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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Malware

Hackers Now Hiding ObliqueRAT Payload in Images to Evade Detection

Hackers Now Hiding ObliqueRAT Payload in Images to Evade Detection

March 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybercriminals are now deploying remote access Trojans (RATs) under the guise of seemingly innocuous images hosted on infected websites, once again highlighting how threat actors quickly change tactics when their attack methods are discovered and exposed publicly. New research released by Cisco Talos reveals an active malware campaign targeting organizations in South Asia that utilize malicious Microsoft Office documents forged with macros to spread a RAT that goes by the name of  ObliqueRAT . First documented in  February 2020 , the malware has been linked to a threat actor tracked as  Transparent Tribe  (aka Operation C-Major, Mythic Leopard, or APT36), a highly prolific group allegedly of Pakistani origin known for its attacks against human rights activists in the country as well as military and government personnel in India. While the ObliqueRAT modus operandi previously overlapped with another Transparent Tribe campaign in December 2019 to disseminate CrimsonRAT, the new wave
Researchers Unearth Links Between SunCrypt and QNAPCrypt Ransomware

Researchers Unearth Links Between SunCrypt and QNAPCrypt Ransomware

March 02, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
SunCrypt, a ransomware strain that went on to infect several targets last year, may be an updated version of the QNAPCrypt ransomware, which targeted Linux-based file storage systems, according to new research. "While the two ransomware [families] are operated by distinct different threat actors on the dark web, there are strong technical connections in code reuse and techniques, linking the two ransomware to the same author,"  Intezer Lab  researcher Joakim Kennedy said in a malware analysis published today revealing the attackers' tactics on the dark web. First identified in July 2019,  QNAPCrypt  (or  eCh0raix ) is a ransomware family that was found to target Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices from Taiwanese companies QNAP Systems and Synology. The devices were compromised by brute-forcing weak credentials and exploiting known vulnerabilities with the goal of encrypting files found in the system. The ransomware has since been tracked to a Russian cybercrime
Gootkit RAT Using SEO to Distribute Malware Through Compromised Sites

Gootkit RAT Using SEO to Distribute Malware Through Compromised Sites

March 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A framework notorious for delivering a banking Trojan has received a facelift to deploy a wider range of malware, including ransomware payloads. "The  Gootkit  malware family has been around more than half a decade – a mature Trojan with functionality centered around banking credential theft," Sophos researchers Gabor Szappanos and Andrew Brandt  said  in a write-up published today. "In recent years, almost as much effort has gone into improvement of its delivery method as has gone into the NodeJS-based malware itself." Dubbed "Gootloader," the expanded malware delivery system comes amid a surge in the number of infections targeting users in France, Germany, South Korea, and the U.S. First documented in 2014, Gootkit is a Javascript-based malware platform capable of carrying out an array of covert activities, including web injection, capturing keystrokes, taking screenshots, recording videos, as well as email and password theft. Over the years, the
North Korean Hackers Targeting Defense Firms with ThreatNeedle Malware

North Korean Hackers Targeting Defense Firms with ThreatNeedle Malware

February 26, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A prolific North Korean state-sponsored hacking group has been tied to a new ongoing espionage campaign aimed at exfiltrating sensitive information from organizations in the defense industry. Attributing the attacks with high confidence to the  Lazarus Group , the new findings from Kaspersky signal an expansion of the APT actor's tactics by going beyond the usual gamut of financially-motivated crimes to fund the cash-strapped regime.  This broadening of its strategic interests happened in early 2020 by leveraging a tool called ThreatNeedle , researchers Vyacheslav Kopeytsev and Seongsu Park said in a Thursday write-up. At a high level, the campaign takes advantage of a multi-step approach that begins with a carefully crafted spear-phishing attack leading eventually to the attackers gaining remote control over the devices. ThreatNeedle is delivered to targets via COVID-themed emails with malicious Microsoft Word attachments as initial infection vectors that, when opened, run a
Chinese Hackers Using Firefox Extension to Spy On Tibetan Organizations

Chinese Hackers Using Firefox Extension to Spy On Tibetan Organizations

February 25, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers today unwrapped a new campaign aimed at spying on vulnerable Tibetan communities globally by deploying a malicious Firefox extension on target systems. "Threat actors aligned with the Chinese Communist Party's state interests delivered a customized malicious Mozilla Firefox browser extension that facilitated access and control of users' Gmail accounts," Proofpoint said in an analysis. The Sunnyvale-based enterprise security company pinned the phishing operation on a Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) it tracks as  TA413 , which has been previously attributed to attacks against the Tibetan diaspora by leveraging  COVID-themed lures  to deliver the Sepulcher malware with the strategic goal of espionage and civil dissident surveillance. The researchers said the attacks were detected in January and February 2021, a pattern that has continued since March 2020. The infection chain begins with a phishing email impersonating the "Tib
Everything You Need to Know About Evolving Threat of Ransomware

Everything You Need to Know About Evolving Threat of Ransomware

February 24, 2021The Hacker News
The cybersecurity world is constantly evolving to new forms of threats and vulnerabilities. But ransomware proves to be a different animal—most destructive, persistent, notoriously challenging to prevent, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Falling victim to a ransomware attack can cause significant data loss, data breach, operational downtime, costly recovery, legal consequences, and reputational damage. In this story, we have covered everything you need to know about ransomware and how it works. What is ransomware? Ransomware is a malicious program that gains control over the infected device, encrypts files, and blocks user access to the data or a system until a sum of money, or ransom, is paid. Crooks' scheme includes a ransom note—with amount and instructions on how to pay a ransom in return for the decryption key—or direct communication with the victim. While ransomware impacts businesses and institutions of every size and type, attackers often target healthcare, e
Critical RCE Flaws Affect VMware ESXi and vSphere Client — Patch Now

Critical RCE Flaws Affect VMware ESXi and vSphere Client — Patch Now

February 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
VMware has addressed multiple critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in VMware ESXi and vSphere Client virtual infrastructure management platform that may allow attackers to execute arbitrary commands and take control of affected systems. "A malicious actor with network access to port 443 may exploit this issue to execute commands with unrestricted privileges on the underlying operating system that hosts vCenter Server," the company  said  in its advisory. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2021-21972, has a CVSS score of 9.8 out of a maximum of 10, making it critical in severity. "In our opinion, the RCE vulnerability in the vCenter Server can pose no less a threat than the infamous vulnerability in Citrix (CVE-2019-19781)," said Positive Technologies' Mikhail Klyuchnikov, who discovered and reported the flaw to VMware. "The error allows an unauthorized user to send a specially crafted request, which will later give them the opportunity
Hackers Exploit Accellion Zero-Days in Recent Data Theft and Extortion Attacks

Hackers Exploit Accellion Zero-Days in Recent Data Theft and Extortion Attacks

February 22, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers on Monday tied a  string of attacks  targeting Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) servers over the past two months to data theft and extortion campaign orchestrated by a cybercrime group called UNC2546 . The attacks, which began in mid-December 2020, involved exploiting multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in the legacy FTA software to install a new web shell named DEWMODE on victim networks and exfiltrating sensitive data, which was then published on a data leak website operated by the CLOP ransomware gang. But in a twist, no ransomware was actually deployed in any of the recent incidents that hit organizations in the U.S., Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands, with the actors instead resorting to extortion emails to threaten victims into paying bitcoin ransoms. According to  Risky Business , some of the companies that have had their data listed on the site include Singapore's telecom provider  SingTel , the American Bureau of Shipping, law firm 
Masslogger Trojan Upgraded to Steal All Your Outlook, Chrome Credentials

Masslogger Trojan Upgraded to Steal All Your Outlook, Chrome Credentials

February 19, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A credential stealer infamous for targeting Windows systems has resurfaced in a new phishing campaign that aims to steal credentials from Microsoft Outlook, Google Chrome, and instant messenger apps. Primarily directed against users in Turkey, Latvia, and Italy starting mid-January, the attacks involve the use of  MassLogger  — a .NET-based malware with capabilities to hinder static analysis — building on similar campaigns undertaken by the same actor against users in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Hungary, Estonia, Romania, and Spain in September, October, and November 2020. MassLogger was first spotted in the wild last April, but the presence of a new variant implies malware authors are constantly retooling their arsenal to evade detection and monetize them. "Although operations of the Masslogger trojan have been previously documented, we found the new campaign notable for using the compiled HTML file format to start the infection chain," researchers with Cisco Talos  said  on W
First Malware Designed for Apple M1 Chip Discovered in the Wild

First Malware Designed for Apple M1 Chip Discovered in the Wild

February 18, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
One of the first malware samples tailored to run natively on Apple's M1 chips has been discovered, suggesting a new development that indicates that bad actors have begun adapting malicious software to target the company's latest generation of Macs powered by its own processors. While the transition to Apple silicon has necessitated developers to build new versions of their apps to ensure better performance and compatibility, malware authors are now undertaking similar steps to build malware that are capable of executing natively on Apple's new M1 systems, according to macOS Security researcher Patrick Wardle. Wardle detailed a Safari adware extension called GoSearch22 that was originally written to run on Intel x86 chips but has since been ported to run on ARM-based M1 chips. The rogue extension, which is a variant of the Pirrit advertising malware, was first seen in the wild on November 23, 2020, according to a sample  uploaded  to VirusTotal on December 27. "Tod
Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials

Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials

February 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Two new Android surveillanceware families have been found to target military, nuclear, and election entities in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of a pro-India, state-sponsored hacking campaign. Dubbed Hornbill and Sunbird, the malware impersonates legitimate or seemingly innocuous services to cover its tracks, only to stealthily collect SMS, encrypted messaging app content, and geolocation, among other types of sensitive information. The findings published by Lookout is the result of an analysis of 18GB of exfiltrated data that was publicly exposed from at least six insecurely configured command-and-control (C2) servers located in India. "Some notable targets included an individual who applied for a position at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, individuals with numerous contacts in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), as well as officers responsible for electoral rolls (Booth Level Officers) located in the Pulwama district of Kashmir," the researchers  said  in a Wednesday ana
LodaRAT Windows Malware Now Also Targets Android Devices

LodaRAT Windows Malware Now Also Targets Android Devices

February 10, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously known Windows remote access Trojan (RAT) with credential-stealing capabilities has now expanded its scope to set its sights on users of Android devices to further the attacker's espionage motives. "The developers of  LodaRAT  have added Android as a targeted platform," Cisco Talos researchers  said  in a Tuesday analysis. "A new iteration of LodaRAT for Windows has been identified with improved sound recording capabilities." Kasablanca, the group behind the malware, is said to have deployed the new RAT in an ongoing hybrid campaign targeting Bangladeshi users, the researchers noted. The reason why Bangladesh-based organizations have been specifically singled out for this campaign remains unclear, as is the identity of the threat actor. First documented in May 2017 by  Proofpoint , Loda is an AutoIt malware typically delivered via phishing lures that's equipped to run a wide range of commands designed to record audio, video, and capture oth
A New Linux Malware Targeting High-Performance Computing Clusters

A New Linux Malware Targeting High-Performance Computing Clusters

February 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
High-performance computing clusters belonging to university networks as well as servers associated with government agencies, endpoint security vendors, and internet service providers have been targeted by a newly discovered backdoor that gives attackers the ability to execute arbitrary commands on the systems remotely. Cybersecurity firm ESET named the malware " Kobalos " — a nod to a " mischievous creature " of the same name from Greek mythology — for its "tiny code size and many tricks." "Kobalos is a generic backdoor in the sense that it contains broad commands that don't reveal the intent of the attackers," researchers Marc-Etienne M. Léveillé and Ignacio Sanmillan  said  in a Tuesday analysis. "In short, Kobalos grants remote access to the file system, provides the ability to spawn terminal sessions, and allows proxying connections to other Kobalos-infected servers." Besides tracing the malware back to attacks against a nu
A New Software Supply‑Chain Attack Targeted Millions With Spyware

A New Software Supply‑Chain Attack Targeted Millions With Spyware

February 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers today disclosed a new supply chain attack targeting online gamers by compromising the update mechanism of NoxPlayer, a free Android emulator for PCs and Macs. Dubbed " Operation NightScout " by Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET, the highly-targeted surveillance campaign involved distributing three different malware families via tailored malicious updates to selected victims based in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka. NoxPlayer, developed by Hong Kong-based BigNox, is an Android emulator that allows users to play mobile games on PC, with support for keyboard, gamepad, script recording, and multiple instances. It is  estimated  to have over 150 million users in more than 150 countries. First signs of the ongoing attack are said to have originated around September 2020, from when the compromise continued until "explicitly malicious activity" was uncovered on January 25, prompting ESET to report the incident to BigNox. "Based on the comp
New Cryptojacking Malware Targeting Apache, Oracle, Redis Servers

New Cryptojacking Malware Targeting Apache, Oracle, Redis Servers

February 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A financially-motivated threat actor notorious for its cryptojacking attacks has leveraged a revised version of their malware to target cloud infrastructures using vulnerabilities in web server technologies, according to new research. Deployed by the China-based cybercrime group  Rocke , the Pro-Ocean cryptojacking malware now comes with improved rootkit and worm capabilities, as well as harbors new evasion tactics to sidestep cybersecurity companies' detection methods, Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 researchers  said  in a Thursday write-up. "Pro-Ocean uses known vulnerabilities to target cloud applications," the researchers detailed. "In our analysis, we found Pro-Ocean targeting Apache ActiveMQ ( CVE-2016-3088 ), Oracle WebLogic ( CVE-2017-10271 ) and Redis (unsecure instances)." "Once installed, the malware kills any process that uses the CPU heavily, so that it's able to use 100% of the CPU and mine Monero efficiently." First documented
Hezbollah Hacker Group Targeted Telecoms, Hosting, ISPs Worldwide

Hezbollah Hacker Group Targeted Telecoms, Hosting, ISPs Worldwide

January 29, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A "persistent attacker group" with alleged ties to Hezbollah has retooled its malware arsenal with a new version of a remote access Trojan (RAT) to break into companies worldwide and extract valuable information. In a  new report  published by the ClearSky research team on Thursday, the Israeli cybersecurity firm said it identified at least 250 public-facing web servers since early 2020 that have been hacked by the threat actor to gather intelligence and steal the company's databases. The orchestrated intrusions hit a slew of companies located in the U.S., the U.K., Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, with a majority of the victims representing telecom operators (Etisalat, Mobily, Vodafone Egypt), internet service providers (SaudiNet, TE Data), and hosting and infrastructure service providers (Secured Servers LLC, iomart). First documented in 2015,  Volatile Cedar  (or Lebanese Cedar) has been known to penetrate a large number
European Authorities Disrupt Emotet — World's Most Dangerous Malware

European Authorities Disrupt Emotet — World's Most Dangerous Malware

January 28, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Law enforcement agencies from as many as eight countries dismantled the infrastructure of Emotet , a notorious email-based Windows malware behind several botnet-driven spam campaigns and ransomware attacks over the past decade. The coordinated takedown of the botnet on Tuesday — dubbed " Operation Ladybird " — is the result of a joint effort between authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, the U.S., the U.K., France, Lithuania, Canada, and Ukraine to take control of servers used to run and maintain the malware network. "The Emotet infrastructure essentially acted as a primary door opener for computer systems on a global scale," Europol  said . "What made Emotet so dangerous is that the malware was offered for hire to other cybercriminals to install other types of malware, such as banking Trojans or ransomware, onto a victim's computer." More Than a Malware  Since its first identification in 2014,  Emotet  has evolved from its initial roots as a cr
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