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Reverse Engineering Tools: Evaluating the True Cost

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 18:00
Breaking down the true cost of software tools in the context of reverse engineering and debugging may not be as clear-cut as it appears.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Cyberattacks Target COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Cold-Chain’ Orgs

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 16:47
Cybercriminals try to steal the credentials of top companies associated with the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain in an espionage effort.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

As Modern Mobile Enables Remote Work, It Also Demands Security

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 16:18
Lookout's Hank Schless discusses accelerated threats to mobile endpoints in the age of COVID-19-sparked remote working.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Clop Gang Gallops Off with 2M Credit Cards from E-Land

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 15:27
The ransomware group pilfered payment-card data and credentials for over a year, before ending with an attack last month that shut down many of the South Korean retailer’s stores.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Code42 Incydr Series: Honing in on High-Risk Users with Code42 Incydr

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 15:00
Incydr lets you monitor your high-risk users without impeding their ongoing work.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

What is Microsoft doing with Linux? Everything you need to know about its plans for open source>

LinuxSecurity.com - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 14:09
With the growing popularity of Open Source, Microsoft is following the customers and the ecosystem - but pragmatic investment in Linux doesn't diminish the company's commitment to Windows.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

BlackArch Linux 2020.12.01 Released With 100+ New Hacking Tools>

LinuxSecurity.com - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 13:52
BlackArch Linux has released BlackArch 2020.12.01 with over 100 new hacking tools, bringing the total count of hacking tools offered by the distro to 2,608.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

TrickBot Malware Gets UEFI/BIOS Bootkit Feature to Remain Undetected

The Hacker News - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 13:13
TrickBot, one of the most notorious and adaptable malware botnets in the world, is expanding its toolset to set its sights on firmware vulnerabilities to potentially deploy bootkits and take complete control of an infected system. The new functionality, dubbed "TrickBoot" by Advanced Intelligence (AdvIntel) and Eclypsium, makes use of readily available tools to check devices for well-known
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

APT annual review: What the world’s threat actors got up to in 2020

Kaspersky Securelist - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 12:00

We track the ongoing activities of more than 900 advanced threat actors; you can find our quarterly overviews here, here and here. Here we try to focus on what we consider to be the most interesting trends and developments of the last 12 months. This is based on our visibility in the threat landscape; and it’s important to note that no single vendor has complete visibility into the activities of all threat actors.

Beyond Windows

While Windows continues to be the main focus for APT threat actors, we have observed a number of non-Windows developments this year. Last year we reported a malware framework called MATA that we attribute to Lazarus. This framework included several components such as a loader, orchestrator and plug-ins. In April, we learned that MATA extended beyond Windows and Linux to include macOS. The malware developers Trojanized an open-source two-factor authentication application and utilized another open-source application template. The MATA framework was not the only way that Lazarus targeted macOS. We found a cluster of activity linked to Operation AppleJeus. We also discovered malware similar to the macOS malware used in a campaign that we call TangDaiwbo – a multi-platform cryptocurrency exchange campaign. Lazarus utilizes macro-embedded Office documents and spreads PowerShell or macOS malware, depending on the victim’s system.

Kaspersky has publicly documented the Penquin family, tracing it back to its Unix ancestors in the Moonlight Maze operation of the 1990s. When researchers at Leonardo published a report in May about Penquin_x64, a previously undocumented variant of Turla’s Penquin GNU/Linux backdoor, we followed up on this latest research by generating network probes that detect Penquin_x64-infected hosts at scale, allowing us to discover that tens of internet hosting servers in Europe and the US are still compromised today. We think it’s possible that, following public disclosure of Turla’s GNU/Linux tools, the Turla threat actor may have been repurposing Penquin to conduct operations other than traditional intelligence.

In our 2020 Q3 APT trends report we described a campaign we dubbed TunnelSnake. By analyzing the activity in this campaign, we were able to uncover the network discovery and lateral movement toolset used by the threat actor after deploying the Moriya rootkit. We saw that the actor also made use of the open-source tools Earthworm and Termite, capable of spawning a remote shell and tunneling traffic between hosts. These tools are capable of operating on multiple architectures widely used by IoT devices, demonstrating a readiness to pivot to such devices.

Infecting UEFI firmware

During an investigation of a targeted campaign, we found a UEFI firmware image containing rogue components that drop previously unknown malware to disk. Our analysis showed that the revealed firmware modules were based on a known bootkit named Vector-EDK, and the dropped malware was a downloader for further components. By pivoting on unique traits of the malware, we uncovered a range of similar samples from our telemetry that have been used against diplomatic targets since 2017 and that have different infection vectors. While the business logic of most of them is identical, we saw that some had additional features or differed in their implementation. Because of this, we infer that the bulk of samples originate from a bigger framework, which we dubbed MosaicRegressor. The targets, diplomatic entities and NGOs in Asia, Europe and Africa, all appear to be connected in some way to North Korea.

Mobile implants

The use of mobile implants by APT threat actors is no longer a novelty: this year we have observed various groups targeting mobile platforms.

In January, we discovered a watering hole utilizing a full remote iOS exploit chain. The site appears to have been designed to target users in Hong Kong, based on the content of the landing page. While the exploits currently being used are known, the actor responsible is actively modifying the exploit kit to target more iOS versions and devices. We observed the latest modifications on February 7. The project is broader than we initially thought, supporting an Android implant, and probably implants for Windows, Linux and macOS. We have named this APT group TwoSail Junk. We believe this is a Chinese-speaking group; it maintains infrastructure mostly within Hong Kong, along with a couple of hosts located in Singapore and Shanghai. TwoSail Junk directs visitors to its exploit site by posting links within the threads of forum discussions, or creating new topic threads of their own. To date, dozens of visits were recorded from within Hong Kong, with a couple from Macau. The technical details around the functionality of the iOS implant, called LightSpy, and related infrastructure, reveal a low-to-mid capable actor. However, the iOS implant is a modular and exhaustively functional iOS surveillance framework.

In August, we published the second of our reports on the recent activities of the Transparent Tribe threat actor. This included an Android implant used by the group to spy on mobile devices. One of the methods used to distribute the app was by disguising it as the Aarogya Setu COVID-19 tracking app developed by the government of India. The fake app was used to target military personnel in India; and, based on public information, may have been distributed by sending a malicious link via WhatsApp, SMS, email or social media.

In June, we observed a new set of malicious Android downloaders which, according to our telemetry, have been actively used in the wild since at least December 2019, and have been used in a campaign targeting victims almost exclusively in Pakistan. The authors spread the malware by mimicking Chat Lite, Kashmir News Service and other legitimate regional Android applications. A report by the National Telecom & Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) from January describes malware sharing the same C2s and spoofing the same legitimate apps. According to the publication, the targets were Pakistani military bodies, and the attackers used WhatsApp messages, SMS, emails and social media as the initial infection vectors. Our own telemetry shows that this malware also spreads through Telegram messenger. The analysis of the initial set of downloaders allowed us to find an additional set of Trojans that we believe are strongly related, as they use the package name mentioned in the downloaders and focus on the same targets. These new samples have strong code similarity with artefacts previously attributed to Origami Elephant.

Big game hunting

In April, we released an early warning about the VHD ransomware, which was first spotted in late March. This ransomware stood out because of its self-replication method. The use of a spreading utility compiled with victim-specific credentials was reminiscent of APT campaigns, but at the time we were unable to link the attack to an existing group. However, we were able to identify an incident in which the VHD ransomware was deployed, in close conjunction with known Lazarus tools, against businesses in France and Asia. This indicates that Lazarus is behind the VHD ransomware campaigns that have been documented so far. As far as we know, this is the first time it has been established that the Lazarus group has resorted to targeted ransomware attacks (known as “big game hunting”) for financial gain.

Continued use of ‘naming and shaming’

Some years ago, we predicted that governments would resort to the “court of public opinion” as a strategy to draw attention to the activities of hostile APT groups; and this trend has developed further in the last year or so.

In February, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) charged four Chinese military officers with computer fraud, economic espionage and wire fraud for hacking into the credit reporting agency Equifax in 2017. The following month, the DoJ charged two Chinese nationals with laundering more than $100 million in cryptocurrency on behalf of North Korea. The indictment alleged that the two men laundered cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean hackers between December 2017 and April 2019, helping to hide the stolen currency from police.

In May, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a joint advisory warning that both countries are investigating a number of incidents in which other nation states are targeting pharmaceutical companies, medical research organizations and universities, looking for intelligence and sensitive data, including research on COVID-19. The FBI and CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) also issued a warning that threat actors related to the People’s Republic of China have been targeting US organizations engaged in COVID-19-related research.

On July 30, the European Council announced that it was imposing sanctions against six individuals and three entities that it believes are responsible for, or involved in, various cyberattacks, including the attempted attack on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the WannaCry, NotPetya and Operation Cloud Hopper attacks. The sanctions include a travel ban and asset freeze. In addition, EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

In September, the US DoJ released three indictments associated with hackers allegedly connected with APT41 and other intrusions tracked as Barium, Winnti, Wicked Panda and Wicked Spider. In addition, two Malaysian nationals were also arrested on September 14, in Sitiawan (Malaysia), for “conspiring to profit from computer intrusions targeting the video game industry”, following cooperation between the US DoJ and Government of Malaysia, including the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia and the Royal Malaysia Police. The indictments contain several indirect IoCs, which allowed us to connect these intrusions to Operation ShadowPad and Operation ShadowHammer, two massive supply-chain attacks that we discovered and investigated.

In October, the US DoJ indicted six Russian military intelligence officers for a number of cyberattacks, including NotPetya, the Olympic Destroyer attacks on the 2018 Winter Olympics and attacks affecting France, Georgia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and the investigation into the 2018 Novichok poisonings in the UK. The UK NCSC also accused Russia’s GRU military intelligence service of attacks on officials and organizations involved in the 2020 Tokyo games, prior to their postponement.

‘Good enough’ is enough

The malware developed by APT threat actors doesn’t always need to be technically sophisticated in order to be effective. The activities of DeathStalker illustrates this. This is a unique threat actor that seems to focus mainly on law firms and companies operating in the financial sector. The group’s interest in gathering sensitive business information leads us to believe that DeathStalker is a group of mercenaries offering hacking-for-hire services, or acting as an information broker in financial circles. The activities of this threat actor first came to our attention through a PowerShell-based implant called Powersing. This quarter, we unraveled the threads of DeathStalker’s LNK-based Powersing intrusion workflow. The group continues to develop and use this implant, employing tactics that have mostly been identical since 2018, while making greater efforts to evade detection. In August, our public report of DeathStalker’s activities summarized the three scripting language-based toolchains used by the group – Powersing, Janicab and Evilnum.

Following our initial private report on Evilnum, we detected a new batch of implants in late June 2020, showing interesting changes in the (so far) quite static modus operandi of DeathStalker. For instance, the malware directly connects to a C2 server using an embedded IP address or domain name, as opposed to previous variants where it made use of at least two dead drop resolvers (DDRs) or web services, such as forums and code sharing platforms, to fetch the real C2 IP address or domain. Interestingly, for this campaign the attackers didn’t limit themselves merely to sending spear-phishing emails, but actively engaged victims through multiple emails, persuading them to open the decoy to increase the chances of compromise. Furthermore, aside from using Python-based implants throughout the intrusion cycle, in both new and old variants, this was the first time that we had seen the actor dropping PE binaries as intermediate stages to load Evilnum, while using advanced techniques to evade and bypass security products.

We also found another intricate, low-tech implant used since Q2 2020 that we attribute with high confidence to DeathStalker. The delivery workflow uses a Microsoft Word document and drops a previously unknown PowerShell implant that relies on DNS over HTTPS (DoH) as a C2 channel. We dubbed this implant PowerPepper. In October 2020, we identified new samples of DeathStalker’s PowerPepper toolset, containing improvements that included improved sandbox detection techniques. The group also leveraged a new infection chain to deliver PowerPepper.

DeathStalker offers a good example of what small groups or even skilled individuals can achieve, without the need for innovative tricks or sophisticated methods. DeathStalker should serve as a baseline of what organizations in the private sector should be able to defend against, since groups of this sort represent the type of cyberthreat that companies today are most likely to face. We advise defenders to pay close attention to any process creation related to native Windows interpreters for scripting languages, such as powershell.exe and cscript.exe: wherever possible, these utilities should be made unavailable. Security awareness training and security product assessments should also include infection chains based on LNK files.

Exploiting COVID-19

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lockdowns imposed by many countries in response, attackers of all kinds sought to capitalize on people’s fears about the disease. Most of the phishing scams related to COVID-19 have been launched by cybercriminals using the disease as a springboard to make money. However, the list of attackers also includes APT threat actors such as Lazarus, Sidewinder, Transparent Tribe, GroupA21, which we observed using COVID-19-themed lures to target their victims, as well as Kimsuky, APT27, IronHusky and ViciousPanda who did the same, according to OSINT (open source intelligence). In March, we discovered a suspicious infrastructure that could have been used to target health and humanitarian organizations, including the WHO. We weren’t able to firmly attribute this to any specific actor, and it was registered before the COVID-19 crisis. Some private sources suggested it might be related to DarkHotel.

A few months later, there were a series of attacks on supercomputing centers around Europe, including the UK-based ARCHER, the German-based bwHPC and the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre. The EGI Computer Security and Incident Response Team (EGI-CSIRT) also published an alert in May covering two incidents that, according to its report, may or may not be related. Although we weren’t able to establish with a high degree of certainty that the ARCHER hack and the incidents described by EGI-CSIRT are related, we suspect they might be. Some media speculated that all these attacks might be related to COVID-19 research being carried out at the supercomputing centers.

Following publication of our initial report on WellMess (see our APT trends report Q2 2020), the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released a joint advisory, along with the Canadian and US governments, on the most recent activity involving WellMess. Specifically, all three governments attribute the use of this malware targeting COVID-19 vaccine research to The Dukes (aka APT29 and Cozy Bear). While the publication of the NCSC advisory increased general public awareness on the malware used in these recent attacks, the attribution statements made by all three governments provided no clear evidence for other researchers to pivot on for confirmation. For this reason, we still assess that the WellMess activity has been conducted by a previously unknown threat actor.

We do not believe that the interest of APT threat actors in COVID-19 represents a meaningful change in terms of TTPs (Tactics Techniques and Procedures): they’re simply using it as a newsworthy topic to lure their victims.

Final thoughts

We will continue to track the activities of APT threat actors and will regularly highlight the most interesting findings. However, if you wish to learn more about what the world’s most sophisticated threat groups get up to, please reach out to us at intelreports@kaspersky.com.

Google Play Apps Remain Vulnerable to High-Severity Flaw

Threatpost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 12:00
Patches for a flaw (CVE-2020-8913) in the Google Play Core Library have not been implemented by several popular Google Play apps, including Edge.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

What did DeathStalker hide between two ferns?

Kaspersky Securelist - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 11:00

DeathStalker is a threat actor that’s been active since at least 2012, and we exposed most of their past activities in a previous article, as well as during a GREAT Ideas conference in August 2020. The actor drew our attention in 2018 because of distinctive attack characteristics that didn’t fit in with the usual cybercrime or state-sponsored activities, leading us to believe DeathStalker is a hack-for-hire group..

DeathStalker has leveraged several malware strains and delivery chains over the years, from the Python- and VisualBasic-based Janicab to the PowerShell-based Powersing and the JavaScript-based Evilnum. The actor consistently used what we call “dead-drop resolvers” (DDRs), which is obfuscated content hosted on major public web services like YouTube, Twitter or Reddit; once decoded by malware this content reveals a command-and-control (C2) server address. DeathStalker also consistently leveraged anti-detection and antivirus evasion techniques, as well as intricate delivery chains that drop lots of files to the target’s filesystems. To kick-start an infection, DeathStalker usually relies on spear-phishing emails with attachments, or links to public file sharing services, as well as script execution based on Windows shortcuts. We have identified how DeathStalker’s malware compromises in clusters or targets various types of entities in all parts of the world, with a possible focus on law and consultancy offices, as well as FINTECH companies, but without a clearly identifiable or consistent interest. The targeting does not seem to be politically or strategically defined and doesn’t appear to be the usual financially motived crime. Because of this, we conclude that DeathStalker is a cyber-mercenary organization.

While tracking DeathStalker’s Powersing-based activities in May 2020, we detected a previously unknown implant that leveraged DNS over HTTPS as a C2 channel, as well as parts of its delivery chain. We named this new malware PowerPepper. We first spotted a variant of PowerPepper in the wild in mid-July 2020, dropped from a Word document that had been submitted on a public multiscanner service. Since then, the PowerPepper implant and the associated delivery chain has been continuously operating and developing.

Meet PowerPepper: the spicy implant that your bland scripts setup needed PowerPepper implant

PowerPepper is a Windows in-memory PowerShell backdoor that can execute remotely sent shell commands. In strict accordance with DeathStalker’s traditions, the implant will try to evade detection or sandboxes execution with various tricks such as detecting mouse movements, filtering the client’s MAC addresses, and adapting its execution flow depending on detected antivirus products.

The implant’s C2 logic stands out, as it is based on communications via DNS over HTTPS (DoH), using CloudFlare responders. PowerPepper first tries to leverage Microsoft’s Excel as a Web client to send DoH requests to a C2 server, but will fall back to PowerShell’s standard web client, and ultimately to regular DNS communications, if messages cannot get through.

C2 communications content between the implant and servers is encrypted. We noticed that PowerPepper and the previously described Powersing use an almost identical PowerShell implementation of AES encryption, with only the AES padding mode and a function input format being changed.

PowerPepper DNS command and control

PowerPepper regularly polls a C2 server for commands to execute. In order to do so, the implant sends TXT-type DNS requests (with DoH or plain DNS requests if the former fails) to the name servers (NS) that are associated with a malicious C2 domain name. If the target which runs the implant is validated (we cover that later), the server replies with a DNS response, embedding an encrypted command. Both requests and responses contain patterns that can be easily detected with network intrusion detection systems, but the patterns have been changed across implant variants.

The command execution results are sent back to the server through a batch of variable-length A-type DNS requests, where queried hostnames contain an identifier, data length, and encrypted data.

# Command result feedback initialization DNS request hostname: <identifier>.be.0.0.1.0.0.0.0.<domain> # Command result feedback data slices DNS requests hostnames: <identifier>.ef.1.0.1.3.BDA2ADBE3C79C9EF6630.DDD4B8D4504FEC348C9C.2F53BFB60C1890585CF7.<domain> <identifier>.ef.2.0.1.3.72DE8DDB802C4829B2DE.40CB7163E83DE0B4A002.6B6C2E555A931721A525.<domain> <identifier>.ef.3.0.1.2.1699380DBABAB113D32B.7869501E5FEDD524304B.0.<domain> # Command result feedback termination DNS request hostname: <identifier>.ca.4.0.1.00.0.0.0.<domain>

During the course of our investigations, we noticed that the PowerPepper C2 name servers were actually open DNS resolvers that always resolved arbitrary hostnames with the same IP addresses: 128.49.4.4 (a US Navy-owned server), 91.214.6.100 and 91.214.6.101 (HSBC UK-owned servers). Using this fact and historical reverse DNS resolutions data, we have been able to preemptively identify the PowerPepper C2 domains.

PowerPepper signaling and target validation

On top of the DNS C2 communication logic, PowerPepper also signals successful implant startup and execution flow errors to a Python backend, through HTTPS. Such signaling enables target validation and implant execution logging, while preventing researchers from interacting further with the PowerPepper malicious C2 name servers. It has also been used directly from some of the malicious documents that were involved in PowerPepper delivery, through the “Links to Files” feature in Office documents.

The signaling Python backends were hosted on a public and legitimate content hosting web service named PythonAnywhere that allows users to build websites. The discovered Python backend endpoints were shut down by PythonAnywhere in coordination with us. As a result, DeathStalker tried to adapt the signaling feature by removing it from most PowerPepper delivery documents (but keeping it in the implant itself), and by adding a legitimate but compromised WordPress website as a reverse-proxy between implants and backends.

PowerPepper delivery chains: a surprising journey into mercenary tricks, from Russian dolls to plant-covered steganography The macro-based delivery chain: when you are way too much into this whole Russian dolls idea

The first type of PowerPepper delivery (or infection) chain we encountered, back in July 2020, is based on a malicious Word document. Although we couldn’t confirm how this document had been distributed to targets, the infection trails and documents we analyzed showed that the item is either embedded as a spear-phishing email body, or downloaded from a malicious link in a spear-phishing email. This infection chain varied slightly between July and November 2020: some dropped file names, integrated code or remote links changed, but the logic stayed the same.

We won’t dive deep into the details of the delivery workflow, as the main tricks are addressed later. It should, however, be noted that the delivery chain is based on a monolithic document that embeds all required malicious items. Notably, this document contains decoy content, and the malicious logic is handled by Visual Basic for Application (VBA) macros, which ultimately run PowerPepper and set up its persistence.

The LNK-based delivery chain: your direct shortcut to spiciness

This infection chain is based on a Windows shortcut file, with a misleading .docx.lnk double extension, and constitutes a more modular approach to PowerPepper delivery.

The delivery chain is very similar to the macro-based one, but implements two major changes:

  • the malicious macros logic is moved to malicious PowerShell scripts, and the first one is directly embedded in the shortcut file, so there are no more VBA macros;
  • the Word document from this chain is just a decoy and malicious files storage pack, and is downloaded from a remote location (a public file sharing service) instead of directly embedded somewhere.

The malicious LNK files were most likely distributed as ZIP attachments within spear-phishing emails and, of course, the files dropped from this delivery chain differ across variants as well.

A quick look at the decoy contents

Some malicious documents that we managed to retrieve contained a social engineering banner asking users to enable macros execution. This explains how the malicious logic from the macro-based delivery chain could actually be triggered when macros are disabled by default on most modern Office settings.

The decoy contents we retrieved varied: the first we found in the wild were about carbon emissions regulations, but we also identified a fake travel booking form for a very specific event that’s planned next year in Turkey, and of course some are about the coronavirus.

We were able to link most of the decoy contents back to the original contents published on the internet by their initial authors, meaning DeathStalker did not craft them, but instead picked out appropriate ready-made material that was available on the internet. One of the decoy components impersonated a legitimate travel agent but included altered contact details.

A compilation of PowerPepper tricks

PowerPepper delivery chains leverage a lot of obfuscation, execution and masquerading tricks to hinder detection, or deceive targets that are curious about what is happening on their computers. So, we thought we should describe some.

Trick #1: hide things in Word embedded shape properties (and make macro comments fun again)

DeathStalker hides strings in Word embedded shape and object (OLE packages) properties, like the “hyperlink” property, to obfuscate the malicious execution workflow, as well as reconstruct and execute commands or scripts.

bell = "JohnSnow123" … Documents.Open FileName:=best & FName, PasswordDocument:=CStr(bell), Visible:=False Documents.Item(FName).Activate With Application: .Run "boat", belt … ' this function is totally legit and if you are an av you should totally let us pass Function boat(both) … ' checks if the type is 7 If .Type = 7 Then … If .OLEFormat.Application = "Microsoft Word" And .OLEFormat.ClassType = "Package" Then band = Split(.Hyperlink.Address, "ps://") … ball = ball & band(1)

Notably, these properties are leveraged as a second stage PowerShell script in the LNK-based delivery chain: the first stage PowerShell script, which is embedded in a malicious LNK file, will parse downloaded Word document contents to extract and run a second PowerShell script. These property artifacts can also contain parts of URLs, dropped files paths, or commands that are directly leveraged by macros in the macro-based delivery chain.

We can also see from the code extract above that DeathStalker uses macros to open another subdocument that is embedded in the first malicious document from the macro-based delivery chain. Last but not least, the comments are very helpful.

Trick #2: use Windows Compiled HTML Help (CHM) files as archives for malicious files

In the course of their PowerPepper delivery workflows, DeathStalker leverages CHM files as containers to better evade detection, and uses a Windows built-in tool called “hh” to unpack content, from VBA macros or an LNK-embedded PowerShell script.

All the files that are dropped on targeted computers from delivery chains and that are necessary to run PowerPepper are contained in these archives. The CHM files are embedded in the malicious Word (sub)document of the delivery chains.

Trick #3: masquerade and obfuscate persistent files

DeathStalker uses a Visual Basic Script (VBS) loader to start PowerPepper execution. The loader is launched immediately after delivery, and then at each computer startup, thanks to a companion launcher shortcut which is placed in a Windows startup folder.

' Copyright (c) GlobalSign Corporation. All rights reserved. ' ' Abstract: ' licenseverification.vbs - Verify the GlobalSign software ' ' Usage: ' licenseverify [-software] … const L_Help_Help_General05_Text = "-a - add a port" const L_Help_Help_General06_Text = "-d - delete the specified port" … const L_Help_Help_General34_Text = "417079070765161B1C0eeeeeef610520C0F69331… … CreateObject(DelPort(L_Text_Msg_Port01_Text)).Run …+DelPort(L_Help_Help_General34_Text & "7260D3…

This VBS loader masquerades as a GlobalSign verification tool with comments as well as deceptive variables or help strings. Furthermore, the script’s malicious content is obfuscated by a custom encryption function.

Trick #4: hide your implant between two ferns…

And here come our plants…. The previously described VBS loader will basically do one thing: deobfuscate and run a PowerShell script against a picture file that was dropped earlier from the delivery chain.

But the picture is actually a steganography image (of ferns…) that will be decoded by the VBS loader-embedded script, and contains the PowerPepper implant. In the first delivery chains that were discovered, the steganography image actually displayed peppers, hence the “PowerPepper” name.

Trick #5: get lost in Windows shell command translation

The Windows shortcut (LNK) file from the LNK-based delivery chain actually starts a Windows shell with an obfuscated command argument. The command is a specific form of a “FOR” Windows shell loop that generates the “PowerShell” string from an “assoc” shell built-in result.

The malicious LNK file will fire a PowerShell script as a result, which in turn will recompose a second stage script from a downloaded Word document, as seen in Trick #1.

Trick #6: kick start it all with a signed binary proxy execution

Whether it’s at the end of macros execution (for the macro-based delivery chain) or as a last step of the shortcut-embedded scripts (for the LNK-based delivery chain), DeathStalker leveraged a signed binary proxy execution to start up PowerPepper for the first time.

$ttss=Join-Path -path $src -ChildPath ('Startup'+[char]92+'StartPrinter.url'); start-process -filepath 'rundll32.exe' -argumentlist ('ieframe.dll,openurl '.replace('openurl',('o').toupper()+'pen'+('url').toupper())+$ttss) While the first (macro-based) delivery chain we retrieved fired the malicious VBS loader with “rundll32.exe ieadvpack.dll, RegisterOCX wscript.exe <script file> <script argument> pexe”, more recent ones use a “rundll32.exe ieframe.dll, OpenURL <Internet shortcut>” alternative combo. The very latest rely on a dropped internet shortcut file (.url), which simply opens an LNK launcher with a “file://” URL. The LNK launcher in turn runs the VBS loader (see Trick #3).

Geography of PowerPepper’s targets

We of course cannot get a comprehensive view of all PowerPepper’s targets, but having tracked this implant since May 2020, we managed to get a partial view of targeted countries before August 2020, as well as in November 2020.

Due to the very partial information we sometimes get for such research, and despite our efforts to filter as much as we can, we cannot rule out that some identified targets could actually be fellow researchers investigating the threat, or DeathStalker’s own testing infrastructure.

We could not precisely identify PowerPepper targets, but law and consultancy firms have been frequent targets of the actor.

Prevention and protection leads

In order to prevent successful PowerPepper execution or delivery, or to protect against related infection chains, we could not but underline these standard defense measures:

  • Content hosts can regularly scan hosted files for malicious content, where regulations allow. They can protect their hosting infrastructure with endpoint protection software and traffic monitoring. They can also stack protection on privileged and remote access, with client network address filtering, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and auditing of authentication logs.
  • Website owners and editors need to frequently and responsively update their CMS backends as well as associated plugins. They can also stack protection on privileged and remote access, with client network address filtering, MFA and access logging on all backend endpoints.
  • Enterprise IT services need to restrict script engine (i.e., PowerShell) use on end-user computers with enforced execution policies. They need to set up endpoint protection software on end-user computers and content servers. They should allow DNS requests to corporate-managed resolvers and relays only, while filtering HTTP and DNS traffic at the perimeter. Last but not least, they need to train employees not to open attachments and links in emails from unknown senders.
  • Individuals should never open Windows shortcuts that were downloaded from a remote location or attached to an email, open attachments or click links in emails from unknown senders, or enable macros in documents from unverified sources.
Conclusion

It only seems fair to write that DeathStalker tried hard to develop evasive, creative and intricate tools with this PowerPepper implant and associated delivery chains. There is nothing particularly sophisticated about the techniques and tricks that are leveraged, yet the whole toolset has proved to be effective, is pretty well put together, and shows determined efforts to compromise various targets around the world.

This is consistent with previous knowledge of the DeathStalker actor, which has demonstrated continuous capabilities to compromise targets since 2012, and has been fast to develop new implants and toolchains. We discovered the PowerPepper implant in May 2020, and it has been improved or adapted regularly since then. At the same time, we also uncovered another previously unknown malware strain that we strongly believe is from the same actor, though we haven’t identified any Powersing-related activity since our previous article on DeathStalker in August 2020.

The DeathStalker threat is definitely a cause for concern, with the victimology for its various malware strains showing that any corporation or individual in the world can be targeted by their malicious activities, provided someone has decided they are of interest and passed on the word to the threat actor. Luckily for defenders, DeathStalker has, until now, relied on a rather limited set of techniques to design its delivery chains, and implementing counter-measures is an attainable goal for most organizations.

Indicators of compromise File hashes IOC Description A4DD981606EA0497BF9995F3BC672951 Malicious Word document (macro-based delivery chain) 871D64D8330D956593545DFFF069194E Malicious Word document (macro-based delivery chain) 81147EDFFAF63AE4068008C8235B34AF Malicious Windows shortcut (LNK-based delivery chain) DFC2486DE9E0339A1B38BB4B9144EA83 Malicious Word document (downloaded by LNK-based delivery chain) 74D7DF2505471EADEB1CCFC48A238AEC Malicious CHM container 5019E29619469C74F2B826535C5A8BD8 Malicious CHM container B4790E70B1297215E0875CFC2A56648E Malicious CHM container 3A6099214F474C1501C110CE66033F3C Malicious VBS Loader 07308FBC3D10FD476F1898ECF6762437 Malicious VBS Loader 1F77FBE4702F787A713D394B62D27B42 Malicious VBS Loader 6E99F6DA77B0620E89F6E88D91198C32 Malicious VBS Loader 5D04D246F3E5DA6A9347EC72494D5610 Malicious startup launcher LNK BA7AE1C73A78D8DC4B3779BD6A151791 Malicious startup launcher LNK 1DC2B849A858BC479B1EF428491E0353 Malicious startup launcher LNK 9D4066C57C6E1602CE33F15DC7F3841B PowerPepper steganography image (peppers) 6FF8A3D18A6EA930E87AC364379ECEC2 PowerPepper steganography image (peppers) 871D64D8330D956593545DFFF069194E PowerPepper steganography image (peppers) 9CE299BBDD7FDBF9F30F8935C89D2877 PowerPepper steganography image (ferns) 34F086AE78C5319FB64BF1CAE8204D1B PowerPepper steganography image (ferns) File paths IOC Description %PROGRAMDATA%\Support\licenseverification.vbs Malicious VBS Loader %PROGRAMDATA%\Support\licenseverify.vbs Malicious VBS Loader %PROGRAMDATA%\MyPrinter\NewFile.vbs Malicious VBS Loader %PROGRAMDATA%\Printers\NewFile.vbs Malicious VBS Loader %APPDATA %\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\System.lnk Malicious startup launcher LNK %PROGRAMDATA%\MyPrinter\Web.lnk Malicious startup launcher LNK %PROGRAMDATA%\Printers\Web.lnk Malicious startup launcher LNK %APPDATA%\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp\StartPrinter.url Malicious startup launcher URL Domain and IPs IOC Description allmedicalpro[.]com PowerPepper C2 domain name mediqhealthcare[.]com PowerPepper C2 domain name gofinancesolutions[.]com PowerPepper C2 domain name mailsigning.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) mailsignature.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) mailservice.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) mailservices.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) footersig.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) globalsignature.pythonanywhere[.]com PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate host and root domain) URLs IOC Description hxxps://www.gsn-nettoyage[.]com/wp-snapshots/btoken.php

  PowerPepper Signaling hostname (legitimate but compromised website) hxxps://www.gsn-nettoyage[.]com/wp-snapshots/etoken.php

hxxps://www.gsn-nettoyage[.]com/wp-snapshots/1.docx

hxxps://www.gsn-nettoyage[.]com/wp-snapshots/Quote 16 db room.docx Malicious documents download location (legitimate but compromised website) hxxps://outlookusers.page[.]link/ Malicious documents download location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYdifkocKujNavvjY?e=hhuBV8 Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYdcbz1YwTJRkOxP4?e=u5wtbX Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYd1921tVEMKWaCUs?e=MyoVNF Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws /w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYeFdjVtZN0Quljs4?e=dnA6GG Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYeePNerfsAWK0qVY?e=e4SsYM Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYejBpdekg1WUCM9M?e=UkhU10 Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) hxxps://1drv[.]ws/w/s!AvXRHBXCKmvYe1ulhtazjNVvCqY?e=WptVTC Malicious document remote location (legitimate host and root domain) Mail addresses IOC Description a.christy_inbox@outlook[.]com Suspected malicious spear-phishing email sender (legitimate root domain)

 

 

Bezpečnostní software je miliardový byznys. A stále roste

Novinky.cz - bezpečnost - 3 Prosinec, 2020 - 09:52
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Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Spotify Wrapped 2020 Rollout Marred by Pop Star Hacks

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 22:38
Spotify pages for Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey, Future and others were defaced by an attacker pledging his love for Taylor Swift and Trump.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Think-Tanks Under Attack by Foreign APTs, CISA Warns

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 22:21
The feds have seen ongoing cyberattacks on think-tanks (bent on espionage, malware delivery and more), using phishing and VPN exploits as primary attack vectors.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Xerox DocuShare Bugs Allow Data Leaks

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 21:17
CISA warns the leading enterprise document management platform is open to attack and urges companies to apply fixes.
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Turla’s ‘Crutch’ Backdoor Leverages Dropbox in Espionage Attacks

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 19:06
In a recent cyberattack against an E.U. country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Crutch backdoor leveraged Dropbox to exfiltrate sensitive documents.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

Healthcare 2021: Cyberattacks to Center on COVID-19 Spying, Patient Data

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 18:09
The post-COVID-19 surge in the criticality level of medical infrastructure, coupled with across-the-board digitalization, will be big drivers for medical-sector cyberattacks next year.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security

How to steal photos off someone’s iPhone from across the street

Sophos Naked Security - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 18:07
The bug at the heart of this is already patched - but there's a lot to learn from this story anyway.

Microsoft Revamps ‘Invasive’ M365 Feature After Privacy Backlash

Threatpost - 2 Prosinec, 2020 - 16:44
The Microsoft 365 tool that tracked employee usage of applications like Outlook, Skype and Teams was widely condemned by privacy experts.
Kategorie: Hacking & Security
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