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The notorious Emotet malware has turned to deploy a new module designed to siphon credit card information stored in the Chrome web browser.
The credit card stealer, which exclusively singles out Chrome, has the ability to exfiltrate the collected information to different remote command-and-control (C2) servers, according to enterprise security company Proofpoint, which observed the component on June 6.
The development comes amid a spike in Emotet activity since it was resurrected late last year following a 10-month-long hiatus in the wake of a law enforcement operation that took down its attack infrastructure in January 2021.
Emotet, attributed to a threat actor known as TA542 (aka Mummy Spider or Gold Crestwood), is an advanced, self-propagating and modular trojan that's delivered via email campaigns and is used as a distributor for other payloads such as ransomware.
As of April 2022, Emotet is still the most popular malware with a global impact of 6% of organizations worldwide, followed by Formbook and Agent Tesla, per Check Point, with the malware testing out new delivery methods using OneDrive URLs and PowerShell in .LNK attachments to get around Microsoft's macro restrictions.
The steady growth in Emotet-related threats is substantiated further by the fact that the number of phishing emails, often hijacking already existing correspondence, grew from 3,000 in February 2022 to approximately 30,000 in March to target organizations in various countries as part of a mass-scale spam campaign.
Stating that Emotet activity have "shifted to a higher gear" in March and April 2022, ESET said that detections jumped a 100-fold, registering a growth of over 11,000% during the first four months of the year when compared to the preceding four-month period from September to December 2021.
Some of the common targets since the botnet's resurrection have been Japan, Italy, and Mexico, the Slovak cybersecurity company noted, adding the biggest wave was recorded on March 16, 2022.
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"The size of Emotet's latest LNK and XLL campaigns was significantly smaller than those distributed via compromised DOC files seen in March," ESET researcher Dušan Lacika said. "This suggests that the operators are only using a fraction of the botnet's potential while testing new distribution vectors that could replace the now disabled-by-default VBA macros."
The findings also come as researchers from CyberArk demonstrated a new technique to extract plaintext credentials directly from memory in Chromium-based web browsers.
"Credential data is stored in Chrome's memory in cleartext format," CyberArk's Zeev Ben Porat said. "In addition to data that is dynamically entered when signing into specific web applications, an attacker can cause the browser to load into memory all the passwords that are stored in the password manager."
This also includes cookie-related information such as session cookies, potentially allowing an attacker to extract the information and use it to hijack users' accounts even when they are protected by multi-factor authentication.