The answer to this question is Yes and No (or Probably Not).
Recently, we noticed a heated debate among Arabic-speaking hackers regarding rumors about a new njRAT version, dubbed v0.8d. Some doubted the credibility of the report, cautioning that the new version was probably a fake that would infect everyone who tried to use it. They also claimed that the original njRAT programmer, njq8, had stopped updating it.
Notwithstanding, there is a tutorial with a download link that shows the features of the new version. The video was published on several YouTube accounts and some of them linked the new version to an unknown hacker called Naseer2012 (whose name is similar to njq8‘s real name). In addition, this new njRAT version has aroused interest among Portuguese-speaking hackers, raising assumptions that the njRAT v0.8d developer is actually “Ajnabi” (foreign in Arabic).
The allegedly new njRAT version piqued our curiosity, so we downloaded it from the tutorial. First, the GUI of the new version closely resembles njRAT v0.7d. In addition, our technical analysis revealed that it belongs to the njRAT malware family, based on its Imphash (hash based on portable executable imports that are the functions of the specific malware) and its network signature.
However, it does not have any unique capabilities that distinguish it from the old 0.7d version. Its capabilities, according to our technical analysis, are keylogging, remote shell, remote desktop, password recovery, registry manager, file manager, remote webcam, microphone control, download & execute and DDoS. Unlike njRAT v0.7d, this malware does not have any security features, other than change icon. It can be spread by USB.
Notably, the fact that Naseer2012 thanks njq8 suggests it this not an official upgraded version of the njRAT malware developed by the original programmer.
Since the source code of the worm version of the famous njRAT malware (Njw0rm) was leaked in May 2013, many hackers have developed new malware under different names with numerous capabilities, security features and propagation protocols. However, they all have a common behavior pattern, since they are based on the same source code. In addition, our technical analysis of different RAT malware samples that we detected during 2015 revealed that almost a dozen of them belong to the njRAT family.
So we can all relax as there is no new official njRAT version, but rather a new GUI and new technical indicators of another njRAT-based malware sample.
The following is a YARA rule based on our technical analysis:
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 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.
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.
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:
130[.]75[.]81[.]251 – Leibniz University of Hanover
130[.]149[.]200[.]12 – Technical University of Berlin
171[.]25[.]193[.]9 – DFRI (Swedish non-profit and non-party organization working for digital rights)
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.
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.
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.