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Hackers Exploiting Infected Android Devices to Register Disposable Accounts

Hackers Exploiting Infected Android Devices to Register Disposable Accounts
February 21, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An analysis of SMS phone-verified account (PVA) services has led to the discovery of a rogue platform built atop a botnet involving thousands of infected Android phones, once again underscoring the flaws with relying on SMS for account validation. SMS PVA services, since gaining prevalence in 2018, provide users with alternative mobile numbers that can be used to register for other online services and platforms, and help bypass SMS-based authentication and single sign-on (SSO) mechanisms put in place to verify new accounts. "This type of service can be used by malicious actors to register disposable accounts in bulk or create phone-verified accounts for conducting fraud and other criminal activities," Trend Micro researchers  said  in a report published last week. Telemetry data gathered by the company shows that most of the infections are located in Indonesia (47,357), followed by Russia (16,157), Thailand (11,196), India (8,109), and France (5,548), Peru (4,915), Moroc

Researchers Warn of a New Golang-based Botnet Under Continuous Development

Researchers Warn of a New Golang-based Botnet Under Continuous Development
February 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers have unpacked a nascent Golang-based botnet called  Kraken  that's under active development and features an array of backdoor capabilities to siphon sensitive information from compromised Windows hosts. "Kraken already features the ability to download and execute secondary payloads, run shell commands, and take screenshots of the victim's system," threat intelligence firm ZeroFox  said  in a report published Wednesday. Discovered first in October 2021, early variants of Kraken have been found to be based on source code uploaded to GitHub, although it's unclear if the repository in question belongs to the malware's operators or if they simply chose to start their development using the code as a foundation. The botnet – not to be confused with a  2008 botnet  of the same name – is perpetuated using  SmokeLoader , which chiefly acts as a loader for next-stage malware, allowing it to quickly scale in size and expand its network. Kr

FritzFrog P2P Botnet Attacking Healthcare, Education and Government Sectors

FritzFrog P2P Botnet Attacking Healthcare, Education and Government Sectors
February 10, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A peer-to-peer Golang botnet has resurfaced after more than a year to compromise servers belonging to entities in the healthcare, education, and government sectors within a span of a month, infecting a total of 1,500 hosts. Dubbed FritzFrog , "the decentralized botnet targets any device that exposes an SSH server — cloud instances, data center servers, routers, etc. — and is capable of running any malicious payload on infected nodes," Akamai researchers said in a report shared with The Hacker News. The new wave of attacks commenced in early December 2021, only to pick up pace and register a 10x growth in its infection rate in a month's time, while peaking at 500 incidents per day in January 2022. The cybersecurity firm said it detected infected machines in a European television channel network, a Russian manufacturer of healthcare equipment, and multiple universities in East Asia. FritzFrog was  first documented  by Guardicore in August 2020, elaborating the botnet&

Emotet Now Using Unconventional IP Address Formats to Evade Detection

Emotet Now Using Unconventional IP Address Formats to Evade Detection
January 23, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Social engineering campaigns involving the deployment of the Emotet malware botnet have been observed using "unconventional" IP address formats for the first time in a bid to sidestep detection by security solutions. This involves the use of hexadecimal and octal representations of the IP address that, when processed by the underlying operating systems, get automatically converted "to the dotted decimal quad representation to initiate the request from the remote servers," Trend Micro's Threat Analyst, Ian Kenefick,  said  in a report Friday. The infection chains, as with previous Emotet-related attacks, aim to trick users into enabling document macros and automate malware execution. The document uses Excel 4.0 Macros, a feature that has been  repeatedly   abused  by malicious actors to deliver malware. Once enabled, the macro invokes a URL that's obfuscated with carets, with the host incorporating a hexadecimal representation of the IP address — "h

Abcbot Botnet Linked to Operators of Xanthe Cryptomining malware

Abcbot Botnet Linked to Operators of Xanthe Cryptomining malware
January 10, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
New research into the infrastructure behind an emerging DDoS botnet named Abcbot has uncovered "clear" links with a cryptocurrency-mining botnet attack that came to light in December 2020. Attacks involving Abcbot, first  disclosed  by Qihoo 360's Netlab security team in November 2021, are  triggered  via a malicious shell script that targets insecure cloud instances operated by cloud service providers such as Huawei, Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba Cloud to download malware that co-opts the machine to a botnet, but not before terminating processes from competing threat actors and establishing persistence. The shell script in question is itself an iteration of an earlier version originally  discovered  by Trend Micro in October 2021 hitting vulnerable ECS instances inside Huawei Cloud. But in an interesting twist, continued analysis of the botnet by mapping all known Indicators of Compromise (IoCs), including IP addresses, URLs, and samples, has revealed Abcbot's cod

New PseudoManuscrypt Malware Infected Over 35,000 Computers in 2021

New PseudoManuscrypt Malware Infected Over 35,000 Computers in 2021
December 17, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Industrial and government organizations, including enterprises in the military-industrial complex and research laboratories, are the targets of a new malware botnet dubbed  PseudoManyscrypt  that has infected roughly 35,000 Windows computers this year alone. The name comes from its similarities to the  Manuscrypt   malware , which is part of the  Lazarus  APT group's attack toolset, Kaspersky researchers said, characterizing the operation as a "mass-scale spyware attack campaign." The Russian cybersecurity company said it first detected the series of intrusions in June 2021. At least 7.2% of all computers attacked by the malware are part of industrial control systems (ICS) used by organizations in engineering, building automation, energy, manufacturing, construction, utilities, and water management sectors that are located mainly in India, Vietnam, and Russia. Approximately a third (29.4%) of non-ICS computers are situated in Russia (10.1%), India (10%), and Brazil (9.

New Phorpiex Botnet Variant Steals Half a Million Dollars in Cryptocurrency

New Phorpiex Botnet Variant Steals Half a Million Dollars in Cryptocurrency
December 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cryptocurrency users in Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Guatemala, and the Philippines are being targeted by a new variant of the Phorpiex botnet called  Twizt  that has resulted in the theft of virtual coins amounting to $500,000 over the last one year. Israeli security firm Check Point Research, which detailed the attacks, said the latest evolutionary version "enables the botnet to operate successfully without active [command-and-control] servers," adding it supports no less than 35 wallets associated with different blockchains, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, and Zilliqa, to facilitate crypto theft. Phorpiex , otherwise known as Trik, is known for its sextortion spam and ransomware campaigns as well as cryptojacking, a scheme that leverages the targets' devices such as computers, smartphones, and servers to secretly mine cryptocurrency without their consent or knowledge. It's also infamous for its use of a technique called  cry

Apache Log4j Vulnerability — Log4Shell — Widely Under Active Attack

Apache Log4j Vulnerability — Log4Shell — Widely Under Active Attack
December 12, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Threat actors are actively weaponizing unpatched servers affected by the newly identified " Log4Shell " vulnerability in Log4j to install cryptocurrency miners, Cobalt Strike, and recruit the devices into a botnet, even as telemetry signs point to exploitation of the flaw nine days before it even came to light. Netlab, the networking security division of Chinese tech giant Qihoo 360,  disclosed  threats such as  Mirai  and  Muhstik  (aka Tsunami) are setting their sights on vulnerable systems to spread the infection and grow its computing power to orchestrate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks with the goal of overwhelming a target and rendering it unusable. Muhstik was previously spotted exploiting a critical security flaw in Atlassian Confluence ( CVE-2021-26084 , CVSS score: 9.8) earlier this September. The latest development comes as it has emerged that the vulnerability has been under attack for at least more than a week prior to its public disclosure on D

Google Disrupts Blockchain-based Glupteba Botnet; Sues Russian Hackers

Google Disrupts Blockchain-based Glupteba Botnet; Sues Russian Hackers
December 08, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Google on Tuesday said it took steps to disrupt the operations of a sophisticated "multi-component" botnet called Glupteba that approximately infected more than one million Windows computers across the globe and stored its command-and-control server addresses on Bitcoin's blockchain as a resilience mechanism. As part of the efforts, Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) said it partnered with the CyberCrime Investigation Group over the past year to terminate around 63 million Google Docs that were observed to have distributed the malware, alongside 1,183 Google Accounts, 908 Cloud Projects, and 870 Google Ads accounts that were associated with its distribution. Google TAG further said it worked with internet infrastructure providers and hosting providers, such as CloudFlare, to dismantle the malware by taking down servers and placing interstitial warning pages in front of the malicious domains. In tandem, the internet giant also announced a lawsuit against two Russ

140,000 Reasons Why Emotet is Piggybacking on TrickBot in its Return from the Dead

140,000 Reasons Why Emotet is Piggybacking on TrickBot in its Return from the Dead
December 08, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The operators of TrickBot malware have infected an estimated 140,000 victims across 149 countries a little over a year after attempts were to dismantle its infrastructure, even as the advanced Trojan is fast becoming an entry point for Emotet, another botnet that was taken down at the start of 2021. Most of the victims detected since November 1, 2020, are from Portugal (18%), the U.S. (14%), and India (5%), followed by Brazil (4%), Turkey (3%), Russia (3%), and China (3%), Check Point Research noted in a report shared with The Hacker News, with government, finance, and manufacturing entities emerging the top affected industry verticals. "Emotet is a strong indicator of future ransomware attacks, as the malware provides ransomware gangs a backdoor into compromised machines," said the researchers, who detected 223 different Trickbot campaigns over the course of the last six months. Both TrickBot and Emotet are botnets, which are a network of internet-connected devices infe

Notorious Emotet Botnet Makes a Comeback with the Help of TrickBot Malware

Notorious Emotet Botnet Makes a Comeback with the Help of TrickBot Malware
November 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The notorious Emotet malware is staging a comeback of sorts  nearly 10 months  after a coordinated law enforcement operation dismantled its command-and-control infrastructure in late January 2021. According to a  new report  from security researcher Luca Ebach, the infamous  TrickBot  malware is being used as an entry point to distribute what appears to be a new version of Emotet on systems previously infected by the former. The latest  variant  takes the form of a DLL file, with the first occurrence of the deployment being detected on November 14. Europol  dubbed   Emotet  as the "world's most dangerous malware" for its ability to act as a "door opener" for threat actors to obtain unauthorized access, becoming a precursor to many critical data theft and ransomware attacks. Interestingly, the loader operation enabled other malware families such as Trickbot, QakBot, and Ryuk to enter a machine. The resurfacing is also significant not least because it follow

Abcbot — A New Evolving Wormable Botnet Malware Targeting Linux

Abcbot — A New Evolving Wormable Botnet Malware Targeting Linux
November 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Researchers from Qihoo 360's Netlab security team have released details of a new evolving botnet called " Abcbot " that has been observed in the wild with worm-like propagation features to infect Linux systems and launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against targets. While the earliest version of the botnet dates back to July 2021, new variants observed as recently as October 30 have been equipped with additional updates to strike Linux web servers with weak passwords and are susceptible to N-day vulnerabilities, including a custom implementation of DDoS functionality, indicating that the malware is under continuous development. Netlab's findings also build on a report from Trend Micro early last month, which  publicized  attacks targeting Huawei Cloud with cryptocurrency-mining and cryptojacking malware. The intrusions were also notable for the fact that the malicious shell scripts specifically disabled a process designed to monitor and scan the ser

Researchers Uncover 'Pink' Botnet Malware That Infected Over 1.6 Million Devices

Researchers Uncover 'Pink' Botnet Malware That Infected Over 1.6 Million Devices
November 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers disclosed details of what they say is the "largest botnet" observed in the wild in the last six years, infecting over 1.6 million devices primarily located in China, with the goal of launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and inserting advertisements into HTTP websites visited by unsuspecting users. Qihoo 360's Netlab security team dubbed the botnet " Pink " based on a sample obtained on November 21, 2019, owing to a large number of function names starting with "pink." Mainly targeting MIPS-based fiber routers, the botnet leverages a combination of third-party services such as GitHub, peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, and central command-and-control (C2) servers for its bots to controller communications, not to mention completely encrypting the transmission channels to prevent the victimized devices from being taken over. "Pink raced with the vendor to retain control over the infected devices, while vendor

Ukraine Arrests Operator of DDoS Botnet with 100,000 Compromised Devices

Ukraine Arrests Operator of DDoS Botnet with 100,000 Compromised Devices
October 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Ukrainian law enforcement authorities on Monday disclosed the arrest of a hacker responsible for the creation and management of a "powerful botnet" consisting of over 100,000 enslaved devices that was used to carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and spam attacks on behalf of paid customers. The unnamed individual, from the Ivano-Frankivsk region of the country, is also said to have leveraged the automated network to detect vulnerabilities in websites and break into them as well as stage brute-force attacks in order to guess email passwords. The Ukrainian police agency said it conducted a raid of the suspect's residence and seized their computer equipment as evidence of illegal activity. "He looked for customers on the closed forums and Telegram chats and payments were made via blocked electronic payment systems," the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU)  said  in a press statement. The payments were facilitated via WebMoney, a Russian money transfer p

Prometei Botnet Exploiting Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Servers

Prometei Botnet Exploiting Unpatched Microsoft Exchange Servers
April 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Attackers are exploiting the ProxyLogon Microsoft Exchange Server flaws to co-opt vulnerable machines to a cryptocurrency botnet named Prometei, according to new research. "Prometei exploits the recently disclosed Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities associated with the HAFNIUM attacks to penetrate the network for malware deployment, credential harvesting and more," Boston-based cybersecurity firm Cybereason  said  in an analysis summarizing its findings. First documented by Cisco Talos in July 2020,  Prometei  is a multi-modular botnet, with the actor behind the operation employing a wide range of specially-crafted tools and known exploits such as EternalBlue and BlueKeep to harvest credentials, laterally propagate across the network and "increase the amount of systems participating in its Monero-mining pool." "Prometei has both Windows-based and Linux-Unix based versions, and it adjusts its payload based on the detected operating system, on the targeted in

New Mirai Variant and ZHtrap Botnet Malware Emerge in the Wild

New Mirai Variant and ZHtrap Botnet Malware Emerge in the Wild
March 16, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Cybersecurity researchers on Monday disclosed a new wave of ongoing attacks exploiting multiple vulnerabilities to deploy new Mirai variants on internet connected devices. "Upon successful exploitation, the attackers try to download a malicious shell script, which contains further infection behaviors such as downloading and executing Mirai variants and brute-forcers," Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 Threat Intelligence Team  said  in a write-up. The rash of vulnerabilities being exploited include: VisualDoor  - a SonicWall SSL-VPN remote command injection vulnerability that came to light earlier this January CVE-2020-25506  - a D-Link DNS-320 firewall remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability CVE-2021-27561 and CVE-2021-27562  - Two vulnerabilities in Yealink Device Management that allow an unauthenticated attacker to run arbitrary commands on the server with root privileges CVE-2021-22502  - an RCE flaw in Micro Focus Operation Bridge Reporter (OBR), affecting versio

Beware: New Matryosh DDoS Botnet Targeting Android-Based Devices

Beware: New Matryosh DDoS Botnet Targeting Android-Based Devices
February 04, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A nascent malware campaign has been spotted co-opting Android devices into a botnet with the primary purpose of carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Called " Matryosh " by Qihoo 360's Netlab researchers, the latest threat has been found reusing the Mirai botnet framework and propagates through exposed Android Debug Bridge (ADB) interfaces to infect Android devices and ensnare them into its network. ADB is a  command-line tool  part of the Android SDK that handles communications and allows developers to install and debug apps on Android devices. While this option is turned off by default on most Android smartphones and tablets, some vendors ship with this feature enabled, thus allowing unauthenticated attackers to connect remotely via the 5555 TCP port and open the devices directly to exploitation. This is not the first time a botnet has taken advantage of ADB to infect vulnerable devices. In July 2018, open ADB ports were used to spread multip

Wormable Gitpaste-12 Botnet Returns to Target Linux Servers, IoT Devices

Wormable Gitpaste-12 Botnet Returns to Target Linux Servers, IoT Devices
December 15, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A new wormable botnet that spreads via GitHub and Pastebin to install cryptocurrency miners and backdoors on target systems has returned with expanded capabilities to compromise web applications, IP cameras, and routers. Early last month, researchers from Juniper Threat Labs documented a crypto-mining campaign called " Gitpaste-12 ," which used GitHub to host malicious code containing as many as 12 known attack modules that are executed via commands downloaded from a Pastebin URL. The attacks occurred during a 12-day period starting from October 15, 2020, before both the Pastebin URL and repository were shut down on October 30, 2020. Now according to Juniper, the  second wave of attacks  began on November 10 using payloads from a different GitHub repository, which, among others, contains a Linux crypto-miner ("ls"), a file with a list of passwords for brute-force attempts ("pass"), and a local privilege escalation exploit for x86_64 Linux systems. Th
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