKat”.

Other tools

Once the Hellsing attackers compromise a computer, they deploy other tools which can be used for gathering further information about the victim or doing lateral movement. One such tool is “test.exe”:

Name test.exe Size 45,568 bytes MD5 14309b52f5a3df8cb0eb5b6dae9ce4da Type Win32 PE i386 executable

This tool is used to gather information and test available proxies. Interestingly, it also contains the Hellsing debug path:

Another attack tool deployed in a victim’s environment was a file system driver, named “diskfilter.sys”, although internally it claims to be named “xrat.sys”. The driver is unsigned and compiled for 32-bit Windows. It was used briefly in 2013, before being abandoned by the attackers, possibly due to Windows 7 driver signing requirements:

Another tool used by the attackers is called “xKat”:

Name xkat.exe Size 78,848 bytes MD5 621e4c293313e8638fb8f725c0ae9d0f Type Win32 PE i386 executable

This is a powerful file deletion and process killer which uses a driver (Dbgv.sys) to perform the operations. We’ve seen it being used by the attackers to kill and delete malware belonging to their competitors.

Some of the debug paths found in the binaries include:

  • e:\Hellsing\release\clare.pdb
  • e:\Hellsing\release\irene\irene.pdb
  • d:\hellsing\sys\irene\objchk_win7_x86\i386\irene.pdb
  • d:\hellsing\sys\xkat\objchk_win7_x86\i386\xKat.pdb
  • d:\Hellsing\release\msger\msger_install.pdb
  • d:\Hellsing\release\msger\msger_server.pdb
  • d:\hellsing\sys\xrat\objchk_win7_x86\i386\xrat.pdb
  • D:\Hellsing\release\exe\exe\test.pdb
Attribution

In general, the attribution of APTs is a very tricky task which is why we prefer to publish technical details and allow others to draw their own conclusions.

The Hellsing-related samples appear to have been compiled around the following times:

Assuming normal work starts at around 9 am, the attacker seems to be most active in a time-zone of GMT+8 or +9, considering a work program of 9/10 am to 6/7pm.

Conclusions

The Hellsing APT group is currently active in the APAC region, hitting targets mainly in the South China Sea area, with a focus on Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. The group has a relatively small footprint compared to massive operations such as “Equation“. Smaller groups can have the advantage of being able to stay under the radar for longer periods of time, which is what happened here.

The targeting of the Naikon group by the Hellsing APT is perhaps the most interesting part. In the past, we’ve seen APT groups accidentally hitting each other while stealing address books from victims and then mass-mailing everyone on each of these lists. But, considering the timing and origin of the attack, the current case seems more likely to be an APT-on-APT attack.

To protect against a Hellsing attack, we recommend that organisations follow basic security best practices:

  • Don’t open attachments from people you don’t know
  • Beware of password-protected archives which contain SCR or other executable files inside
  • If you are unsure about the attachment, try to open it in a sandbox
  • Make sure you have a modern operating system with all patches installed
  • Update all third party applications such as Microsoft Office, Java, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe Reader

Kaspersky Lab products detect the backdoors used by the Hellsing attacker as: HEUR:Trojan.Win32.Generic, Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Agent.kbuj, Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Agent.kzqq.

Deny the Hellsing APT by default Appendix:

Hellsing Indicators of Compromise

Microsoft Security Updates April 2015

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 13:58

Microsoft releases 11 Security Bulletins (MS15-032 through MS15-042) today, addressing a list of over 25 CVE-identified vulnerabilities for April of 2015. Critical vulnerabilities are fixed in Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, and the network and graphics stacks. Most of the critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities reside in the IE memory corruption bugs for all versions of Internet Explorer (6-11) and the Microsoft Office use-after-free. updated: However, they appear to *almost* all be the result of private discoveries, at least, 24 of the 25. In reference to Office vulnerability CVE-2015-1641, “Microsoft is aware of limited attacks that attempt to exploit this vulnerability”.

The Microsoft Office CVE-2015-1649 use-after free is a critical RCE impacting a variety of software and scenarios. The vulnerable code exists across desktop versions Word 2007, 2010, the Word Viewer and Office Compatibility apps, but not Word 2013 or Word for Mac. It’s also critical RCE on the server-side in Word Automation Services on Sharepoint 2010 and Microsoft Office Web Apps Server 2010, but not SharePoint 2013 or Web Apps 2013.

As the new Verizon Data Breach 2015 report highlighted today, many exploits currently effective against targets are exploiting vulnerabilities patched long ago. According to their figures, many of the exploited CVE used on compromised hosts were published over a year prior. Microsoft provides Windows Update to easily keep your software updated, and Kaspersky products provide vulnerability scanners to help keep all of your software up-to-date, including Microsoft’s. Please patch asap.

From the heap of vulnerabilities and fixes rated “Important”, the Hyper-V DoS issue effects the newest Microsoft platform code: Windows 8.1 64-bit and Windows Server 2012 R2 (including the Server Core installation, which is fairly unusual). While the flawed code has not been found to enable EoP on other VMs within the Hyper-V host, attacked Hyper-V systems may lose management of all VMs in the Virtual Machine Manager.

Your Tax Refund with a Data Kidnapping Twist!

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 07:40

Oh, how procrastination gets all of us! April 15th is the U.S. tax deadline and it looks like most of us will be coming down to the wire on declaring our taxes and holding our collective breath in expectation of that sweet, sweet refund. Sadly, our malware writing friends are aware of this and their discipline has proven far superior. Knowing that many are on the lookout for emails from the Internal Revenue Service concerning pending refunds, criminals have crafted some of their own:

The attachment is actually a Trojan-Downloader.MsWord.Agent malware, built by the same group behind the recent LogMeIn malicious campaign described here.

The infection scheme is very similar to the aforementioned, however, the threat actor has moved on from abusing Pastebin entries and has instead hacked a Web server in China to host the instructions script file. This file as well as the download URL are also encoded in Base64 and the resulting payload is actually ransomware.

URLs embedded in the malicious macros leading to a Base64 encoded instructions script file and the payload URL below

Instructions files with the URL to the ransomware payload

The malicious ransomware payload is detected by Kaspersky Anti-Virus as Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign.mfbg

Due to the reliance on the IRS branding, this particular malicious campaign is mostly focused on US citizens and permanent residents of the USA.

Challenging CoinVault – it's time to free those files

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 07:23

Some months ago we wrote a blog post about CoinVault. In that post we explained how we tore the malware apart in order to get to its original code and not the obfuscated one.

So when were contacted recently by the National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) of the Netherlands' police and the Netherlands' National Prosecutors Office, who had obtained a database from a CoinVault command & control server (containing IVs, Keys and private Bitcoin wallets), we were able to put our accumulated insight to good use and accelerate the creation of a decryption tool.

We also created a website and started a communications campaign to notify victims that it might be possible to get their data back without paying.

To build the decryption tool we needed to know the following:

  • Which encryption algorithm was being used?
  • Which block cipher mode was being used?
  • And, most importantly, what malware are dealing with?

There was obviously no time for "hardcore" reverse engineering, so the first thing we did was run the malware sample to see what it was doing. And indeed, just as we thought, it was another CoinVault sample. The next thing we did was open the executable in a decompiler, where we saw that the same obfuscation method was used as described in the post. So CoinVault it is. However, we still didn't know which encryption algorithm and block cipher mode it was using.

But luckily we have a sandbox! The nice thing about the sandbox is that it executes the malware, but also has the ability to trace virtually anything. We can dump files and registry changes but in this case the memory dumps were the most interesting. We knew from the previous CoinVault samples that the malware was using the RijndaelManaged class, so all we had to do was search in the memory dump for this string.

And here it is. We see that it still uses AES, although not the 128-bit block size anymore, but the 256-bit one. Also the block cipher mode has changed from CBC to CFB. This was all the information we needed to write our decryption tool.

To see if you can decrypt your files for free, please go to https://noransom.kaspersky.com

Simda's Hide and Seek: Grown-up Games

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 00:30

On 9 April, 2015 Kaspersky Lab was involved in the synchronized Simda botnet takedown operation coordinated by INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation. In this case the investigation was initially started by Microsoft and expanded to involve a larger circle of participants including TrendMicro, the Cyber Defense Institute, officers from the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), the FBI, the Police Grand-Ducale Section Nouvelles Technologies in Luxembourg, and the Russian Ministry of the Interior's Cybercrime Department "K" supported by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Moscow.

As a result of this takedown 14 C&C servers were seized in the Netherlands, USA, Luxembourg, Poland and Russia. Preliminary analysis of some of the sinkholed server logs revealed a list of 190 countries affected by the Simda botnet.

Simba character, courtesy of Walt Disney Productions, has nothing to do with Simda botnet

Simda is a mysterious botnet used for cybercriminal purposes, such as the dissemination of potentially unwanted and malicious software. This bot is mysterious because it rarely appears on our KSN radars despite compromising a large number of hosts every day. This is partly due to detection of emulation, security tools and virtual machines. It has a number of methods to detect research sandbox environments with a view to tricking researchers by consuming all CPU resources or notifying the botnet owner about the external IP address of the research network. Another reason is a server-side polymorphism and the limited lifetime of the bots.

Simda is distributed by a number of infected websites that redirect to exploit kits. The bot uses hardcoded IP addresses to notifying the master about various stages of execution process. It downloads and runs additional components from its own update servers and can modify the system hosts file. The latter is quite an interesting technique, even if it seems deceptively obvious at first glance.

Normally malware authors modify host files to tamper with search engine results or blacklist certain security software websites, but the Simda bot adds unexpected records for google-analytics.com and connect.facebook.net to point to malicious IPs.

KL detected the #Simda #bot as Backdoor.Win32.Simda, it affected hundreds thousands victims worldwide

Tweet

Why is that, one might ask? We don't know, but we believe that the answer is connected with Simda's core purpose – the distribution of other malware. This criminal business model opens up the possibility of exclusive malware distribution. This means that the distributors can guarantee that only the client's malware is installed on infected machines. And that becomes the case when Simda interprets a response from the C&C server - it can deactivate itself by preventing the bot to start after next reboot, instantly exiting. This deactivation coincides with the modification of the system hosts file. As a farewell touch, Simda replaces the original hosts file with a new one from its own body.

Now, curious mind may ask: how does it help them? Those domains are no longer used to generate search results, but machines infected by Simda in the past might occasionally continue to send out HTTP requests to malicious servers from time to time, even in when exclusive 3rd-party malware is supposed to have been installed.

We need to remember that these machines were initially infected by an exploit kit using a vulnerability in unpatched software. It's highly likely that 3rd-party malware will be removed over time, but a careless user may never get round to updating vulnerable software.

If all those hosts keep coming back to the malicious servers and asking for web resources such as javascript files, the criminals could use the same exploits to re-infect the machines and sell them all over again – perhaps even 'exclusively' to the original client. This confirms once again – even criminals can't trust criminals.

In this investigation Microsoft and various law enforcement bodies completed the sinkholing process and Kaspersky Lab willingly contributed to the preparations for the takedown. That work included technical analysis of malware, collecting infection statistics, advising on botnet takedown strategy and consulting our INTERPOL partners.

Kaspersky Lab detected the Simda bot as Backdoor.Win32.Simda and according to our estimations based on KSN statistics and telemetry from our partners it affected hundreds thousands victims worldwide.

Simda is automatically generated on demand and this is confirmed by the absence of any order in compilation link times. Below is a chart generated from a small subset of about 70 random Simda samples:

Samples link times in UTC timezone

The increase in link times is most likely related to the activity of the majority of Simda victims located somewhere between UTC-9 and UTC-5 timezones, which includes United States.

Thanks to the sinkhole operation and data sharing between partners we have put up a page where you can check if your IP has connected to Simda C&C servers in the past. If you suspect your computer was compromised you can use one of our free or trial solutions to scan your whole hard drive or install Kaspersky Internet Security for long-term protection.

Kaspersky Lab products currently detect hundreds of thousands of modifications of the Simda together with many different 3rd-party malware distributed during the Simda campaign.

References:

Darwin Nuke

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 07:00

In December 2014 we discovered a very interesting vulnerability in the Darwin kernel, which is an open source part of Apple's two operating systems: OS X and iOS. As a result, OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 are also at risk. This vulnerability is connected with the processing of an IP packet that has a specific size and invalid IP options. As a result, remote attackers can cause DoS (denial of service) of a device with OS X 10.10 or iOS 8 installed. It means that attackers can send just one incorrect network packet to the victim and the victim's system will crash.

OS X 10.10 crash after invalid network packet processing

Using vulnerability in the Darwin kernel attackers can cause DoS of a device with OS X 10.10 or iOS 8 installed

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While analyzing this vulnerability we've discovered that the following devices with 64-bit processors and iOS 8 installed are affected by this threat:

  • iPhone 5s and later models
  • iPad Air and later models
  • iPad mini 2 and later models

To understand the nature of this bug let's look at a crash dump:

Kernel stack trace

You can see from this trace that something went wrong in the icmp_error() function and it calls the panic function. This function tries to construct a new ICMP error message and resend it. This screenshot shows that the icmp_error was called after parsing packet options. The problem lies in this piece of code:

The cause of the problem

When the conditions laid down in the code are met, the panic function is engaged and the system is shut down in emergency mode. This happens because the internal kernel structures have been changed and the new buffer size is insufficient to store a newly-generated ICMP packet. To cause this, the IP packet must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The size of the IP header should be 60 bytes.
  • The size of the  IP payload should be at least 65 bytes
  • There should be errors in the IP options (invalid size of option, class, etc.)

Example of packet that cause a crash

At first glance it is not obvious how this bug could be exploited effectively. However, a true professional can easily use it to break down a user's device or even interrupt the work of a corporate network. Usually this kind of incorrect packet would be dropped by routers or firewalls but we discovered several combinations of incorrect IP options that can pass through the Internet routers.

This vulnerability no longer exists in OS X 10.10.3 and iOS 8.3. In addition, users of Kaspersky Lab's products are secured against this vulnerability in OS X 10.10 by the Network Attack Blocker feature. Starting from Kaspersky Internet Security for Mac 15.0, this threat is detected as DoS.OSX.Yosemite.ICMP.Error.exploit.

The Banking Trojan Emotet: Detailed Analysis

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 10:00

Introduction

In the summer of 2014, the company Trend Micro announced the detection of a new threat - the banking Trojan Emotet.  The description indicated that the malware could steal bank account details by intercepting traffic.  We call this modification version 1.

In the autumn of that year a new version of Emotet was found.  It caught our attention for the following reasons:

  • The developers of this Trojan had begun to use technology that stole money automatically from victims' bank accounts - so called "Automatic Transfer System (ATS)".
  • The Trojan had a modular structure: it contained its own installation module, a banking module, a spam bot module, a module for stealing address books from MS Outlook and a module for organizing DDoS attacks (Nitol DDoS bot).
  • The creators made a significant effort to remain unnoticed: they didn't attack users in the RU zone but targeted the clients of a small number of German and Austrian banks (other well-known banking Trojans are less discerning in their choice of target),and the domain name of the ATS server changed frequently (once or several times a day).

We are going to refer to this modification as Emotet version 2. The bot contains and transfers the numbers one and seven to the command and control center (C&C), which suggests that the Trojan's authors considers this variant to be version 1.7.

Both versions of the Trojan attacked clients of German and Austrian banks.

#Trojan #Emotet targeted the clients of a small number of German, Austrian and Swiss banks

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We closely monitored Emotet version 2.  In December 2014 it ceased activity and the command servers stopped responding to infected computers.  We recorded the last command sent from the command centers on 10/12/2014, at 11:33:43 Moscow time.

However, the thoroughness with which the authors had approached the development of this Trojan and the high level of automation in its operation, left little doubt that this was not the end of the story.  And so it turned out - after a short break in January 2015, Emotet reappeared!  We are calling this modification version 3 (the bot contains and transfers the numbers one and 16 to the C&C, which we assume means that the authors consider this variant to be version 1.16).

In essence, Emotet version 3 is not that different to version 2 - the main differences are designed to make the Trojan less visible. Of the changes we noted, we would like to highlight the following:

  • The Trojan has a new built-in public RSA key and, although the communication protocols with the command center are identical for Emotet versions 2 and 3, if the old key is used the bot does not receive the correct answer from the command center.
  • The ATS scripts are partially cleaned of debugging information and comments.
  • New targets! Emotet is now also targeting clients of Swiss banks.
  • There has been a slight change in the technology used to inject code into the address space of explorer.exe.  Version 2 used a classic model for code injection: OpenProcess+WriteProcessMemeory+CreateRemoteThread. Version 3 uses only two stages of the previous model:OpenProcess+WriteProcessMemory;  and the injected code is initiated with the help of modified code of the ZwClose function in the address space of the explorer.exe process, which is also achieved using WriteProcessMemory.
  • Emotet version 3 resists investigation: if the Trojan detects that it has been started in a virtual machine it functions as usual but uses a different address list for the command centers.  However, all these addresses are false and are used only to mislead investigators.
  • The Trojan contains very few lines of text:  all lines that could warn investigators are encrypted using RC4 and are decrypted in allocated memory directly before use and deleted after use.

On the whole, we formed the impression that the main techniques used in version 3 of the banking Trojan were developed "in the field" using version 2 as a basis, and with the addition of improved stealth techniques.

Kaspersky Lab products detect all versions of this Trojan as Trojan-Banker.Win32.Emotet.  We also detect the following  modulesof Emotet:

  • Module for modifying HTTP(S) traffic - Trojan-Banker.Win32.Emotet.
  • Spam module - Trojan.Win32.Emospam.
  • Module for the collection of email addresses - Trojan.Win32.Emograbber.
  • Module for stealing email account data - Trojan-PSW.Win32.Emostealer.
  • Module designed for organising DDoS attacks — Trojan.Win32.ServStart.

We have seen the last module used with other malware and assume that it was added to Emotet by a cryptor.  It is quite possible that Emotet's authors are totally unaware of the presence of this module in their malware.  Whatever the case may be, the command centers of this module do not respond and the module has not been updated (its compilation date is 19 October 2014).

Infection

We currently know of only one method of distribution for the Emotet banking Trojan: distribution of spam mailings that include malicious attachments or links.

The attached files are usually ZIP archives containing the Emotet loader.  The files in the archives have long names, e.g. rechnung_november_2014_11_0029302375471_03_44_0039938289.exe.  This is done on purpose: a user opening the archive in a standard Windows panel might not see the extension .exe, as the end of the file name might not be displayed.  Sometimes there is no attachment and the text in the main body of the email contains a link to a malicious executable file or archive.

#Emotet banking #Trojan is distributed of spam mailings that include malicious attachments or links

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Examples of emails used to spread Emotet are given below.

Version 2 (link to malware):

Version 2 (attached archive):

Version 3 (link to malware):


The emails we found are almost identical to ones from well-known companies – for example Deutsche Telekom AG and DHL International GmbH.  Even the images contained in the messages are loaded from the official servers telekom.de and dhl.com, respectively.

When the email contains a link to malware, it downloads it from the addresses of compromised legitimate sites:

hxxp://*******/82nBRaLiv (for version 2)
or from the addresses
hxxp://*******/dhl_paket_de_DE and hxxp://*******/dhl_paket_de_DE (for version 3).

In Emotet version 3, when addresses are contacted with the form hxxp://*/dhl_paket_de_DE, the user receives a ZIP archive of the following form hxxp://*/dhl_paket_de_DE_26401756290104624513.zip.

The archive contains an exe-file with a long name (to hide the extension) and a PDF document icon.

Loading the Trojan

The Trojan file is packed by a cryptor, the main purpose of which is to avoid detection by anti-virus programs.  After being started and processed by the cryptor, control is passed to the main Emotet module - the loader.  This has to embed itself in the system, link with the command server, download additional modules and then run them.

Consolidation in the system is fairly standard — Emotet version 2 saves itself in %APPDATA%\Identities with a random name of eight characters (for example — wlyqvago.exe); adds itself to the autoloader (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run) and  then deletes its source file with the help of a launched bat-file that is created in %APPDATA% with the name "ms[7_random_numbers].bat.

Emotet version 3 saves itself in %APPDATA%\Microsoft\ with a name in the format msdb%x.exe" (for example – C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Microsoft\msdbfe1b033.exe); adds itself to the autoloader (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run) and then deletes itself with the help of a launched bat-file (which is created in %APPDATA%\del%x.bat).

After consolidating itself in the system, Emotet obtains a list of the names of all processes running and calculates a hash from the name of every function, comparing the resulting value with the hardcoded  0xB316A779 (this hash corresponds to the process explorer.exe).  In this way, Emotet locates the process into which to inject itself.  Further, the Trojan unpacks its main code and injects it into the process explorer.exe.

Communication with the command center

The main module of the Trojan, the loader, communicates with the C&C using RC4 encryption.

The port used by the loader is hardcoded into it - 8080.

Command center addresses

The IP addresses of Emotet's command-and-control servers are hardcoded into the bot. There are several of these – one of the version 2 samples that we analyzed included 30 (note that 3 addresses on the list below belong to well-known legitimate resources):

hxxp://109.123.78.10
hxxp://66.54.51.172
hxxp://108.161.128.103
hxxp://195.210.29.237
hxxp://5.35.249.46
hxxp://5.159.57.195
hxxp://206.210.70.175
hxxp://88.80.187.139
hxxp://188.93.174.136
hxxp://130.133.3.7
hxxp://162.144.79.192
hxxp://79.110.90.207
hxxp://72.18.204.17
hxxp://212.129.13.110
hxxp://66.228.61.248
hxxp://193.171.152.53
hxxp://129.187.254.237
hxxp://178.248.200.118
hxxp://133.242.19.182
hxxp://195.154.243.237
hxxp://80.237.133.77
hxxp://158.255.238.163
hxxp://91.198.174.192
hxxp://46.105.236.18
hxxp://205.186.139.105
hxxp://72.10.49.117
hxxp://133.242.54.221
hxxp://198.1.66.98
hxxp://148.251.11.107
hxxp://213.208.154.110

In the sample of version 3 we investigated there were 19 command centers:

hxxp://192.163.245.236
hxxp://88.80.189.50
hxxp://185.46.55.88
hxxp://173.255.248.34
hxxp://104.219.55.50
hxxp://200.159.128.19
hxxp://198.23.78.98
hxxp://70.32.92.133
hxxp://192.163.253.154
hxxp://192.138.21.214
hxxp://106.187.103.213
hxxp://162.144.80.214
hxxp://128.199.214.100
hxxp://69.167.152.111
hxxp://46.214.107.142
hxxp://195.154.176.172
hxxp://106.186.17.24
hxxp://74.207.247.144
hxxp://209.250.6.60

Communication with the C&C when run in a virtual machine

Emotet version 3 contains another list of "command center" addresses, as given below:

hxxp://142.34.138.90
hxxp://74.217.254.29
hxxp://212.48.85.224
hxxp://167.216.129.13
hxxp://91.194.151.38
hxxp://162.42.207.58
hxxp://104.28.17.67
hxxp://8.247.6.134
hxxp://5.9.189.24
hxxp://78.129.213.41
hxxp://184.86.225.91
hxxp://107.189.160.196
hxxp://88.208.193.123
hxxp://50.56.135.44
hxxp://184.106.3.194
hxxp://185.31.17.144
hxxp://67.19.105.107
hxxp://218.185.224.231

The Trojan tries to contact these addresses if it detects that it is being run in a virtual machine.  But none of the addresses correspond to the bot's command centers, and the bot is therefore unsuccessful in trying to establish contact with them. This is probably done to confuse any investigators and give them the impression that the Trojan command centers are dead.  A similar approach was used previously in the high-profile banking Trojan, Citadel.

#Trojan #Emotet tries to contact the wrong addresses of the C&C if it is being run in a virtual machine

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The detection of a virtual machine is organized quite simply — by the names of processes that are usual for various virtual machines.  The following algorithm is used to calculate a hash value from the name of every process in the system:

Algorithm for calculation of a hash value from a process name

The resulting hash value is then compared with a list of values hardcoded into the Trojan:

Hashes from the names of processes used for the detection of virtual machines

We derived the names of the processes for several hashes. For example, hash 0xBCF398B5 corresponds to the process vboxservice.exe, hash 0x2C967737 to the process vmacthlp.exe, hash 0xE3EBFE44 to the process vmtoolsd.exe, and 0x61F15513 to the process vboxtray.exe.

Data transferred

A request to the command center appears in the traffic as follows (the example given is from version 2, but a version 3 request looks the same):

Dialogue between the Emotet bot and its command center

The URL-path that the bot communicates with appears as follows: /722ffc5e/355c7a0a/, where 722ffc5e is a number calculated on the basis of information from the access marker of the user, and  0x355c7a0a = 0x722ffc5e xor 0x47738654 (the value 0x47738654 is hardcoded into the bot).

The data sent by the bot and the command center are encrypted using RC4 and the answers received from the command center are signed with a digital signature.  Probably this is done to make it difficult to seize control over the botnet: in order for the bot to accept a packet it must be signed and for that it is necessary to know the secret key.

There is a public RSA key in the body of the bot. In PEM format for version 2 it appears as follows:

PEM representation of the open RSA key coded into the bot in version 2

As noted above, in version 3 the key changed.  In PEM format it looks like this:

PEM representation of the open RSA key coded into the bot in version 3

A packet sent to the server is made up as follows:

  • A request is generated containing the identifier of the infected computer, a value presumably indicating the version of the bot; information about the system (OS version, service pack version, product type); a hardcoded dword (value in the investigated sample — seven); control sums for the banker module; and information about the web-injects.  Information about the web-injects contains: a page address (with jokers), into which the injection is needed; data coming before the injected data; data coming after injected data; and injected data.
  • An SHA1 hash is calculated from the generated request.
  • The request is encrypted with a randomly generated 128 bit RC4 key.
  • The generated RC4 key is encrypted using the public RSA key.
  • The total packet is the concatenation of the results obtained at steps 4, 2 and 3.

The request packet can be represented by the following diagram:

Structure of a request from the bot to the server

In response the server sends a packet with the following structure:

Structure of the server's answer to the bot

The answer can contain information about the Emotet web-injects, Emotet modules and links for loading external modules (for example a spam bot or an updated loader).

Modules

Like most modern banking Trojans, Emotet has a modular structure.  To date we have detected the following modules:

Name Description Method of delivery to infected system loader loader In spam emails or by downloading via a link from a compromised site (for updates). nitol-like-ddos-module DDoS-bot mss Spam module Downloaded from compromised sites by the loader module. email_accounts_grabber Email account grabber, uses Mail PassView – a legitimate program designed for recovering forgotten passwords and mail accounts Received by the loader module in the answer packet from the command center. banker Module for modifying HTTP(S)-traffic Received by the loader module in the answer packet from the command center. outlook_grabber Outlook address book grabber Received by the loader module in the answer packet from the command center.

Several modules can work independently of the loader module, as they don't need to import anything from it.

The whole arrangement of the bot is evidence of a high level of automation: new email addresses are collected automatically from the victims' address books, spam with the Emotet loader is sent automatically, and money is transferred automatically from the user.  Operator participation is kept to a minimum.

As an example, here is the report of the outlook_grabber module sent to the attacker (from Emotet version 2) with a stolen Outlook address book:

A stolen Outlook address book, transferred to the criminals' server

One positive note is that when trying to contact one of the attackers' servers an answer is obtained containing "X-Sinkhole: Malware sinkhole", meaning that the stolen data will not reach the criminals — this domain, which is used by Emotet version 2, is no longer controlled by the authors of the Trojan.

However, for version 3 things are different.  This is how the report of the email_accounts_grabber module appears for Emotet version 3:

Report containing data about the user's email accounts

It is clear that the server answers "200 OK". This means that the criminals have successfully received the data.

Stand and Deliver!

Information about the data for injection into the page that is received by Emotet after unpacking appears as follows:

Decrypted data on the web-injects of Emotet version 2

Decrypted data in the web-injects of Emotet version 3

The significant difference in data on injects between the two versions is as follows: Emotet version 3 is aimed at the clients of Swiss credit organizations.  To date we have not seen scripts for the automatic stealing of money from clients' accounts in these credit organizations but we are certain that such scripts will be written soon.

Although individual fragments of HTML code in the decrypted packet can be read easily, understanding the rules for use of the web-injects from the deciphered data is difficult.  Below, in JSON format, several web-inject rules are given for one target — the site of a German bank (Emotet version 2).

The web-inject rules for the site of a German bank (Emotet version 2)

The use of this web-inject leads to the creation of a new element of type 'div', which will have the size of the whole visible page, and to the addition of a new script in the HTML document.  In the example given the script is loaded from the address hxxps://*******.eu/birten/luck.php?lnk=js&id=44.

And an analogous view of several inject rules for a new target — the site of a large Austrian bank (Emotet version 3).

The web-inject rules for the site of an Austrian bank (Emotet version 3)

It is clear that the configuration file with the web-injects has a classic structure, using fields conventionally called  data_before, data_after and data_inject.

It should be noted that the address of the host on which the file luck.php (for version 2) and a_00.php (for version 3) is located is changed frequently.  The rest of the address of the script is constant.

If the investigator tries the script directly, only an error message is received.  However, in a real attack when the line

is added to the real bank page, the script loads successfully.

This happens because the criminals' server checks the "Referer" field of the header of the HTTP request and sends the script only if the request came from a page of one of the banks attacked by Emotet.

Having supplied the necessary Referrer one can easily obtain the script code.

At Kaspersky Lab we obtained scripts designed for injection into the pages of the attacked banks.

Table 1.  Targets of Emotet version 2, types of attacks and the identification numbers of scripts loaded for carrying out these attacks.

Table 2. Targets of Emotet version 3, types of attacks and the identification numbers of scripts loaded for carrying out these attacks.

In one of the scripts of Emotet version 2 that was used to attack a German bank the comments contain the following line:

Artifact from the script for an attack on a German bank (Emotet version 2)

Clearly the script developers speak Russian.

Getting round two-factor authentication

The main purpose of the scripts looked at above is to carry out the illicit transfer of money from the user's account.  However the bot cannot independently get round the system of two-factor authentication (Chip TAN or SMS TAN), it needs the user's help.  To mislead the potential victim, social engineering techniques are used: the message injected into the webpage using the script informs the user that the site is introducing a new security system and normal operations cannot be continued until the user has tested it in the demo-regime.

False message about new security system

This is followed by a request to enter real data from the Chip TAN or SMS TAN to carry out a "test transfer":

And finally - congratulations that the task has been completed successfully:

In fact, instead of a test transfer the malicious script carries out a real transfer of money from the victim's account to the account of a nominated person — the so-called "drop", and the user themselves confirms this transfer using the Chip TAN or SMS TAN.

Details of the accounts for the transfer of the stolen money are not initially indicated in the script, but are received from the command server of the criminals using a special request.  In reply the command server returns a line with information about the "drop" for each specific transaction.  In the comments in one script we found the following line:

Clearly the criminals tested this script with a transfer of 1500.9 EUR to a test account.

In addition, this script contained the following information about the drop:

In the corresponding script in Emotet version 3, designed to attack the same bank, we also found information on the drop, but this time another one:

Let's compare the fields JSON __DropParam and the fields in the legitimate form from a demo-access to the online system of the attacked bank.

Online banking form for transfer of money within Germany or in the SEPA zone

Table 3. Relationship between the drop data and the fields in the form for transfer of money and explanations of these fields

Name of fields in the __DropParam JSON Name of corresponding field in the form Translation Field contents name Empfängername Name of recipient Real name of drop who will receive the stolen money ibanorkonto IBAN/Konto-Nr. International bank account number/ account number Account number, international or local, to which money will be transferred bicorblz BIC/BLZ BIC or BLZ code International bank identification code or identification code used by German and Austrian banks (Bankleitzahl) description Verwendungszweck Purpose Purpose of payment amount Betrag Amount Transferred amount

The JSON __DropParam fields correspond to the fields in the form.

In this way the bot receives all the necessary information about the drop from its server and draws up a transfer to it, and the misled user confirms the transfer using the Chip TAN or SMS TAN and waves goodbye to their money. 

Conclusion

The Emotet Trojan is a highly automated and developing, territorially-targeted bank threat. Its small size, the dispersal methods used and the modular architecture, all make Emotet a very effective weapon for the cyber-criminal.

The #Emotet #Trojan is a highly automated and developing, territorially-targeted bank threat

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However this banking Trojan doesn't incorporate conceptually new technology and so the use of a modern anti-virus program can provide an effective defense against the threat.

Furthermore, the Trojan cannot function effectively without the participation of the user — the Emotet creators have actively used social engineering techniques to achieve their criminal ends.

And so the alertness and technical awareness of the user, together with the use of a modern anti-virus program can provide reliable protection against not only Emotet but other` new banking threats working in a similar way.

Some MD5 hashes

Emotet version 2:
7c401bde8cafc5b745b9f65effbd588f
34c10ae0b87e3202fea252e25746c32d
9ab7b38da6eee714680adda3fdb08eb6
ae5fa7fa02e7a29e1b54f407b33108e7
1d4d5a1a66572955ad9e01bee0203c99
cdb4be5d62e049b6314058a8a27e975d
642a9becd99538738d6e0a7ebfbf2ef6
aca8bdbd8e79201892f8b46a3005744b
9b011c8f47d228d12160ca7cd6ca9c1f
6358fae78681a21dd26f63e8ac6148cc
ac49e85de3fced88e3e4ef78af173b37
c0f8b2e3f1989b93f749d8486ce6f609
1561359c46a2df408f9860b162e7e13b
a8ca1089d442543933456931240e6d45

Emotet version 3:
177ae9a7fc02130009762858ad182678
1a6fe1312339e26eb5f7444b89275ebf
257e82d6c0991d8bd2d6c8eee4c672c7
3855724146ff9cf8b9bbda26b828ff05
3bac5797afd28ac715605fa9e7306333
3d28b10bcf3999a1b317102109644bf1
4e2eb67aa36bd3da832e802cd5bdf8bc
4f81a713114c4180aeac8a6b082cee4d
52f05ee28bcfec95577d154c62d40100
772559c590cff62587c08a4a766744a7
806489b327e0f016fb1d509ae984f760
876a6a5252e0fc5c81cc852d5b167f2b
94fa5551d26c60a3ce9a10310c765a89
A5a86d5275fa2ccf8a55233959bc0274
b43afd499eb90cee778c22969f656cd2
b93a6ee991a9097dd8992efcacb3b2f7
ddd7cdbc60bd0cdf4c6d41329b43b4ce
e01954ac6d0009790c66b943e911063e
e49c549b95dbd8ebc0930ad3f147a4b9
ea804a986c02d734ad38ed0cb4d157a7

The author would like to express his thanks to Vladimir Kuskov, Oleg Kupreev and Yury Namestnikov for their assistance in the preparation of this article.

A flawed ransomware encryptor

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 06:00

In the middle of last year, my colleagues published a blogpost about a new generation of ransomware programs based on encryptor Trojans, and used the example of the Onion family (also known as CTB-Locker) to analyze how these programs work.

Last autumn, we discovered the first sample of an interesting new encryptor, TorLocker (this is the original name given by the creator); later on, TorLocker was used to launch an attack on Japanese users. When it was discovered on 24 October, 2014, the proactive components in Kaspersky Lab's products already detected this piece of malware; later on, it was assigned the verdict 'Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper'.

Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper encrypts the victim's documents and demands a ransom ($300 or greater) to decrypt them

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All the TorLocker samples that we have obtained belong to one of two versions: 1.0.1 (in English) or 2.0 (in English and Japanese.) There are only slight differences between them: 1) in the method employed to obfuscate code, and 2) in the sources used for additional modules: in the first version, the additional modules are extracted from the data section, while in the second version, they are downloaded from the Internet (from file hosting services or from compromised sites). Also in the second version, some strings were relocated from the data section into the code section, and dangling (redundant, not used) bytes emerged. The file encryption algorithm is the same in both versions.

Common features and peculiarities of this malware family

Our analysis has shown that Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper was presumably written in assembler, which is unusual for this type of malware. The Trojan uses the Tor network to contact its "owners" – something that is apparently becoming a norm for the new generation of ransomware – and the proxy server polipo. This piece of malware often lands on users' computers via the Andromeda botnet.

Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper encrypts the victim's documents and demands a ransom ($300 or greater) to decrypt them. If the malware gets deleted by a security product after the files are encrypted, the Trojan installs bright red wallpaper on the Desktop, containing a link to its executable file. Thus, users have a chance to re-install the Trojan and report to its owners that they have paid the ransom: to do so, users need to enter payment details in a dedicated TorLocker window. This data will be sent to the C&C server which will either reply with a private RSA key or notify that there was no payment.

This typical representative of the Scraper family is packed with UPX. The data section is additionally encrypted with AES with a 256-bit key. In the code section, between the assembler instructions, there are a large number of redundant bytes that are not used in any way.

The redundant bytes in the encryptor's body

The method of submitting string arguments to functions is just as unusual. The strings are located directly in the code section; in order to submit a string as an argument to a function, the pointer to that string is placed into the stack by way of calling (using the 'call' instruction) the instruction following the string. As a result, the return address (which is identical to the pointer to the string) is placed into the stack:

Handling string constants as arguments to functions

Operating principles

Once launched, the Trojan starts by decrypting its data section with a 256-bit AES key. The first 4 bytes of this key are used as a sample ID, added to the end of the encrypted files. Then the Trojan is copied to a temporary folder, and a registry key for that copy's autorun is created in the following registry section:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]

Next the Trojan creates several threads to do the following:

  • Search for and terminate the taskmgr.exe, regedit.exe, procexp.exe, procexp64.exe processes.
  • Delete all system recovery points.
  • Encrypt the user's office documents, video and audio files, images, archives, databases, backup copies, virtual machines encryption keys, certificates and other files on all hard and network drives, except files located in the folders %windir%, %temp%. The names and extensions of encrypted files remain unchanged.
  • Here is the complete list of file extensions that are encrypted:
    .3gp .7z .accdb .ai .aiff .arw .avi .backup .bay .bin .blend .cdr .cer .cr2 .crt .crw .dat .dbf .dcr .der .dit .dng .doc .docm .docx .dwg .dxf .dxg .edb .eps .erf .flac .gif .hdd .indd .jpe .jpg .jpeg .kdc .kwm .log .m2ts .m4p .mdb .mdf .mef .mkv .mov .mp3 .mp4 .mpg .mpeg .mrw .ndf .nef .nrw .nvram .odb .odm .odp .ods .odt .ogg .orf .p12 .p7b .p7c .pdd .pdf .pef .pem .pfx .pif .png .ppt .pptm .pptx .psd .pst .ptx .pwm .qcow .qcow2 .qed .r3d .raf .rar .raw .rtf .rvt .rw2 .rwl .sav .sql .srf .srw .stm .txt .vbox .vdi .vhd .vhdx .vmdk .vmsd .vmx .vmxf .vob .wav .wb2 .wma .wmv .wpd .wps .xlk .xls .xlsb .xlsm .xlsx .zip
  • Extract a BMP image, save it to a temporary folder and then set it as desktop wallpaper:
  • Download tor.exe and polipo.exe, the files required to communicate with C&C servers, from the links specified in the Trojan's configuration (in the case of TorLocker 2.0) or extract them from the data section (in case of TorLocker 1.0). Then tor.exe is launched with the following arguments: tor.exe -SOCKSPort 9150 -AvoidDiskWrites 1 -ExcludeSingleHopRelays 0 -FascistFirewall 1 -DirReqStatistics 0

    polipo.exe is launched in the following configuration:

    127.0.0.1:57223 proxyPort = 57223 socksParentProxy = 127.0.0.1:9150 socksProxyType = socks5
  • Create a GUI window demanding that the victim pays the creators of Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper and display the window in the top left corner of the screen. It supports payment via BitCoin, UKash and PaySafeCard.

    To encourage the user to pay the ransom to the Trojan's owners faster, the Trojan threatens to delete the private key required to decrypt the files if the user fails to send the money within a certain time period. In reality, the RSA keys are not deleted. They are associated with the malware sample rather than with a specific user, so the same RSA key is used for several users at the same time.

  • The IP address of the victim computer is determined using www.iplocation.net, www.seuip.com.br, whatismyipaddress.com, or checkip.dyndns.org.
  • Establish a connection to the C&C server in the onion domain via the proxy server polipo 127.0.0.1:57223. If the victim user has paid the ransom to the extorters, then, after contacting the C&C server and sending the information about the client (the selected RSA key, the number of encrypted files, the client's IP address and ID, the selected method of payment and the number of the bank card), the Trojan then receives the private RSA key with which to decrypt the files – in this case, a file decryption thread is created. Otherwise, a message is sent that the payment has not been effected yet. In each sample of Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper?, a few dozens C&C domain names are hardcoded; they are not updated and may lead to the same C&C server.
Encryption

When launching, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper chooses one of the 128 public RSA keys hardcoded in it, depending on the victim computer's name and the serial number of the logical drive. The number (n) of the public RSA key is calculated as following:

n = (VolumeSerialNumber * strlen(ComputerName)) mod 128,
where strlen(ComputerName) is the length of the computer's name, and VolumeSerialNumber is the serial number of the logical drive on which Winsow is installed.

Each sample contains its own set of public keys.

The user's files are encrypted with AES-256 with a randomly generated one-time key; an individual encryption key is created for each file. Then, a 512-byte service section is added to the end of each file, which consists of 32 bytes of padding, 4 bytes of the Trojan's identifier, and 476 bytes of the employed AES key encrypted with RSA-2048.

If the file size is greater than 512 MB + 1 byte, then of the first 512 MB of the file get encrypted. The encrypted data is written on top of the original, non-encrypted data; no new file is created, and the old file is not deleted.

The Structure of an encrypted file

The Trojan does not need Internet access to encrypt the files.

Packing

In order to obstruct the analysis, some of the detected samples of Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper were additionally packed with the KazyLoader and KazyRootkit protectors along with UPX.

KazyLoader is a two-stage protector of executable files, written in .NET Framework. The protected executable is encrypted with AES, and then placed into the protector's assets section as a color palette of a BMP image.

The image decryption module is encrypted by XORing with one byte, then divided into parts and also placed into the protector assets section in the form of strings LOADER0, LOADER1, … LOADER272.

The KazyRootkit protector is also written in .NET Framework and has a feature that can conceal processes in the Task Manager (taskmgr.exe) and conceal registry keys in the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) by deleting strings from ListView GUI elements with the help of WinAPI. Depending on its configuration, the protector may shut down without unpacking the file embedded in it, if it detects any of Sandboxie, Wireshark, WPE PRO or a code emulator.

Although Scraper (TorLocker) encrypts all files with AES-256 + RSA-2048, in 70%+ cases they can be decrypted

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The file to be protected is encrypted by XORing with a certain key, and then injected into the protector's process. A large array of random bytes is stored in the protector's overlay.

Partnership program

Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper's builder (i.e. the program with which to create new samples of the Trojan with specified configuration) is distributed via a partnership program and sold for a few bitcoins. We found two posts about selling the builder for TorLocker 2.0 in the 'Evolution' (now taken down) underground online store:


The published screenshot of the builder suggests that the cybercriminal can change some of the encryptor's settings, as follows:

  • Allow or block the launch of Task Manager or Process Explorer after infection;
  • Allow or block the use of payment systems like BitCoin, PaySafeCard and Ukash to pay the ransom;
  • Allow or block the removal of Windows recovery points;
  • Modify the links from which to download tor.exe and polipo.exe; modify the names of these files after they are downloaded.

A screenshot of the builder's window

On the underground e-store's website, there are 11 reviews of the vendor of the Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper builder, posted between 8 May 2014 and 17 January 2015.

By way of advertisement, news links are published about successful attacks performed using Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper.

A brief description of TorLocker's operating principles and a comparison with CryptoLocker is also provided.

Decryption

At the decryption stage, when the ransom payment is received, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper contacts the cybercriminals' C&C servers via the Tor network and the polipo proxy server, to receive a private RSA key. With this key, the Trojan decrypts the AES key for each encrypted file, and then decrypts the files.

Although Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scraper encrypts all files with AES-256 + RSA-2048, in 70%+ cases they can be decrypted because of the errors made during the implementation of cryptography algorithms. To restore the original files, Kaspersky Lab has developed the ScraperDecryptor utility, which can be downloaded from Kaspersky Lab's technical support website.

Blockchain technology abuse: time to think about fixes

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 06:57

Kaspersky Lab and INTERPOL recently presented research on how blockchain-based cryptocurrencies could be abused through the pollution of public decentralized databases with arbitrary data.  During our presentation at the BlackHat Asia conference in Singapore, we demonstrated the proof-of-concept using the Bitcoin network, but it's important to understand that any cryptocurrency that relies on blockchain technology can be abused in this way.

Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies could be abused through the pollution of p2p databases with arbitrary data

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Some believe that security researchers, especially those from the anti-malware industry, generally only publish threat reports after the discovery of a threat in the wild.  However, this is not always true.  Our current research focuses on potential future threats that could be prevented before cryptocurrencies are fully adopted and standardized. While we generally support the idea of blockchain-based innovations, we think that, as part of the security community, it is our duty to help developers make such technologies fit-for-purpose and sustainable.

Blockchainware, short for blockchain-based software, stores some of its executable code in the decentralized databases of cryptocurrency transactions. It is based on the idea of establishing a connection to the P2P networks of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, fetching information from transaction records and running it as code. Depending on the payload fetched from the network, it can be either benign or malicious.

The proof-of-concept code we demonstrated was a benign piece of software

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To ensure the accurate interpretation of our research, we would like to point out that in the anti-malware industry, there is a clear definition of what constitutes malware, and there are extremely strict policies in place that forbid any attempts to create or distribute malware. The proof-of-concept code we demonstrated was a benign piece of software that opened the Notepad application after getting a confirmation from the user.

So, what exactly did we demonstrate at BlackHat Asia?   See for yourself at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNsqXHbeMco

As we pointed out during our presentation, possible solutions can be introduced at different layers. From the perspective of a company developing endpoint security solutions, we don't believe it's too much trouble to blacklist applications that load unpredictable external payload from a P2P network.

We believe that the value of solution development lies in its neutrality and decentralized decision-making

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However, from the perspective of the cryptocurrency network, it's still an open question. We are not the experts in this field, and are therefore not best placed to propose effective solutions.  We also don't want to promote any specific solution as we believe that the value of solution development (as in the case of Bitcoin) lies in its neutrality and decentralized decision-making.

That's why we suggest this is a project for the cryptocurrency community.

We don't promote any specific solution. We suggest this is a project for the cryptocurrency community

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As a starting point for opening a discussion in the community, we suggest looking for an opportunity to implement a network consensus/negotiation algorithm that will sustain the clean state of the blockchain.

I would like to credit my co-speaker, Christian Karam (@ck4r4m), Cyber Threat Researcher from Interpol for coming up with idea for this research and going all the way to the stage at Blackhat and beyond.

Don't Feel Left Out: Ransomware for IT Security Enthusiasts!

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 05:45

Macros are so hot right now

It's getting dark outside and our favorite mail client beeps with excitement for a new missive in our inbox, something interesting perhaps? A rapid glimpse at the contents of the message should indicate that a malicious campaign will play the starring role in what follows. An included attachment reveals itself as a malicious document with password-protected embedded macros. Moreover, a quick analysis of the file shows that it's dropping an executable payload to the system, which further piques our interest in this devious sample:

After opening the file, and only once the victim has been lured into enabling macros,  a seemingly innocuous Word document is shown.

File metadata betrays the developer's rush in crafting this file, using the Russian language letters "фыв" to fill the tags section:

"фыв" corresponds to the "asd" letter combination on Latin keyboards so often used as mindless filler.

Delving into the code

The second stage malicious script containing the instructions is downloaded from a public entry hosted on Pastebin in base64 encoding mode.

The full instruction set is 101 lines long and at the time of writing it counts with more than 5k reads. So this seems like a reliable indicator of the number of potential infections by this malware.

It is important to mention that upon discovery of the initial malicious document, Virustotal showed a null detection rate (however, the executable payload itself was detected by Kaspersky as Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign.mdst)

The decoded script looks like this:

The decoded base64 payload downloaded from Pastebin fetches a file that includes several tokens to be used by the beckoning VBS script. Each token represents a section of the code that needs to be called in a specific order to achieve infection. The sections are named using a generic convention such as 'text20', 'text21', 'stext1', etc. Using the 'Tort' function implemented in the VBS script module, the instructions are deobfuscated and then outputted for execution.

The payload Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign.mdst connects to an onion-based domain via the Tor2Web service

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In the case of the ' ' section, we can find a PowerShell script being called using the '-noexit' option, which according to Microsoft's Technet documentation is commonly used when running scripts via the command prompt (cmd.exe) so as to avoid exiting after execution. It's worth mentioning the second parameter, which sets the execution policy to bypass mode. Interestingly, by using a simple command line option this malicious creation is able to bypass the PowerShell execution policy configured in the system.

The file set for execution by PowerShell is also set by the original VBS script. A simple yet annoying obfuscation is in charge of getting the final string to be passed as a parameter.

As per the instructions above, the 'currentFile' variable will be replaced by the value of Chr(34) or a quotation mark, and the value of the variables PH2, FL2 and another static text value. Both PH2 and FL2 variables are set at the beginning of the execution of the script, FL2 being the random text used to name several files inside a temporary location set by PH2.

Even though the mechanism is not very complex, we can see that the malware writers took any measures available to slow down analysis and hide the real purpose of their code, even if by virtue of being a script it should be human readable.

We already reported the abusive Pastebin URL.

Payload

The payload is a binary PE file (self-extracting archive or SFX) named "file.exe". Upon execution, "file.exe" is copied to "C:\Windows\System32\WinSrv32.exe" and deleted from its original calling location. Persistence in the infected system is obtained via a registry key written in the following branch "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run".

This payload connects to an onion-based domain via the Tor2Web service.

The mention of a hostname refers to the front-facing side of the um6fsdil5ecma5kf.onion domain that serves as a C2 of the payload malware.

Detection names for malware 239d4f67692a5883574e3c496d88979c logmein_coupon.doc Trojan-Downloader.MsWord.Agent.hz 41d605b3981f330bd893b2dfd6e1d890 file.exe Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Foreign.mdst

Sinkholing Volatile Cedar DGA Infrastructure

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 16:35

There is currently some buzz about the Volatile Cedar APT activity in the Middle East, a group that deploys not only custom built RATs, but USB propagation components, as reported by Check Point [pdf]. If you are interested in learning more about this APT, we recommend checking their paper first.

One interesting feature of the backdoors used by this group is their ability to first connect to a set of static updater command and control (C2) servers, which then redirect to other C2. When they cannot connect to their hardcoded static C2, they fall back to a DGA algorithm, and cycle through other domains to connect with.

Statistics:

This particular actor's true impact seemed interesting, so we sinkholed some of their dynamically generated command and control infrastructure. These victim statistics present a somewhat surprising profile. Almost all of these victims are geolocated in Lebanon.

Victims checking in to DGA c2

Clearly, the bulk of the victims we observe are all communicating from ip ranges maintained by ISPs in Lebanon. And most of the other checkins appear to be research related. Almost all of the backdoors communicating with sinkholed domains are the main "explosion" backdoor. But, some of the victim systems in Lebanon communicating with our sinkhole are running the very rare "micro" backdoor written up by our colleagues from Checkpoint in their paper: "Micro is a rare Explosive version. It can best be described as a completely different version of the Trojan, with similarities to the rest of Explosive "family" (such as configuration and code base). We believe that Micro is actually an old ancestor of Explosive, from which all other versions were developed. As in other versions, this version is also dependent on a self-developed DLL named "wnhelp.dll." They check in to edortntexplore[.]info with the URI "/micro/data/index.php?micro=4" over port 443.

While Volatile Cedar certainly does not have a high level of technological prowess, it appears that they have been effective at spreading their malware, much like the Madi APT we reported on mid-2012. Because the group is not known for spearphishing, IT administrators should be aware of their own publicly exposed attack surface like web applications, ftp servers, ssh servers, etc, and ensure they are not vulnerable to SQLi, SSI attacks, and other server side offensive activity.

Kaspersky Verdicts and MD5s:

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.a
981234d969a4c5e6edea50df009efedd

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.b
7031426fb851e93965a72902842b7c2c

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.c
6f11a67803e1299a22c77c8e24072b82

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.d
eb7042ad32f41c0e577b5b504c7558ea

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.e
61b11b9e6baae4f764722a808119ed0c

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.f
c7ac6193245b76cc8cebc2835ee13532
184320a057e455555e3be22e67663722

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.g
5d437eb2a22ec8f37139788f2087d45d

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.i
7dbc46559efafe8ec8446b836129598c

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.j
c898aed0ab4173cc3ac7d4849d06e7fa

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.k
9a5a99def615966ea05e3067057d6b37

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.l
1dcac3178a1b85d5179ce75eace04d10

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.m
22872f40f5aad3354bbf641fe90f2fd6

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.n
2b9106e8df3aa98c3654a4e0733d83e7

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.o
08c988d6cebdd55f3b123f2d9d5507a6

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.p
1d4b0fc476b7d20f1ef590bcaa78dc5d

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.q
c9a4317f1002fefcc7a250c3d76d4b01

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.r
4f8b989bc424a39649805b5b93318295

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.s
3f35c97e9e87472030b84ae1bc932ffc

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.t
7cd87c4976f1b34a0b060a23faddbd19

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.u
ea53e618432ca0c823fafc06dc60b726

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.v
034e4c62965f8d5dd5d5a2ce34a53ba9

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.w
5ca3ac2949022e5c77335f7e228db1d8

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.x
ab3d0c748ced69557f78b7071879e50a

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.y
5b505d0286378efcca4df38ed4a26c90

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.z
e6f874b7629b11a2f5ed3cc2c123f8b6

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.aa
306d243745ba53d09353b3b722d471b8

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.ab
740c47c663f5205365ae9fb08adfb127

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.ac
c19e91a91a2fa55e869c42a70da9a506

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.ad
edaca6fb1896a120237b2ce13f6bc3e6

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.ae
d2074d6273f41c34e8ba370aa9af46ad

Trojan.Win32.Explosion.af
66e2adf710261e925db588b5fac98ad8
29eca6286a01c0b684f7d5f0bfe0c0e6
2783cee3aac144175fef308fc768ea63
f58f03121eed899290ed70f4d19af307

Trojan.Win32.Agent.adsct
826b772c81f41505f96fc18e666b1acd

Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Dycler.vhp
44b5a3af895f31e22f6bc4eb66bd3eb7

??
96b1221ba725f1aaeaaa63f63cf04092

 

References: