Threat Report

Wednesday May 8, 2019

Get your hot keys ready, we have a boatload of indicators for you to copy and paste this week. But first, we need to cover some recent events in security.

The IDF showed off military response to cyber threats with video release, APT Buckeye was hitting bullseyes a year early in timeline revelation, and ransomware was getting busy on both sides of the pond in two recently disclosed breaches.

Last but not least, we have details on a new variant of a familiar banking trojan that’s got stealthy tricks up its sleeve.

IDF goes above and beyond to respond to cyber threat

How far do you go in response to cyber threats? On Saturday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that a building used by Hamas cyber operatives was bombed as part of a joint retaliation operation with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Unit 8200 of Military Intelligence, following an unsuccessful cyber-attack against Israel.

IDF’s attack on the Hamas cyber operations center came during intensive fire exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians, which led to the exchange of roughly 900 rockets and, eventually, with an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire that began Monday 4:30 A.M.

This is the first time Israel responded to state-backed hacking attempts with force, effectively moving cyber-attacks into the war theater and making it clear that similar future endeavors might also be facing a comparable reaction.

However, this is not the first time we’ve seen military force in response to cyber threats.

It is unclear at present what the aim was of the unsuccessful Hamas cyber-attack which prompted military response.

Buckeye using Equation Group exploits one year before Shadow Brokers

New evidence has been found that cyber espionage group APT3 (aka Buckeye) began using the Equation Group Tools in attacks 14 months prior to the Shadow Brokers leak.

Buckeye had been active since at least 2009 and is known for exploiting 0-day vulnerabilities. In recent attacks, Buckeye began using a custom exploit kit named “Bemstour” that exploits two Windows 0-days to achieve a remote kernel code execution on targeted computers. Then they deploy the DOUBLEPULSAR backdoor, which was released in 2017 by the Shadow Brokers.

Some of the Shadow Brokers set of tools and techniques were used by APT3 during an attack on an educational institution in Hong Kong on March 2016, a year before Shadow Brokers used the Equation Group exploits.

Additionally, the variant of DOUBLEPULSAR used in first attacks performed by APT3 was different from that leaked by the Shadow Brokers because it contains a code to target newer versions of Windows and includes an additional layer of obfuscation.

Hashes

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MegaCortex and RobinHood ransomware in the UK and U.S. making news

A recent report released on Reddit confirmed that the Wolters Kluwer, a publishing information service provider in the UK, was infected by MegaCortex ransomware. On May 6, Wolters Kluwer noticed a number of technical anomalies in their platforms and applications following the detection of the installation of the malware on its platform.

Wolters responded immediately to take a broader range of platforms and applications offline to limit the impact of the MegaCortex ransomware. On the following day, Wolters was able to restore service to a number of applications and platforms. In their findings, Wolters believes that no customer data was taken and leaked. Wolters Kluwer is currently working to restore all UK services following a reported MegaCortex ransomware attack.

On the other side of the pond, the city of Baltimore was hit by a ransomware attack that forced the shutdown of most city servers. City Hall employees were instructed to unplug Ethernet cables and turn off computers, printers, and other devices, Democratic city councilman Ryan Dorsey said to the publication. He indicated the attack was “spreading computer to computer.”

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Democratic mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, noted this attack was similar to the ransomware campaign that infected Greenville, NC, last month. In that case, officials found a form of ransomware called RobinHood. It has not yet been determined which specific type of threat has been used in this particular attack against Baltimore.

This marks the second time ransomware has hit Baltimore. In March 2018, a cyberattack infected the city’s 911 dispatch system and took down automated dispatches for 911 and 311 calls.

New Qakbot variant of banking trojan hides to avoid detection

A new variant of Qakbot has been observed in the wild which improves its evasion skills and techniques that can make it harder for users to detect and remove the infection.

Qakbot, also known as Qbot, is a banking trojan that is used by threat actors to steal banking credentials and financial data which then creates backdoors on compromised machines. Additionally, the malware has utilized scheduled tasks to maintain persistence. The malware starts its infection via a dropper on a targeted machine.

Once infected, the victim’s machine will create a scheduled task to execute a JavaScript downloader that makes a request to one of several hijacked domains. The downloader will grab two files containing encrypted data from one of the hijacked domains used by the attackers that will be saved as (randalpha)_1.zzz and (randalpha)_2.zzz.

The first 1,000 bytes of data are saved to the first .zzz file, while the remainder goes to the second file. The second scheduled task added by Qakbot will be used to re-assemble the decrypted data from the two downloaded .zzz files with the help of a specially-crafted batch file.

According to Talos, a spike in requests to the hijacked domains was first observed on April right after a number of changes were also made during March 19, 2019. Additionally, the comment string is contained within the malicious JavaScript downloader, suggesting that actors updated the code on March 15, 2019.

The new capabilities were added at the start of the newly detected malware campaign. Because of this update to persistence mechanisms, the transfer of the malicious Qbot binary will be obfuscated to the point that some security products could miss it.

We’re going out with a bang of indicators. Happy copy and pasting. For Perch customers, we’ve checked and we’ve reached out to you if we saw any hits.

Domains

lg.prodigyprinting[.]com 
layering.wyattspaintbody[.]net 
painting.duncan-plumbing[.]com 
hp.prodigyprinting[.]com 

Hashes

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Paul Scott

Paul Scott
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