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Myanmar President’s Office Hacked for the Second Time

 

A cyber-espionage hacking gang is suspected of breaking into the Myanmar president's office website and injecting a backdoor trojan into a customized Myanmar font package accessible for download on the home page. ESET, a Slovak security firm, discovered the attack on Wednesday, June 02, 2021. 

The software employed in the attack resembles malware strains used in previous spear-phishing efforts intended at Myanmar targets by a Chinese state-sponsored hacker outfit known as Mustang Panda, RedEcho, or Bronze President, according to researchers. 

Mustang Panda is mostly focused on non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It employs Mongolian language decoys and themes, as well as shared malware such as Poison Ivy and PlugX, to attack its targets. Their attack chain looks something like this: 

• A malicious link is disguised using the goo.gl link shortening tool and sent to a Google Drive folder.

• When you click on the Google Drive link, you'll be taken to a zip file that contains a.Ink file disguised as a.pdf file. 

• The user is redirected to a Windows Scripting Component (.wsc) file when they open the file. This file can be found on a malicious microblogging website.
 
• A VBScript and a PowerShell script from the Twitter page are included in the.Ink file to get the fake PDF file. 
 
• A Cobalt Strike (https://know.netenrich.com/threatintel/malware/Cobalt % 20Strike) payload is created by the PowerShell script. 

• The threat actor can operate the system remotely using Cobalt Strike's connection to the command-and-control IP address. 

Mustang Panda has a history of carefully constructed email-based attacks; for this operation, the gang appears to have modified a Myanmar Unicode font package available for download on the Myanmar presidency's website. “In the archive, attackers added a Cobalt Strike loader [named] Acrobat.dll, that loads a Cobalt Strike shellcode,” the ESET team wrote in a Twitter thread. 

This loader, according to researchers, pings a command and control (C&C) server at 95.217.1[.]81. The loader resembled other malware copies that had previously been transmitted as file attachments in spear-phishing efforts directed at Myanmar targets.

The archives show signs of an advanced and stealthy cyber-espionage operation hidden in files named “NUG Meeting Report.zip,” “Proposed Talking Points for ASEAN-Japan Summit.rar,” “MMRS Geneva,” “2021-03-11.lnk,” and “MOHS-3-covid.rar,” even if ESET said it has yet to officially confirm Mustang Panda's involvement beyond a doubt.

This is the second time the Myanmar president's office has been hacked in order to launch a watering hole attack. The first incident occurred between November 2014 and May 2015, when the site was used to disseminate a version of the EvilGrab malware by another alleged Chinese cyber-espionage group.

FIN7 is Spreading a Backdoor Called Lizar

 

Under the pretext of being a Windows pen-testing platform for ethical hackers, the infamous FIN7 cybercrime gang, a financially motivated organization, is spreading a backdoor called Lizar. 

Since mid-2015, the Russian criminal advanced persistent threat group FIN7 has targeted the retail, restaurant, and hospitality sectors in the United States. Combi Security, the front company for FIN7, manages a portion of the operation. It has been dubbed one of the world's most prolific criminal hacking organizations. FIN7 is also known as the Carbanak Group, but these two groups appear to be using the same Carbanak malware and are therefore monitored separately. 

FIN7 is posing as a legitimate company selling a security-analysis platform, according to the BI.ZONE Cyber Threats Research Team. According to the researchers, they go to great lengths to ensure authenticity: “These groups recruit workers who are unaware that they are dealing with actual malware or that their employer is a real criminal group.” 

The group usually targets victims with malware-laced phishing attacks in the hopes of infiltrating networks and selling bank-card data. It has also introduced ransomware/data exfiltration attacks to its arsenal since 2020, carefully choosing targets based on revenue using the ZoomInfo service, according to researchers. 

Its malware selection is often changing, with researchers sometimes being surprised by never-before-seen samples. However, the Carbanak remote-access trojan (RAT), which is highly complex and sophisticated in comparison to its peers, has been its go-to toolkit. Carbanak is commonly used for network reconnaissance and gaining a foothold. 

However, BI.ZONE researchers have recently discovered that the community is employing a new form of backdoor known as Lizar. According to an article published on Thursday, the new edition has been in use since February and provides a strong range of data extraction and lateral movement capabilities. 

 “Lizar is a diverse and complex toolkit,” according to the firm. “It is currently still under active development and testing, yet it is already being widely used to control infected computers, mostly throughout the United States.” 

Attacks on a gambling establishment, several educational institutions, and pharmaceutical firms in the United States, as well as an IT corporation headquartered in Germany and a financial institution in Panama, have been recorded so far.

Backdoor Affects 20,000 U.S Agencies Via Microsoft Vulnerability

A backdoor breached more than 20,000 US enterprises, it was installed through Microsoft Corp's recently patched flaws in the email software, said an individual aware of the U.S government's response. The hacks have already reached beyond areas than the malicious downloaded codes of Solarwinds Corp, an organization that suffered the most from the recent cyberattack in December. The recent cyberattack has left channels open that can be remotely accessed. These are spread across small businesses, city governments, and credit unions say reports from U.S investigations. 

Besides this, the records also reveal that tens of thousands of enterprises in Europe and Asia were also affected by the hack. The hacks are still present even though Microsoft issued security patches earlier this week. Earlier, Microsoft said that the hacks had "limited and targeted attacks," but now denies to comment on the current state of the problems. However, it said the company is currently working with the government authorities and security firms to deal with the issue. Reuters says, "more attacks are expected from other hackers as the code used to take control of the mail servers spreads." 

A scan revealed that, out of the connected vulnerable devices, a mere 10% of users have installed the security patches, but the numbers are going up. As the patch is not helpful to fix the backdoors, the US government is currently trying to figure out how to assist the victims and help them with the issue. The devices compromised seem to run the web version of the email client Outlook, hosting them on their devices, not using cloud providers. Experts say this might've saved many big agencies and government authorities from the attack.  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week informed media that the vulnerabilities revealed in Microsoft's popular exchange servers are big and can have a deep impact, there is a concern that the victims may be more. "Microsoft and the person working with the U.S. response blamed the initial wave of attacks on a Chinese government-backed actor. A Chinese government spokesman said the country was not behind the intrusions," reports Reuters. 

Updated Malware: Vietnamese Hacking Group Targeting MacOS Users

 

Researchers have discovered a new MacOS backdoor that steals credentials and confidential information. As cyber threats continue to rise, the newly discovered malware is believed to be operated by Vietnamese hacking group OceanLotus, colloquially known as APT 32. Other common names include APT-C-00, SeaLotus, and Cobalt Kitty. 
 
The nation-state backed hacking group has been operating across Asia and is known to target governments, media organizations, research institutes, human rights organizations, corporate sector, and political entities across the Philippines, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Other campaigns by the hacking group also focused on maritime construction companies. Notably, OceanLotus APT also made headlines for distributing malware through Apps on Google Play along with malicious websites. 
 
The attackers found the MacOS backdoor in a malicious Word document that supposedly came via an email. However, there is no information regarding the targets that the campaign is focusing on. In order to set the attack into motion, the victims are encouraged to run a Zip file appearing to be a Word document (disguised as a Word icon). Upon running the Zip file, the app bundled in it carrying the malware gets installed; there are two files in it, one is the shell script and another one is the Word file. The MacOS backdoor is designed by attackers to provide them with a window into the affected system, allowing them to steal sensitive data.

"Like older versions of the OceanLotus backdoor, the new version contains two main functions: one for collecting operating system information and submitting this to its malicious C&C servers and receiving additional C&C communication information, and another for the backdoor capabilities," TrendMicro explained in a blogpost. 

In an analysis, Researchers told, “When a user looks for the fake doc folder via the macOS Finder app or the terminal command line, the folder’s name shows ‘ALL tim nha Chi Ngoc Canada.doc’ (‘tìm nhà Chị Ngọc’ roughly translates to ‘find Mrs. Ngoc’s house’).”

“However, checking the original .zip file that contains the folder shows three unexpected bytes between ‘.’ and ‘doc’.”


Experts Discover New macOS Backdoor, Link Attack Campaign to Vietnamese Hackers

 

Cybersecurity experts at Trend Micro found a macOS backdoor, which the experts believe is used by Vietnamese criminal actors named "oceanlotus." Famous as APT32 or "APT-C-00," the backdoor is highly resourced and resolute. Experts say that Ocenlotus targets government agencies and corporate organizations located explicitly in Southeast Asia. At the beginning of 2020, the criminal group launched Covid-19 espionage attack campaigns targeting China. 

After analyzing different C&C domains used by the sample, Trend Micro suggests that organizations not download any suspicious link or open any unknown attachment, keep systems updated, and ensure employee cybersecurity to stay safe. Compared to Oceanlotus' earlier malware variants, the current sample presents correlations in coding and dynamic behavior. The similarity in behavior hints at the sample's link to the criminal group. A file incorporated in the attack campaign shows a Vietnamese name. According to this information, experts believe that the new malware targeted Vietnamese users. 

The new sample pretends to work as a word document, but it is an app packed into a Zip archive in reality. The app uses special characters to avoid detection. According to TrendMicro, the operating system views the app bundle as an unsupported directory. It means that it uses the "open" command is used to administer the file. The cybersecurity experts found two files in the app bundle. A word file that is shown during the execution process and shell script which does malicious tasks routinely. 

According to security week, "the shell script is responsible for deleting the file quarantine attribute for the files in the bundle and for removing the file quarantine attribute of files in the system, copying the Word document to a temp directory and opening it, extracting the second-stage binary and changing its access permissions, then deleting the malware app bundle and the Word document from the system. The second stage payload is responsible for dropping a third-stage payload, creating persistence, changing the timestamp of the sample using the touch command, and deleting itself. Featuring encrypted strings, the third-stage payload contains two main functions: collecting and sending operating system information to the command and control (C&C) servers, receiving additional communication information, and performing backdoor activities."

Jupyter Trojan Steals Chrome Firefox Data and Opens Backdoor

Researchers at Morphisec has recently discovered a trojan malware campaign targeted at stealing information from businesses and higher education. Reportedly, the malware named Jupyter has been used by Russian speaking hackers to gather data from various software. 

Primarily targeting Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Chromium code in itself, Jupyter's attack chain, delivery, and loader demonstrate additional capabilities such as a C2 client, execution of PowerShell scripts and commands, hollowing shellcode into legitimate windows configuration applications, for full backdoor functionality. 

The infostealer's attack begins with a zip file containing an installer which typically impersonates legitimate software like Docx2Rtf. When the installer is executed, a .NET C2 client is inserted into memory. Jupyter loader has a well-defined protocol, persistence modules, and versioning matrix, it furthers with downloading the next stage, a PowerShell command to execute the Jupyter injected in memory earlier. Now using the commonalities between both the .Net components an end-to-end framework is developed for the implementation of the Jupyter infostealer as both have similar code, obfuscation, and unique UID implementation. 
 
As per the analysis published by Morphisec, "Jupyter is an infostealer that primarily targets Chromium, Firefox, and Chrome browser data. However, its attack chain, delivery, and loader demonstrate additional capabilities for full backdoor functionality.” 
 
"Morphisec has monitored a steady stream of forensic data to trace multiple versions of Jupyter starting in May 2020. While many of the C2s are no longer active, they consistently mapped to Russia when we were able to identify them," read the report. 

Over the last 6 months, these installers have given exceptional results at bypassing security scanning controls, some among these installers even maintained 0 detections in VirusTotal.

Multiple versions of Jupyter were traced back to Russia and the planet name was noticeably misspelled from Russian to English, as per the Morphisec researchers who also found out the same image on Russian-language forums upon running a reverse Google Image search of the C2 admin panel image, concluding that the attack has Russian origins. 
 
"This is the first version seen in the wild of the infostealer stealing information (autocomplete, cookies, and passwords) only from Chrome browsers," said researchers. 

"This version added Firefox information stealing (cookies, logins, certificates, and form history). This version uses the same technique of copying the stolen information before accessing it to evade detection." The researchers further added.

Experts Discover Backdoor Malware in Chinese Tax Softwares named "GoldenHelper"


Trustwave has found a new malware (backdoor) named GoldenHelper. The malware is encoded in Golden Tax Invoice Software. It's under the Golden Tax Project of China's government, and its function is issue invoice and adds VAT (Value Added Tax). In June, experts had also discovered another malware named GoldenSpy. The backdoor malware was embedded within tax softwares that the Chinese companies had to install, to work in the financial sector. The backdoor malware GoldenHelper is entirely distinct from GoldenSpy.


However, both the malware function in a similar way. The backdoor malware gains entry into the international company's network operating in China to steal information. The GoldenHelper campaign distribution was active between January 2018 to July 2019 (the operations ceased to exist after January 2020). It should be noted that the GoldenSpy campaign also became active in April 2020.

The malware uses intelligent techniques to cover its usage activity when it's in function. Popular methods include using arbitrary files pattern, systems locations, and names while in transition. "The Golden Tax Project is a national program in China, impacting every business operating in China. We are currently aware of only two organizations authorized to produce Golden Tax software, Aisino, and Baiwang. This is now the second Golden Tax software package that Trustwave SpiderLabs has found to contain a hidden backdoor capable of remotely executing arbitrary code with SYSTEM level privileges," says Trustwave in its report. 

About GoldenHelper's Activity 

  • It doesn't ask user permission to gain access (UAC Bypass) 
  • Obfuscation- Randomization of file names 
  • Timestomping- Randomization while generating timestamps of "creation" and "last write." 
  • Arbitrarily downloads executable using fake file names. 

"During our investigation, we have been informed that the Golden Tax software may be deployed in your environment as a stand-alone system provided by the bank. Several individuals report receiving an actual Windows 7 computer (Home edition) with this Golden Tax software (and GoldenHelper) preinstalled and ready to use. This deployment mechanism is an interesting physical manifestation of a trojan horse," says Trustwave in a report published on its website.