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Alert: Water Curupira Hackers Actively Distributing PikaBot Loader Malware

Alert: Water Curupira Hackers Actively Distributing PikaBot Loader Malware

Jan 09, 2024 Malware / Cyber Threat
A threat actor called Water Curupira has been observed actively distributing the  PikaBot  loader malware as part of spam campaigns in 2023. "PikaBot's operators ran phishing campaigns, targeting victims via its two components — a loader and a core module — which enabled unauthorized remote access and allowed the execution of arbitrary commands through an established connection with their command-and-control (C&C) server," Trend Micro  said  in a report published today. The activity began in the first quarter of 2023 that lasted till the end of June, before ramping up again in September. It also overlaps with  prior campaigns  that have used similar tactics to deliver QakBot, specifically those  orchestrated  by  cybercrime groups  known as TA571 and TA577. It's believed that the increase in the number of phishing campaigns related to PikaBot is the result of QakBot's takedown in August, with DarkGate emerging as another replacement. PikaBot is primarily a loader, which means
QakBot Malware Resurfaces with New Tactics, Targeting the Hospitality Industry

QakBot Malware Resurfaces with New Tactics, Targeting the Hospitality Industry

Dec 18, 2023 Malware / Cybersecurity
A new wave of phishing messages distributing the  QakBot  malware has been observed, more than three months after a law enforcement effort saw its infrastructure dismantled by infiltrating its command-and-control (C2) network. Microsoft, which made the discovery, described it as a low-volume campaign that began on December 11, 2023, and targeted the hospitality industry. "Targets received a PDF from a user masquerading as an IRS employee," the tech giant  said  in a series of posts shared on X (formerly Twitter). "The PDF contained a URL that downloads a digitally signed Windows Installer (.msi). Executing the MSI led to Qakbot being invoked using export 'hvsi' execution of an embedded DLL." Microsoft said that the payload was generated the same day the campaign started and that it's configured with the previously unseen version 0x500. Zscaler ThreatLabz, in a post shared on X, described the resurfaced QakBot as a 64-bit binary that utilizes AES
Microsoft Warns of Malvertising Scheme Spreading CACTUS Ransomware

Microsoft Warns of Malvertising Scheme Spreading CACTUS Ransomware

Dec 04, 2023 Ransomware / Cyber Attack
Microsoft has warned of a new wave of CACTUS ransomware attacks that leverage malvertising lures to deploy DanaBot as an initial access vector. The DanaBot infections led to "hands-on-keyboard activity by ransomware operator Storm-0216 (Twisted Spider, UNC2198), culminating in the deployment of CACTUS ransomware," the Microsoft Threat Intelligence team  said  in a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter). DanaBot , tracked by the tech giant as Storm-1044, is a multi-functional tool along the lines of Emotet, TrickBot, QakBot, and IcedID that's capable of acting as a stealer and a point of entry for next-stage payloads. UNC2198, for its part, has been previously observed infecting endpoints with IcedID to deploy ransomware families such as Maze and Egregor, as  detailed  by Google-owned Mandiant in February 2021. Per Microsoft, the threat actor has also taken advantage of initial access provided by QakBot infections. The shift to DanaBot, therefore, is likely the resu
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Guide: Secure Your Privileged Access with Our Expert-Approved Template

websiteDelineaIT Security / Access Control Security
Transform your Privileged Access Management with our Policy Template—over 40 expertly crafted statements to elevate compliance and streamline your security.
New Guide: How to Scale Your vCISO Services Profitably

New Guide: How to Scale Your vCISO Services Profitably

May 09, 2024vCISO / Regulatory Compliance
Cybersecurity and compliance guidance are in high demand among SMEs. However, many of them cannot afford to hire a full-time CISO. A  v CISO can answer this need by offering on-demand access to top-tier cybersecurity expertise. This is also an opportunity for MSPs and MSSPs to grow their business and bottom line. MSPs and MSSPs that expand their offerings and provide vCISO services will cater to SME requirements and concerns. By answering this market gap, they can grow their customer base as well as upsell to existing clients. This will lead to recurring revenue and increased profitability. Developing and scaling vCISO services requires a well-thought-out plan. This will help guide you through the required processes, anticipate and overcome challenges and optimize resource use. To aid you, we introduce a comprehensive and actionable  guide: "How to Scale Your vCISO Services Profitably" . The guide was developed based on the experience of industry leader  Cynom i, who has helped hun
Qakbot Takedown Aftermath: Mitigations and Protecting Against Future Threats

Qakbot Takedown Aftermath: Mitigations and Protecting Against Future Threats

Dec 01, 2023 Malware / Cyber Threat
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI recently collaborated in a multinational operation to dismantle the notorious Qakbot malware and botnet. While the operation was successful in disrupting this long-running threat, concerns have arisen as it appears that Qakbot may still pose a danger in a reduced form. This article discusses the aftermath of the takedown, provides mitigation strategies, and offers guidance on determining past infections. The Takedown and Its Limitations During the takedown operation, law enforcement secured court orders to remove Qakbot malware from infected devices remotely. It was discovered that the malware had infected a substantial number of devices, with 700,000 machines globally, including 200,000 computers in the U.S., being compromised at the time of the takedown. However, recent reports suggest that Qakbot is still active but in a diminished state. The absence of arrests during the takedown operation indicates that only the command-and-cont
DarkGate and PikaBot Malware Resurrect QakBot's Tactics in New Phishing Attacks

DarkGate and PikaBot Malware Resurrect QakBot's Tactics in New Phishing Attacks

Nov 20, 2023 Threat Analysis / Malware
Phishing campaigns delivering malware families such as DarkGate and PikaBot are following the same tactics previously used in attacks leveraging the now-defunct QakBot trojan. "These include hijacked email threads as the initial infection, URLs with unique patterns that limit user access, and an infection chain nearly identical to what we have seen with QakBot delivery," Cofense  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "The malware families used also follow suit to what we would expect QakBot affiliates to use." QakBot, also called QBot and Pinkslipbot, was  shut down  as part of a coordinated law enforcement effort codenamed Operation Duck Hunt earlier this August. The use of DarkGate and PikaBot in these campaigns is not surprising as they can both act as conduits to deliver additional payloads to compromised hosts, making them both an attractive option for cybercriminals. PikaBot's parallels to QakBot were  previously highlighted  by Zscaler in its analysis of the malw
QakBot Threat Actors Still in Action, Using Ransom Knight and Remcos RAT in Latest Attacks

QakBot Threat Actors Still in Action, Using Ransom Knight and Remcos RAT in Latest Attacks

Oct 05, 2023 Ransomware / Malware
Despite the disruption to its infrastructure, the threat actors behind the QakBot malware have been linked to an ongoing phishing campaign since early August 2023 that led to the delivery of Ransom Knight (aka Cyclops) ransomware and Remcos RAT. This indicates that "the law enforcement operation may not have impacted Qakbot operators' spam delivery infrastructure but rather only their command-and-control (C2) servers," Cisco Talos researcher Guilherme Venere  said  in a new report published today. The activity has been attributed with moderate confidence by the cybersecurity firm to QakBot affiliates. There is no evidence to date that the threat actors have resumed distributing the malware loader itself post-infrastructure takedown. QakBot, also called QBot and Pinkslipbot, originated as a Windows-based banking trojan in 2007 and subsequently developed capabilities to deliver additional payloads, including ransomware. In late August 2023, the notorious malware operation was dealt
FBI Dismantles QakBot Malware, Frees 700,000 Computers, Seizes $8.6 Million

FBI Dismantles QakBot Malware, Frees 700,000 Computers, Seizes $8.6 Million

Aug 30, 2023 Malware / Cyber Crime
A coordinated law enforcement effort codenamed  Operation Duck Hunt  has felled  QakBot , a notorious Windows malware family that's estimated to have compromised over 700,000 computers globally and facilitated financial fraud as well as ransomware. To that end, the U.S. Justice Department (DoJ)  said  the malware is "being deleted from victim computers, preventing it from doing any more harm," adding it seized more than $8.6 million in cryptocurrency in illicit profits. The cross-border exercise involved the participation of France, Germany, Latvia, Romania, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S., alongside technical assistance from cybersecurity company Zscaler. The dismantling has been hailed as "the largest U.S.-led financial and technical disruption of a botnet infrastructure leveraged by cybercriminals." No arrests were announced. QakBot, also known as QBot and Pinkslipbot, started its life as a banking trojan in 2007 before morphing into a general-pu
QakBot Malware Operators Expand C2 Network with 15 New Servers

QakBot Malware Operators Expand C2 Network with 15 New Servers

Aug 08, 2023 Malware / Cyber Threat
The operators associated with the QakBot (aka QBot) malware have set up 15 new command-and-control (C2) servers as of late June 2023. The findings are a continuation of the malware's infrastructure analysis from Team Cymru, and arrive a little over two months after Lumen Black Lotus Labs  revealed  that 25% of its C2 servers are only active for a single day. "QakBot has a history of taking an extended break each summer before returning sometime in September, with this year's spamming activities ceasing around 22 June 2023," the cybersecurity firm  said . "But are the QakBot operators actually on vacation when they aren't spamming, or is this 'break' a time for them to refine and update their infrastructure and tools?" QakBot's C2 network, like in the case of Emotet and IcedID, is  characterized  by a tiered architecture in which C2 nodes communicate with upstream Tier 2 (T2) C2 nodes hosted on VPS providers geolocated in Russia. A majo
Evasive QBot Malware Leverages Short-lived Residential IPs for Dynamic Attacks

Evasive QBot Malware Leverages Short-lived Residential IPs for Dynamic Attacks

Jun 01, 2023 Cyber Threat / Network Security
An analysis of the "evasive and tenacious" malware known as QBot has revealed that 25% of its command-and-control (C2) servers are merely active for a single day. What's more, 50% of the servers don't remain active for more than a week, indicating the use of an adaptable and dynamic  C2 infrastructure , Lumen Black Lotus Labs said in a report shared with The Hacker News. "This botnet has adapted techniques to conceal its infrastructure in residential IP space and infected web servers, as opposed to hiding in a network of hosted virtual private servers (VPSs)," security researchers Chris Formosa and Steve Rudd said. QBot , also called QakBot and Pinkslipbot, is a persistent and potent threat that started off as a banking trojan before evolving into a downloader for other payloads, including ransomware. Its origins go back as far as 2007. The malware arrives on victims' devices via spear-phishing emails, which either directly incorporate lure files o
IcedID Malware Strikes Again: Active Directory Domain Compromised in Under 24 Hours

IcedID Malware Strikes Again: Active Directory Domain Compromised in Under 24 Hours

Jan 12, 2023 Active Directory / Malware
A recent IcedID malware attack enabled the threat actor to compromise the Active Directory domain of an unnamed target less than 24 hours after gaining initial access, while also borrowing techniques from other groups like Conti to meet its goals. "Throughout the attack, the attacker followed a routine of recon commands, credential theft, lateral movement by abusing Windows protocols, and executing Cobalt Strike on the newly compromised host," Cybereason researchers  said  in a report published this week. IcedID , also known by the name BokBot, started its life as a banking trojan in 2017 before evolving into a  dropper for other malware , joining the likes of  Emotet ,  TrickBot ,  Qakbot ,  Bumblebee , and  Raspberry Robin . Attacks involving the delivery of IcedID have  leveraged a variety of methods , especially in the wake of  Microsoft's decision to block macros  from Office files downloaded from the web. The intrusion detailed by Cybereason is no different in
Hackers Using SVG Files to Smuggle QBot Malware onto Windows Systems

Hackers Using SVG Files to Smuggle QBot Malware onto Windows Systems

Dec 15, 2022 Email Security / Endpoint Security
Phishing campaigns involving the  Qakbot malware  are using Scalable Vector Graphics ( SVG ) images embedded in HTML email attachments. The new distribution method was spotted by Cisco Talos, which  said  it identified fraudulent email messages featuring HTML attachments with encoded SVG images that incorporate  HTML script tags . HTML smuggling is a  technique  that relies on using legitimate features of HTML and JavaScript to run encoded malicious code contained within the lure attachment and assemble the payload on a victim's machine as opposed to making an HTTP request to fetch the malware from a remote server. In other words, the idea is to evade email gateways by storing a binary in the form of a JavaScript code that's decoded and downloaded when opened via a web browser. The attack chain spotted by the cybersecurity company concerns a JavaScript that's smuggled inside of the SVG image and executed when the unsuspecting email recipient launches the HTML attachme
Black Basta Ransomware Gang Actively Infiltrating U.S. Companies with Qakbot Malware

Black Basta Ransomware Gang Actively Infiltrating U.S. Companies with Qakbot Malware

Nov 24, 2022
Companies based in the U.S. have been at the receiving end of an "aggressive" Qakbot malware campaign that leads to Black Basta ransomware infections on compromised networks. "In this latest campaign, the Black Basta ransomware gang is using QakBot malware to create an initial point of entry and move laterally within an organization's network," Cybereason researchers Joakim Kandefelt and Danielle Frankel  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. Black Basta, which emerged in April 2022, follows the tried-and-tested approach of double extortion to steal sensitive data from targeted companies and use it as a leverage to extort cryptocurrency payments by threatening to release the stolen information. This is not the first time the ransomware crew has been observed using Qakbot (aka QBot, QuackBot, or Pinkslipbot). Last month, Trend Micro  disclosed  similar attacks that entailed the use of Qakbot to deliver the  Brute Ratel C4  framework, which, in turn,
New Ursnif Variant Likely Shifting Focus to Ransomware and Data Theft

New Ursnif Variant Likely Shifting Focus to Ransomware and Data Theft

Oct 20, 2022
The Ursnif malware has become the latest malware to shed its roots as a banking trojan to revamp itself into a generic backdoor capable of delivering next-stage payloads, joining the likes of Emotet, Qakbot, and TrickBot. "This is a significant shift from the malware's original purpose to enable banking fraud, but is consistent with the broader threat landscape," Mandiant researchers Sandor Nemes, Sulian Lebegue, and Jessa Valdez  disclosed  in a Wednesday analysis. The refreshed and refactored variant, first spotted by the Google-owned threat intelligence firm in the wild on June 23, 2022, has been codenamed LDR4, in what's being seen as an attempt to lay the groundwork for potential ransomware and data theft extortion operations. Ursnif, also called Gozi or ISFB, is one of the oldest banker malware families, with  the earliest documented attacks  going as far back as 2007. Check Point, in August 2020, mapped the " divergent evolution of Gozi " over th
Researchers Uncover New Attempts by Qakbot Malware to Evade Detection

Researchers Uncover New Attempts by Qakbot Malware to Evade Detection

Jul 13, 2022
The operators behind the Qakbot malware are transforming their delivery vectors in an attempt to sidestep detection. "Most recently, threat actors have transformed their techniques to evade detection by using ZIP file extensions, enticing file names with common formats, and Excel (XLM) 4.0 to trick victims into downloading malicious attachments that install Qakbot," Zscaler Threatlabz researchers Tarun Dewan and Aditya Sharma  said . Other methods adopted by the group include code obfuscation, introducing new layers in the attack chain from initial compromise to execution, and using multiple URLs as well as unknown file extensions (e.g., .OCX, .ooccxx, .dat, or .gyp) to deliver the payload. Also called QBot, QuackBot, or Pinkslipbot, Qakbot has been a  recurring threat  since late 2007, evolving from its initial days as a banking trojan to a modular information stealer capable of deploying next-stage payloads such as  ransomware . "Qakbot is a flexible post-exploi
Microsoft Details Building Blocks of Widely Active Qakbot Banking Trojan

Microsoft Details Building Blocks of Widely Active Qakbot Banking Trojan

Dec 13, 2021
Infection chains associated with the multi-purpose Qakbot malware have been broken down into "distinct building blocks," an effort that Microsoft said will help to proactively detect and block the threat in an effective manner. The Microsoft 365 Defender Threat Intelligence Team  dubbed   Qakbot a "customizable chameleon that adapts to suit the needs of the multiple threat actor groups that utilize it." Qakbot  is believed to be the creation of a financially motivated cybercriminal threat group known as  Gold Lagoon . It is a prevalent information-stealing malware that, in recent years, has become a precursor to many critical and widespread ransomware attacks, offering a malware installation-as-a-service that enables many campaigns. First discovered in 2007, the modular malware — like  TrickBot  — has  evolved  from its early roots as a banking trojan to become a Swiss Army knife capable of data exfiltration and acting as a delivery mechanism for the second st
Hackers Using Squirrelwaffle Loader to Deploy Qakbot and Cobalt Strike

Hackers Using Squirrelwaffle Loader to Deploy Qakbot and Cobalt Strike

Oct 27, 2021
A new spam email campaign has emerged as a conduit for a previously undocumented malware loader that enables the attackers to gain an initial foothold into enterprise networks and drop malicious payloads on compromised systems. "These infections are also used to facilitate the delivery of additional malware such as Qakbot and Cobalt Strike, two of the most common threats regularly observed targeting organizations around the world,"  said  researchers with Cisco Talos in a technical write-up. The malspam campaign is believed to have commenced in mid-September 2021 via laced Microsoft Office documents that, when opened, triggers an infection chain that leads to the machines getting infected with a malware dubbed SQUIRRELWAFFLE . Mirroring a technique that's consistent with other phishing attacks of this kind, the latest operation leverages stolen email threads to give it a veil of legitimacy and trick unsuspecting users into opening the attachments. What's more, t
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