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New Variant of Russian Cyclops Blink Botnet Targeting ASUS Routers

New Variant of Russian Cyclops Blink Botnet Targeting ASUS Routers
March 18, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
ASUS routers have emerged as the target of a nascent botnet called Cyclops Blink , almost a month after it was revealed the malware abused WatchGuard firewall appliances as a stepping stone to gain remote access to breached networks. According to a  new report  published by Trend Micro, the botnet's "main purpose is to build an infrastructure for further attacks on high-value targets," given that none of the infected hosts "belong to critical organizations, or those that have an evident value on economic, political, or military espionage." Intelligence agencies from the U.K. and the U.S. have  characterized  Cyclops Blink as a replacement framework for  VPNFilter , another malware that has exploited network devices, primarily small office/home office (SOHO) routers, and network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Both VPNFilter and Cyclops Blink have been attributed to a Russian state-sponsored actor tracked as Sandworm (aka Voodoo Bear), which has also been li

DirtyMoe Botnet Gains New Exploits in Wormable Module to Spread Rapidly

DirtyMoe Botnet Gains New Exploits in Wormable Module to Spread Rapidly
March 17, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The malware known as DirtyMoe has gained new worm-like propagation capabilities that allow it to expand its reach without requiring any user interaction, the latest research has found. "The worming module targets older well-known vulnerabilities, e.g.,  EternalBlue  and  Hot Potato  Windows privilege escalation," Avast researcher Martin Chlumecký  said  in a report published Wednesday. "One worm module can generate and attack hundreds of thousands of private and public IP addresses per day; many victims are at risk since many machines still use unpatched systems or weak passwords." Active since 2016, the  DirtyMoe botnet  is used for carrying out cryptojacking and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and is deployed by means of external exploit kits like  Purple Fox  or injected installers of Telegram Messenger. Also employed as part of the attack sequence is a DirtyMoe service that triggers the launch of two additional processes, namely the Core and

New "B1txor20" Linux Botnet Uses DNS Tunnel and Exploits Log4J Flaw

New "B1txor20" Linux Botnet Uses DNS Tunnel and Exploits Log4J Flaw
March 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously undocumented backdoor has been observed targeting Linux systems with the goal of corralling the machines into a botnet and acting as a conduit for downloading and installing rootkits. Qihoo 360's Netlab security team called it  B1txor20  "based on its propagation using the file name 'b1t,' the XOR encryption algorithm, and the RC4 algorithm key length of 20 bytes." First observed propagating through the  Log4j vulnerability  on February 9, 2022, the malware leverages a technique called DNS tunneling to build communication channels with command-and-control (C2) servers by encoding data in DNS queries and responses. B1txor20, while also buggy in some ways, currently supports the ability to obtain a shell, execute arbitrary commands, install a rootkit, open a  SOCKS5 proxy , and functions to upload sensitive information back to the C2 server. Once a machine is successfully compromised, the malware utilizes the DNS tunnel to retrieve and execute co

Emotet Botnet's Latest Resurgence Spreads to Over 100,000 Computers

Emotet Botnet's Latest Resurgence Spreads to Over 100,000 Computers
March 10, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The insidious Emotet botnet, which staged a return in November 2021 after a 10-month-long hiatus, is once again exhibiting signs of steady growth, amassing a swarm of over 100,000 infected hosts for perpetrating its malicious activities. "While Emotet has not yet attained the same scale it once had, the botnet is showing a strong resurgence with a total of approximately 130,000 unique bots spread across 179 countries since November 2021," researchers from Lumen's Black Lotus Labs  said  in a report. Emotet, prior to its  takedown  in late January 2021 as part of a coordinated law enforcement operation dubbed "Ladybird," had infected no fewer than 1.6 million devices globally, acting as a conduit for cybercriminals to install other types of malware, such as banking trojans or ransomware, onto compromised systems. The malware  officially resurfaced  in November 2021  using TrickBot  as a delivery vehicle, with the latter  shuttering its attack infrastructure

Notorious TrickBot Malware Gang Shuts Down its Botnet Infrastructure

Notorious TrickBot Malware Gang Shuts Down its Botnet Infrastructure
February 25, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The modular Windows crimeware platform known as TrickBot formally shuttered its infrastructure on Thursday after reports emerged of its  imminent retirement  amid a lull in its activity for almost two months, marking an end to one of the most persistent malware campaigns in recent years. "TrickBot is gone... It is official now as of Thursday, February 24, 2022. See you soon... or not," AdvIntel's CEO Vitali Kremez  tweeted . "TrickBot is gone as it has become inefficient for targeted intrusions." Attributed to a Russia-based criminal enterprise called  Wizard Spider , TrickBot started out as a financial trojan in late 2016 and is a derivative of another banking malware called  Dyre  that was dismantled in November 2015. Over the years, it morphed into a veritable Swiss Army knife of malicious capabilities, enabling threat actors to steal information via  web injects  and drop additional payloads. TrickBot's activities took a noticeable hit in October 20

U.S., U.K. Agencies Warn of New Russian Botnet Built from Hacked Firewall Devices

U.S., U.K. Agencies Warn of New Russian Botnet Built from Hacked Firewall Devices
February 24, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Intelligence agencies in the U.K. and the U.S. disclosed details of a new botnet malware called  Cyclops Blink  that's been attributed to the Russian-backed Sandworm hacking group and deployed in attacks dating back to 2019. "Cyclops Blink appears to be a replacement framework for the VPNFilter malware exposed in 2018, which exploited network devices, primarily small office/home office (SOHO) routers, and network-attached storage (NAS) devices," the agencies  said . "In common with VPNFilter, Cyclops Blink deployment also appears indiscriminate and widespread." The  joint government advisory  comes from the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the U.S. Sandworm , aka Voodoo Bear, is the name assigned to a  highly advanced adversary  operating out of Russia that's known to be active since at least 2008.

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 24, 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 17, 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 13, 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 12, 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
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