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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.