Do you know the notion “machine war”? If you’re a fan of the Matrix movie trilogy then probably, yes. It denotes the fictional rise of artificially intelligent machines against the human race and their violent conquest of human beings. We want to apply a similar dominance of computationally powerful machines, not to create a population of slaves, but against numerous malicious Android packages that wildly proliferate on unofficial markets.
The idea of malware detection with no human interaction appeared earlier on our blog. In a fundamental article about AVAST research activities by AVAST’s COO, Ondřej Vlček, he effectively described the technologies we employ to deal with Windows threats. Two techniques have been mentioned explicitly, Malware Similarity Search and Evo-Gen, both working with Windows PE file format. Sometimes the latter form of detection technique is denoted as weak automated anti-malware heuristic.
The main effort is to reach two slightly conflicting qualities at the same time: The robustness, which means that suggested methods cover as many threats as possible; and simplicity, so that the methods are easily implemented in AVAST’s mobile security solution. The search for balance between those qualities is assisted by lessons learned from automated heuristic for Windows PE executables.
At the turn of the year we started to observe a Trojan, not much discussed previously (with a brand new final payload). It has many interesting aspects: It possesses a complex structure containing both 32-bit and 64-bit code; it achieves its persistence with highly invasive methods; and it is robust enough to contain various payloads/functionalites.
Evolution of Blackbeard
Confronting this threat for the first time, we wondered about its classification. Using AVAST’s Malware Similarity Search, we found an old sample (the TimeStamp said “02 / 20 / 12 @ 3:30:55am UTC”) in the malware database that shared the threat’s structure of PE header. Moreover, it also contained debug info with a string “Blackbeard,” so we decided to dub it like that.
The development of the code evolved in time. We can connect a part of the infection chain of this Trojan with the threat called Win32/64:Viknok. For both the historic and the current variant of Blackbeard, the complexity of the structure is sketched on this scheme:
By definition, Adware is a program bundle which renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. In a more strict sense, e.g. for security solutions, it means an application/installer whose nature lies somewhere between a potentially unwanted application and proper malware, like Trojans or Spyware. It might use more or less aggressive methods, starting with tricks and ending with fraud, to achieve its goals to benefit its distributor, while staying as innocent as possible on first sight. We blogged about an adware downloader a year ago.
Now we focus on two selected adware examples: The first is a Windows installer called Linkular and the second is a well-known application called Genieo (with a focus on its OS X version.) Being in the wild for a few months, the detection within AV products reached only partial coverage in both cases, with very similar numbers on VirusTotal (~10-20 %, see Sources below). However, the OS X adware Genieo is additionally flagged by OS X-specific security solutions. Considering maliciousness, the Windows adware is far more dangerous and invasive than the OS X one and also more than other Windows Adware examples we usually see. Here’s the comparison:
|Distribution strategy||Advertisement Network||unknown|
|Software Download site||coolestmovie.info||www.genieo.com|
|Rank on alexa.com||~4200||~3000|
|Masking||VLC Player + Addon||Flash Player (*)|
|Payload||SpeedUpMyPC; Multiplug; Bitcoinminer;OneStep/BasicServe||Codemc; Photo.it; Qtrax(**)|
|Change of browser start page||YES||YES|
|Persistance||YES (of payload)||YES|
|Obfuscation||YES (of payload)||NO|
|Digitally signed||YES (both installer & payload)||YES|
(*) masking is not connected with the official site, but some of its distribution partners
(**) related to older installers; not presented anymore
In recent days, the avast! Virus Lab has observed a high activity of malware distributed through exploit kits. Most cases of infection are small websites which usually provide adult entertainment, but there was also news about one of the top 300 visited websites being infected.
Infection chains ended dropping a final payload in a form of an executable file with a constant, not wide-spread name like 1SKKKKKKK.exe. After a closer look, we found that this filename is shared among aggressive malware threats – banking Trojans like Win32:Citadel, Win32:Shylock/Caphaw, Win32:Ranbyus, Win32:Spyeye; stealthy infostealers like Win32:Neurevt (a.k.a. BetaBot), Win32:Gamarue, Win32:Cridex, Win32:Fareit; and even file infectors like Win32/64:Expiro(infected dbghlp.exe).
We received ~1000 unique samples in the last 10 days which possess suspicious filenames, polymorphically covering ~30 malware families with many different packers. Researching infected iframes in our databases, we discovered an infection chain which leads to a payload with a strange name that looks like this:
In recent weeks, malware samples resolved as Win32/64:Napolar from AVAST’s name pools generated a lot of hits within our file and network shields. Independently, we observed an advertising campaign of a new Trojan dubbed Solarbot that started around May 2013. This campaign did not run through shady hacking forums as we are used to, but instead it ran through a website indexed in the main search engines. The website is called http://solarbot.net and presents its offer with a professional looking design:
For the Win32/64:Napolar Trojan, the pipe used to inter-process communication is named \\.\pipe\napSolar. Together with the presence of character strings like “CHROME.DLL,” “OPERA.DLL,” “trusteer,” “data_inject,” and features we’ll mention later, we have almost no doubts that the Trojan and Solarbot coincide. Let us look at some analysis.
A new threat for the Linux platform was first mentioned on August 7th by RSA researchers, where it was dubbed Hand of Thief. The two main capabilities of this Trojan are form-grabbing of Linux-specific browsers and entering a victim’s computer by a back-door. Moreover, it is empowered with features like anti-virtualization and anti-monitoring. With the level of overall sophistication Hand of Thief displays, it can be compared to infamous non-Windows threats such as the FlashBack Trojan for MacOsX platform discovered last year or Trojan Obad for Android from recent times.
A detailed analysis uncovers the following structure of the initial file with all parts after the dropper being encrypted (hexadecimal number displays starting offset of a block):
On Friday, July 12th a warning from an AVAST fan about a new polymorphic multisystem threat came to an inbox of AVAST. Moreover, an archive of malicious files discussed here were attached. Some of them have been uploaded to Virustotal and therefore they have been shared with computer security professionals on the same day. A weekend had passed by and articles full of excitement about a new Trojan for MacOs started to appear on the web. We decided to make a thorough analysis and not to quickly jump on the bandwagon. The key observation is that the final payload comes in the form of scripts needed to be interpreted by Windows Script Console resp; Python in the case of MacOs. Moreover a script generator that creates new malicious Windows file shortcuts was also included.
A chain of events that installs a malicious Visual Basic script on Windows platform looks like this:
When the mastermind hackers of the notorious Carberp Banking Trojan were arrested, we thought the story had ended. But a sample that we received on May 7th, a month after the arrests, looked very suspicious. It connected to a well known URL pattern and it really was the Carberp Trojan. Moreover, the domain it connected to was registered on April 9th!
Taking a closer look into the PE header, it was observed that the TimeDateStamp (02 / 27 / 13 @ 12:19:29pm EST) displayed a bit earlier date than the date of the arrests of the cybercriminals, and the URL was a part of larger botnet where plenty of Russian bots are involved. So the case was closed as a lost sample within a distribution process.
After using our internal Malware Similarity Search to catch as many malware samples as possible, a cluster appeared. It contained some well-known families like Zbot, Dofoil, Gamarue, and some fresh families like Win32/64:Viknok and Win32:Lyposit. The latter is a dynamic link library and it caught our attention by a quite sophisticated loader and a final payload. Read more…
The begining of spring seems to be an unsuccessful period of the year for cybercriminals in Eastern Europe. There is recent news referring to a neutralization of a group of hackers by joint cooperation between the Security Service of Ukraine with the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) on the web. These hackers are responsible for the infamous Trojan called Carberp.
Due to this recent information, we are allowed to say that Carberp was as a mainstream Trojan that monitored the environment of infected computers and exploited remote banking systems. It was a robust modular malware that improved its capabilities by drive-by-downloaded dynamic libraries – plugins. It was not only successfully grabbing money from victim’s bank accounts but also the attention of security experts both in an industrial and an academic sphere (an example of a paper). Therefore there are plenty of references on the web considering the methods of a system invasion, protection by polymorphic outer layers and a persistence of the Trojan. We will try to fill in some gaps in the picture.
Carberp started its progress approximately in autumn 2010. Later in spring 2011 it was split into two main branches regarding the form of HTTP requests. Read more…