Exploit kits may be down, but they’re not out. While they’re still using the same techniques that involve malvertisements or embedding links in spam and malicious or compromised websites, their latest activities are making them significant factors in the threat landscape again. This is the case with Rig and GrandSoft, as well as the private exploit kit Magnitude — exploit kits we found roping in relatively recent vulnerabilities to deliver cryptocurrency-mining malware, ransomware, botnet loaders, and banking trojans.Read More
REDBALDKNIGHT, also known as BRONZE BUTLER and Tick, is a cyberespionage group known to target Japanese organizations such as government agencies (including defense) as well as those in biotechnology, electronics manufacturing, and industrial chemistry. Their campaigns employ the Daserf backdoor (detected by Trend Micro as BKDR_DASERF, otherwise known as Muirim and Nioupale) that has four main capabilities: execute shell commands, download and upload data, take screenshots, and log keystrokes.
Our recent telemetry, however, indicates that variants of Daserf were not only used to spy on and steal from Japanese and South Korean targets, but also against Russian, Singaporean, and Chinese enterprises. We also found various versions of Daserf that employ different techniques and use steganography—embedding codes in unexpected mediums or locations (i.e., images)—to conceal themselves better.Read More
A new ransomware is being distributed by the Magnitude exploit kit: Magniber (detected by Trend Micro as RANSOM_MAGNIBER.A), which we found targeting South Korea via malvertisements on attacker-owned domains/sites. The development in Magnitude’s activity is notable not only because it eschewed Cerber—its usual ransomware payload—in favor of Magniber. Magnitude now also appears to have become an exploit kit expressly targeting South Korean end users.
The Magnitude exploit kit, which previously had a global reach, was offered as a service in the cybercriminal underground as early as 2013. It then left the market and became a private exploit kit that mainly distributed ransomware such as CryptoWall. At the start of the second half of 2016, Magnitude shifted focus to Asian countries, delivering various ransomware such as Locky and Cerber. More recently though, we noticed that Magnitude underwent a hiatus that began on September 23, 2017, and it then returned on October 15. With help from Kafeine and malc0de, we were able to uncover Magnitude’s new payload, Magniber.Read More
The exploit kit landscape has been rocky since 2016, and we’ve observed several of the major players—Angler, Nuclear, Neutrino, Sundown—take a dip in operations or go private. New kits have popped up sporadically since then, sometimes revamped from old sources, but none have really gained traction. Despite that fact, cybercriminals continue to develop more of them.
The decline of exploit kit activity—particularly from well-known exploit kits like Magnitude, Nuclear, Neutrino, and Rig during the latter half of 2016—doesn’t mean exploit kits are throwing in the towel just yet. This is the case with Astrum (also known as Stagano), an old and seemingly reticent exploit kit we observed to have been updated multiple times as of late.
Astrum’s recent activities feature several upgrades and shows how it’s starting to move away from the more established malware mentioned above. It appears these changes were done to lay the groundwork for future campaigns, and possibly to broaden its use. With a modus operandi that deters analysis and forensics by abusing the Diffie-Hellman key exchange, it appears Astrum is throwing down the gauntlet.Read More