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Vidar Info-Stealer Malware Distributed via Malvertising on Google

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30
Jan 2023
30
Jan 2023
This blog post highlights the recent malvertising campaigns targeting Google searches that deploy info-stealer malware. It covers the attackers' techniques and provides a list of indicators of compromise. Recommendations for the general public are also included to help mitigate the risk of falling victim to such attacks.

In recent weeks, security researchers and cyber security vendors have noted an increase in malvertising campaigns on Google, aimed at infiltrating info-stealer malware into the systems of unsuspecting victims, as reported in sources [1] [2]. It has been observed that when individuals search for popular tools such as Notepad++, Zoom, AnyDesk, Foxit, Photoshop, and others on Google, they may encounter ads that redirect them to malicious sites. This report aims to provide a high-level analysis of one such campaign, specifically focusing on the delivery of the Vidar Info-stealer malware.

Campaign Details

On the 25th of January 2023, Darktrace researchers observed that the advertisement depicted in Figure 1 was being displayed on Google when searching for the term "Notepad++" from within the United States.

Figure 1: Google Ad shown when searching for Notepad++

As can be seen in Figure 2, the advertisement in question had no visible information regarding its publisher.

Figure 2: Advertisement information

Clicking on the advertisement would direct potential victims to the website notepadplusplus.site, which had been registered on the 4th of January and is hosted on IP address 37.140.192.11. Upon selecting the desired version of the software, a download button is presented to the visitor.

Figure 3: Malicious site with fake Notepad++
Figure 4: Malicious site with fake Notepad++

When clicking on Download, regardless of the version selected, the traffic is then redirected to https://download-notepad-plus-plus.duckdns.org/, and a .zip file with name “npp.Installer.x64.zip” is downloaded.

Figure 5: Traffic redirection

Upon extraction, the file "npp.Installer.x64.exe" has a file size of 684.1 megabytes. The significant size is attributed to the inclusion of an excessive number of null bytes, which serve to prevent the file from being scanned by some Antivirus and uploaded to malware analysis platforms such as VirusTotal, which has a file size limit of 650 megabytes.

Figure 6: npp.Installer.x64.zip

Initially, padding was incorporated at the end of the executable, enabling individuals to remove it while maintaining a fully functional file. However, in the sample analysed in this report, padding was inserted into the binary's central region. This method renders the removal of padding more challenging, as simply deleting the zeroes would compromise the integrity of the file and impede its functionality during dynamic analysis.

Figure 7: Beginning of null bytes padding

Figure 8: End of null bytes padding

After execution, the malware promptly establishes a connection to a Telegram channel to acquire its command and control (C2) address, specifically http://95.217.16.127. If Telegram is not available, the malware will then attempt to connect to a profile on video game platform Steam, in which case the C2 address was http://157.90.148.112/ at the time of initial analysis and http://116.203.6.107 later. It then proceeds to check-in and obtain its configuration file and subsequently downloads get.zip, an archive containing several legitimate DLL libraries, which are utilized to extract information and saved passwords from various applications and browsers. Through traffic analysis, the method by which the malware obtains its Command and Control (C2) location, and analysis of the configuration obtained, it can be assessed with high confidence that the malware in question is the info-stealer known as Vidar. Vidar has been extensively covered by various cybersecurity organizations. Further information regarding this info-stealer and its origins can be found here[3].

Figure 9: Telegram traffic
Figure 10: Telegram channel containing the location of Vidar’s C2 address
Figure 11: Steam profile containing the location of Vidar’s C2 address
Figure 12: Vidar C2 traffic
Figure 13: Vidar configuration obtained from the C2
Figure 14: Libraries downloaded by Vidar

Campaign ID 827

The domain download-notepad-plus-plus.duckdns.org, from which the malware is distributed, resolves to the IP address 185.163.204.10. Using passive DNS, it has been determined that multiple domains also resolve to this IP address. This information suggests that the threat group responsible for this campaign is also utilizing advertising to target individuals searching for specific applications besides Notepad++, including:

  • OBS Studio
  • Davinci Resolve
  • Sqlite
  • Rufus
  • Krita

Furthermore, it has been observed that all the malware samples obtained in this investigation connect to the same Telegram channel, utilize the same two Command and Control IP addresses, and share the same campaign ID of "827".

Schlussfolgerung 

The recent proliferation of malvertising campaigns, which are employed by cyber-criminals to distribute malware, has become a significant cause for concern. Unlike more traditional infection vectors, such as email, malvertising is harder to protect against. Furthermore, the use of padding techniques to inflate the size of malware payloads can make detection and analysis more challenging.

To mitigate the risk of falling victim to such attacks, it is recommended to exercise caution when interacting with online advertisements. Specifically, it is advisable to avoid clicking on any advertisements while searching for free software on search engines and to instead download programs directly from official sources. This approach can reduce the likelihood of inadvertently downloading malware from untrusted sources. 

Another effective measure to counteract the threat of malicious ads is the utilization of ad-blocker software. The implementation of an ad-blocker can provide an additional layer of protection against malvertising campaigns and enhance overall cybersecurity.

Appendices

Indicators of Compromise

Filename        npp.Installer.x64.zip

SHA256 Hash  7DFD1D4FE925F802513FEA5556DE53706D9D8172BFA207D0F8AAB3CEF46424E8

Filename         npp.Installer.x64.exe

SHA256 Hash  368008b450397c837f0b9c260093935c5cef56646e16a375ba7c47fea5562bfd

Filename         rufus-3.21.zip

SHA256 Hash  75db4f8187abf49376a6ff3de0163b2d708d72948ea4b3d5645b86a0e41af084

Filename         rufus-3.21.exe

SHA256 Hash  169603a5b5d23dc2f02dc0f88a73dcdd08a5c62d12203fb53a3f43998c04bb41

Filename         DaVinci_Resolve_18.1.2_Windows.zip

SHA256 Hash  73f00e3b3ab01f4d5de42790f9ab12474114abe10cd5104f623aef9029c15b1e

Filename         DaVinci_Resolve_18.1.2_Windows.exe

SHA256 Hash  169603a5b5d23dc2f02dc0f88a73dcdd08a5c62d12203fb53a3f43998c04bb41

Filename         krita-x64-5.1.5-setup.zip

SHA256 Hash  85eb4b0e3922312d88ca046d89909fba078943aea3b469d82655a253e0d3ac67

Filename         krita-x64-5.1.5-setup.exe

SHA256 Hash  169603a5b5d23dc2f02dc0f88a73dcdd08a5c62d12203fb53a3f43998c04bb41

URL      http://95.217.16.127/827

URL      http://95.217.16.127/get.zip

URL      http://95.217.16.127/

URL      http://157.90.148.112/827

URL     http://157.90.148.112/

URL      http://157.90.148.112/get.zip

URL      http://116.203.6.107/

Domain           notepadplusplus.site

Domain           download-notepad-plus-plus.duckdns.org

Domain           download-obsstudio.duckdns.org

Domain           dowbload-notepadd.duckdns.org

Domain           dowbload-notepad1.duckdns.org

Domain           download-davinci-resolve.duckdns.org

Domain           download-davinci.duckdns.org

Domain           download-sqlite.duckdns.org

Domain           download-davinci17.duckdns.org

Domain           download-rufus.duckdns.org

Domain           download-kritapaint.duckdns.org

IP Address      37.140.192.11

IP Address      185.163.204.10

IP Address      95.217.16.127

IP Address       157.90.148.112

IP Address      116.203.6.107

URL      https://t.me/litlebey

URL      https://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561199472399815

References

[1] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/hackers-push-malware-via-google-search-ads-for-vlc-7-zip-ccleaner/

[2] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ransomware-access-brokers-use-google-ads-to-breach-your-network/

[3] https://www.team-cymru.com/post/darth-vidar-the-dark-side-of-evolving-threat-infrastructure

EINBLICKE IN DAS SOC-Team
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Looking Beyond Secure Email Gateways with the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/Email

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09
Apr 2024

Organizations Should Demand More from their Email Security

In response to a more intricate threat landscape, organizations should view email security as a critical component of their defense-in-depth strategy, rather than defending the inbox alone with a traditional Secure Email Gateway (SEG). Organizations need more than a traditional gateway – that doubles, instead of replaces, the capabilities provided by native security vendor – and require an equally granular degree of analysis across all messaging, including inbound, outbound, and lateral mail, plus Teams messages.  

Darktrace/Email is the industry’s most advanced cloud email security, powered by Self-Learning AI. It combines AI techniques to exceed the accuracy and efficiency of leading security solutions, and is the only security built to elevate, not duplicate, native email security.  

With its largest update ever, Darktrace/Email introduces the following innovations, finally allowing security teams to look beyond secure email gateways with autonomous AI:

  • AI-augmented data loss prevention to stop the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats
  • an easy way to deploy DMARC quickly with AI
  • major enhancements to streamline SOC workflows and increase the detection of sophisticated phishing links
  • expansion of Darktrace’s leading AI prevention to lateral mail, account compromise and Microsoft Teams

What’s New with Darktrace/Email  

Data Loss Prevention  

Block the entire spectrum of outbound mail threats with advanced data loss prevention that builds on tags in native email to stop unknown, accidental, and malicious data loss

Darktrace understands normal at individual user, group and organization level with a proven AI that detects abnormal user behavior and dynamic content changes. Using this understanding, Darktrace/Email actions outbound emails to stop unknown, accidental and malicious data loss.  

Traditional DLP solutions only take into account classified data, which relies on the manual input of labelling each data piece, or creating rules to catch pattern matches that try to stop data of certain types leaving the organization. But in today’s world of constantly changing data, regular expression and fingerprinting detection are no longer enough.

  • Human error – Because it understands normal for every user, Darktrace/Email can recognize cases of misdirected emails. Even if the data is correctly labelled or insensitive, Darktrace recognizes when the context in which it is being sent could be a case of data loss and warns the user.  
  • Unclassified data – Whereas traditional DLP solutions can only take action on classified data, Darktrace analyzes the range of data that is either pending labels or can’t be labeled with typical capabilities due to its understanding of the content and context of every email.  
  • Insider threat – If a malicious actor has compromised an account, data exfiltration may still be attempted on encrypted, intellectual property, or other forms of unlabelled data to avoid detection. Darktrace analyses user behaviour to catch cases of unusual data exfiltration from individual accounts.

And classification efforts already in place aren’t wasted – Darktrace/Email extends Microsoft Purview policies and sensitivity labels to avoid duplicate workflows for the security team, combining the best of both approaches to ensure organizations maintain control and visibility over their data.

End User and Security Workflows

Achieve more than 60% improvement in the quality of end-user phishing reports and detection of sophisticated malicious weblinks1

Darktrace/Email improves end-user reporting from the ground up to save security team resource. Employees will always be on the front line of email security – while other solutions assume that end-user reporting is automatically of poor quality, Darktrace prioritizes improving users’ security awareness to increase the quality of end-user reporting from day one.  

Users are empowered to assess and report suspicious activity with contextual banners and Cyber AI Analyst generated narratives for potentially suspicious emails, resulting in 60% fewer benign emails reported.  

Out of the higher-quality emails that end up being reported, the next step is to reduce the amount of emails that reach the SOC. Darktrace/Email’s Mailbox Security Assistant automates their triage with secondary analysis combining additional behavioral signals – using x20 more metrics than previously – with advanced link analysis to detect 70% more sophisticated malicious phishing links.2 This directly alleviates the burden of manual triage for security analysts.

For the emails that are received by the SOC, Darktrace/Email uses automation to reduce time spent investigating per incident. With live inbox view, security teams gain access to a centralized platform that combines intuitive search capabilities, Cyber AI Analyst reports, and mobile application access. Analysts can take remediation actions from within Darktrace/Email, eliminating console hopping and accelerating incident response.

Darktrace takes a user-focused and business-centric approach to email security, in contrast to the attack-centric rules and signatures approach of secure email gateways

Microsoft Teams

Detect threats within your Teams environment such as account compromise, phishing, malware and data loss

Around 83% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Microsoft Office products and services, particularly Teams and SharePoint.3

Darktrace now leverages the same behavioral AI techniques for Microsoft customers across 365 and Teams, allowing organizations to detect threats and signals of account compromise within their Teams environment including social engineering, malware and data loss.  

The primary use case for Microsoft Teams protection is as a potential entry vector. While messaging has traditionally been internal only, as organizations open up it is becoming an entry vector which needs to be treated with the same level of caution as email. That’s why we’re bringing our proven AI approach to Microsoft Teams, that understands the user behind the message.  

Anomalous messaging behavior is also a highly relevant indicator of whether a user has been compromised. Unlike other solutions that analyze Microsoft Teams content which focus on payloads, Darktrace goes beyond basic link and sandbox analysis and looks at actual user behavior from both a content and context perspective. This linguistic understanding isn’t bound by the requirement to match a signature to a malicious payload, rather it looks at the context in which the message has been delivered. From this analysis, Darktrace can spot the early symptoms of account compromise such as early-stage social engineering before a payload is delivered.

Lateral Mail Analysis

Detect and respond to internal mailflow with multi-layered AI to prevent account takeover, lateral phishing and data leaks

The industry’s most robust account takeover protection now prevents lateral mail account compromise. Darktrace has always looked at internal mail to inform inbound and outbound decisions, but will now elevate suspicious lateral mail behaviour using the same AI techniques for inbound, outbound and Teams analysis.

Darktrace integrates signals from across the entire mailflow and communication patterns to determine symptoms of account compromise, now including lateral mailflow

Unlike other solutions which only analyze payloads, Darktrace analyzes a whole range of signals to catch lateral movement before a payload is delivered. Contributing yet another layer to the AI behavioral profile for each user, security teams can now use signals from lateral mail to spot the early symptoms of account takeover and take autonomous actions to prevent further compromise.

DMARC

Gain in-depth visibility and control of 3rd parties using your domain with an industry-first AI-assisted DMARC

Darktrace has created the easiest path to brand protection and compliance with the new Darktrace/DMARC. This new capability continuously stops spoofing and phishing from the enterprise domain, while automatically enhancing email security and reducing the attack surface.

Darktrace/DMARC helps to upskill businesses by providing step by step guidance and automated record suggestions provide a clear, efficient road to enforcement. It allows organizations to quickly achieve compliance with requirements from Google, Yahoo, and others, to ensure that their emails are reaching mailboxes.  

Meanwhile, Darktrace/DMARC helps to reduce the overall attack surface by providing visibility over shadow-IT and third-party vendors sending on behalf of an organization’s brand, while informing recipients when emails from their domains are sent from un-authenticated DMARC source.

Darktrace/DMARC integrates with the wider Darktrace product platform, sharing insights to help further secure your business across Email Attack Path and Attack Surface management.

Schlussfolgerung

To learn more about the new innovations to Darktrace/Email download the solution brief here.

All of the new updates to Darktrace/Email sit within the new Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform, creating a feedback loop between email security and the rest of the digital estate for better protection. Click to read more about the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform or to hear about the latest innovations to Darktrace/OT, the most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for critical infrastructures.  

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.

References

[1] Internal Darktrace Research

[2] Internal Darktrace Research

[3] Essential Microsoft Office Statistics in 2024

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Carlos Gray
Product Manager

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Managing Risk Beyond CVE Scores With the Latest Innovations to Darktrace/OT

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09
Apr 2024

Identifying Cyber Risk in Industrial Organizations

Compromised OT devices in ICS and SCADA environments pose significant physical risks, even endangering lives. However, identifying CVEs in the multitude of complex OT devices is labor-intensive and time-consuming, draining valuable resources.

Even after identifying a vulnerability, implementing a patch presents its own challenges limited maintenance windows and the need for uninterrupted operations strain IT and OT teams often leading organizations to prioritize availability over security leading vulnerabilities remaining unresolved for over 5 years on average. (1)

Darktrace’s New Innovation

Darktrace is an industry leader in cybersecurity with 10+ years of experience securing OT environments where we take a fundamentally different approach using Self-Learning AI to enhance threat detection and response.

Continuing to combat the expanding threat landscape, Darktrace is excited to announce new capabilities that enable a contextualized and proactive approach to managing cyber risk at industrial organizations.

Today we launch an innovation to our OT Cybersecurity solution, Darktrace/OT, that will add a layer of proactivity, enabling a comprehensive approach to risk management. This industry leading innovation for Darktrace/OT moves beyond CVE scores to redefine vulnerability management for critical infrastructure, tackling the full breadth of risks not limited by traditional controls.  

Darktrace/OT is the only OT security solution with comprehensive Risk Management which includes:

  • Contextualized risk analysis unique to your organization
  • The most realistic evaluation and prioritization of OT risk
  • Effectively mitigate risk across your OT infrastructure, with and without patching.
  • The only OT security solution that evaluates your defenses against Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) Groups.

The most comprehensive prevention, detection, and response solution purpose built for Critical Infrastructures

Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI technology is a cutting-edge innovation that implements real time prevention, detection, response, and recovery for operational technologies and enables a fundamental shift from the traditional approach to cyber defense by learning a ‘pattern of life’ for every network, device, and user.  

Rather than relying on knowledge of past attacks, AI technology learns what is ‘normal’ for its environment, discovering previously unknown threats by detecting subtle shifts in behavior. Through identifying these unexpected anomalies, security teams can investigate novel attacks, discover blind spots, have live time visibility across all their physical and digital assets, and reduce time to detect, respond to, and triage security events.  

  • Achieve greater visibility of OT and IT devices across all levels of the Purdue Model.
  • The industry's only OT security to scale threat detection and response, with a 92% time saving from triage to recovery.  
  • The only OT focused security solution to provide bespoke Risk Management.

To learn more about how Darktrace/OT approaches unique use cases for industrial organizations visit the Darktrace/OT Webpage or join us LIVE at a city near you.

Read more below to discover how new innovations to Darktrace/OT are bringing a new, contextualized approach to Risk Management for Industrial organizations.

For more information on the entire Darktrace/OT Solution read our solution brief here.

Darktrace/OT and New Risk Management

Risk Identification

Leveraging the visibility of Darktrace/OT which identifies individual systems throughout the Purdue Model and the relationship between them, Darktrace/OT identifies high-risk CVEs and presents potential attack routes that go beyond techniques requiring a known exploit, such as misuse of legitimate services. Each attack path will have a mathematical evaluation of difficulty and impact from initial access to the high value objectives.  

Together this gives comprehensive coverage over your real and potential risks from both an attacker and known vulnerability perspectives. OT attack paths as seen here even leverage insights between the industrial and corporate communications to reveal ways threat actors may take advantage of IT-OT convergence. This revelation of imperceptible risks fills gaps in traditional risk analysis like remote access and insider threats.

Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 1: Darktrace/OT visualizing the most critical attack paths at an organization
Figure 2: A specific Attack Path identified by Darktrace/OT

Risk Prioritization

Darktrace/OT prioritizes remediations and mitigations based on difficulty and damage to your unique organization, using the established Attack Paths.

We ascertain the priorities that apply to your organization beyond pure theoretical damage answering questions like:

  • How difficult is a particular vulnerability to exploit considering the steps an attacker would require to reach it?
  • And, how significant would the impact be if it was exploited within this particular network?

This expanded approach to risk prioritization has a much more comprehensive evaluation of your organization's unique risk than has ever been possible before. Traditional approaches of ranking only known vulnerabilities with isolated scores using CVSS and exploitability metrics, often leaves gaps in IT-OT risks and is blind to legitimate service exploitation.

Figure 3: Darktrace/OT leverages its contextual understand of the organization’s network to prioritize remediation that will have the positive impact on the risk score

Darktrace provides mitigation strategies associated with each identified risk and the relevant impact it has on your overall risk posture, across all MITRE ATT&CK techniques.

What sets Darktrace apart is our ability to contextualize these mitigations within the broader business. When patching vulnerabilities directly isn’t possible, Darktrace identifies alternative actions that harden attack paths leading to critical assets. Hardening the surrounding attack path increases the difficulty and therefore reduces the likelihood and impact of a breach.

That means unpatched vulnerabilities and vulnerable devices aren’t left unprotected. This also has an added bonus, those hardening techniques work for all devices in that network segment, so apply one change, secure many.

Figure 4: Darktrace prioritizes mitigation reducing accessibility of vulnerability and the overall risk score when patches aren’t available

Communicate Board Level Risk with APT Threat Mapping

Darktrace/OT bridges theory and practice as the only security solution that maps MITRE techniques, frequently used by APT Groups, onto AI-assessed critical Attack Paths. This unique solution provides unparalleled insights including sector and location intelligence, possible operating platforms, common techniques, exploited CVEs, and the number of potential devices affected in your environment, supporting holistic risk assessment and proactive defense measures.

Ultimately, this becomes a power dashboard to communicate board level risk, using both metric based evidence and industry standard threat mapping.

Schlussfolgerung

Darktrace/OT is part of the Darktrace ActiveAI Security Platform a native, holistic, AI-driven platform built on over ten years of AI research. It helps security teams shift to more a productive mode, finding the known and the unknown attacks and transforming the SOC with the various Darktrace products to drive efficiency gains. It does this across the whole incident lifecycle to lower risk, reduce time spent on active incidents, and drive return on investment.

Discover more about Darktrace's ever-strengthening platform with the upcoming changes coming to our Darktrace/Email product and other launch day blogs.

Join Darktrace LIVE half-day event to understand the reality versus the hype surrounding AI and how to achieve cyber resilience.

Learn about the intersection of cyber and AI by downloading the State of AI Cyber Security 2024 report to discover global findings that may surprise you, insights from security leaders, and recommendations for addressing today’s top challenges that you may face, too.  

References

1. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/313646831/Catch_Me_if_You_Can.pdf

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Mitchell Bezzina
VP, Product and Solutions Marketing
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