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Virus Watch |Stealing from wallets

Roman Unuchek
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 04, 11:06  GMT
Tags: Mobile Malware, Electronic Payments

We’ve written several times about mobile malware that can send text messages to premium numbers or steal money from online bank accounts. We also know that cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways of stealing money using mobile Trojans. So our recent discovery of Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Waller.a highlighted a new get-rich technique that not only sent a premium SMS but also saw the malware attempt to steal money from a QIWI electronic wallet.

After Trojan-SMS.AndroidOS.Waller.a launches, it contacts its C&C server and awaits further commands.

Request to the C&C


It's been a while since the last massive Internet outage took down Syria’s backbone network (AS29386). More recently, however, Syria suffered yet another large-scale Internet black out that lasted for about seven hours. In contrast to previous incidents, where networking routes began to disappear gradually from border routing devices, this time a cut off fiber optic cable was deemed responsible for leaving most of the country off-line.

Given the complexity of the current political situation, there are many different factors which could be involved in this event, but from the outside these are all largely speculative. Pro-government groups will talk about sabotage and opposition activists will talk about censorship. Here, we'll only focus on malware and the facts that have been found during the analysis, presenting only relevant information in the hope of setting a clear context for this research.

Virus Watch |Caution: Malware pre-installed!

Dong Yan
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 31, 09:03  GMT
Tags: Mobile Malware, Google Android

China’s leading TV station, CCTV, has a long-standing tradition of marking World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 with its ‘315 Evening Party’. The annual show makes a song and dance about consumer rights violations. This year’s party reported on cases where smartphone distribution channels pre-install malware into Android mobiles before selling them on to unwitting customers.

As the program showed, the malware pre-installed is called DataService:

Virus Watch |Agent.btz: a source of inspiration?

Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 12, 15:01  GMT
Tags: Botnets, Targeted Attacks, Cyber espionage

The past few days has seen an extensive discussion within the IT security industry about a cyberespionage campaign called Turla, aka Snake and Uroburos, which, according to G-DATA experts, may have been created by Russian special services.

One of the main conclusions also pointed out by research from BAE SYSTEMS, is a connection between the authors of Turla and those of another malicious program, known as Agent.BTZ, which infected the local networks of US military operations in the Middle East in 2008.

We first became aware of this targeted campaign in March 2013. This became apparent when we investigated an incident which involved a highly sophisticated rootkit. We called it the ‘Sun rootkit’, based on a filename used as a virtual file system: sunstore.dmp, also accessible as \\.\Sundrive1 and \\.\Sundrive2. The ‘Sun rootkit’ and Uroburos are the same.

We are still actively investigating Turla, and we believe it is far more complex and versatile than the already published materials suggest.

At this point, I would like to discuss the connection between Turla and Agent.btz in a little more detail.

Agent.btz: a global epidemic or a targeted attack?

The story of Agent.btz began back in 2007 and was extensively covered by the mass media in late 2008 when it was used to infect US military networks.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it: “The 2008 cyberattack on the United States was the ‘worst breach of U.S. military computers in history’. The defense against the attack was named ‘Operation Buckshot Yankee’. It led to the creation of the United States Cyber Command.

It started when a USB flash drive infected by a foreign intelligence agency was left in the parking lot of a Department of Defense facility at a base in the Middle East. It contained malicious code and was put into a USB port from a laptop computer that was attached to United States Central Command.

The Pentagon spent nearly 14 months cleaning the worm, named Agent.btz, from military networks. Agent.btz, a variant of the SillyFDC worm, has the ability ‘to scan computers for data, open backdoors, and send through those backdoors to a remote command and control server’.”

We do not know how accurate is the story with the USB flash drive left in the parking lot. We have also heard a number of other versions of this story, which may, or may not be right. However, the important fact here is that Agent.btz was a self replicating computer worm, not just a Trojan. Another important fact is that the malware has dozens of different variants.

We believe that the initial variants of the worm were created back in 2007. By 2011 a large number of its modifications had been detected. Today, most variants are detected by Kaspersky products as Worm.Win32.Orbina.

Curiously, in accordance with the naming convention used by PC Tools, the worm is also named Voronezh.1600 – possibly a reference to the mythical Voronezh school of hackers, in Russia.

In any event, it is quite obvious that the US military were not the only victims of the worm. Copying itself from one USB flash drive to another, it rapidly spread globally. Although no new variants of the malware have been created for several years and the vulnerability enabling the worm to launch from USB flash drives using “autorun.inf” have long since been closed in newer versions of Windows, according to our data Agent.btz was detected 13,832 times in 107 countries across the globe in 2013 alone!

The dynamics of the worm’s epidemic are also worth noting. Over three years – from 2011 to 2013 – the number of infections caused by Agent.btz steadily declined; however, the top 10 affected countries changed very little.

Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2011
1 Russian Federation 24111
2 Spain 9423
3 Italy 5560
4 Kazakhstan 4412
5 Germany 3186
6 Poland 3068
7 Latvia 2805
8 Lithuania 2016
9 United Kingdom 761
10 Ukraine 629
  Total countries 147
  Total users 63021

Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2012
1 Russian Federation 11211
2 Spain 5195
3 Italy 3052
4 Germany 2185
5 Kazakhstan 1929
6 Poland 1664
7 Latvia 1282
8 Lithuania 861
9 United Kingdom 335
10 Ukraine 263
  Total countries 130
  Total users 30923

Agent.BTZ detections (unique users) 2013
1 Russian Federation 4566
2 Spain 2687
3 Germany 1261
4 Italy 1067
5 Kazakhstan 868
6 Poland 752
7 Latvia 562
8 Lithuania 458
9 Portugal 157
10 United Kingdom 123
  Total countries 107
  Total users 13832

The statistics presented above are based on the following Kaspersky Anti-Virus verdicts: Worm.Win32.Autorun.j, Worm.Win32.Autorun.bsu, Worm.Win32.Autorun.bve, Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Agent.sxi, Worm.Win32.AutoRun.lqb, Trojan.Win32.Agent.bve, Worm.Win32.Orbina

To summarize the above, the Agent.btz worm has clearly spread all over the world, with Russia leading in terms of the number of infections for several years.

Map of infections caused by different modifications of “Agent.btz” in 2011-2013

For detailed information on the modus operandi of Agent.btz, I recommend reading an excellent report prepared by Sergey Shevchenko from ThreatExpert, back in November 2008.

On infected systems, the worm creates a file named ‘thumb.dd’ on all USB flash drives connected to the computer, using it to store a CAB file containing the following files: “winview.ocx”, “wmcache.nld” and “mswmpdat.tlb”. These files contain information about the infected system and the worm’s activity logs for that system. Essentially, “thumb.dd” is a container for data which is saved on the flash drive, unless it can be sent directly over the Internet to the C&C server.

If such a flash drive is inserted into another computer infected with Orbina, the file “thumb.dd” will be copied to the computer under the name “mssysmgr.ocx”.

Given this functionality and the global scale of the epidemic caused by the worm, we believe that there are tens of thousands of USB flash drives in the world containing files named “thumb.dd” created by Agent.btz at some point in time and containing information about systems infected by the worm.

Red October: a data collector?

Over one year ago, we analyzed dozens of modules used by Red October, an extremely sophisticated cyber espionage operation. While performing the analysis, we noticed that the list of files that a module named “USB Stealer” searches for on USB flash drives connected to infected computers included the names of files created by Agent.btz “mssysmgr.ocx” and “thumb.dd”.

This means that Red October developers were actively looking for data collected several years previously by Agent.btz. All the USB Stealer modules known to us were created in 2010-2011.

Both Red October and Agent.btz were, in all probability, created by Russian-speaking malware writers. One program “knew” about the files created by the other and tried to make use of them. Are these facts sufficient to conclude that there was a direct connection between the developers of the two malicious programs?

I believe they are not.

First and foremost, it should be noted that the fact that the file “thumb.dd” contains data from Agent.btz-infected systems was publicly known. It is not impossible that the developers of Red October, who must have been aware of the large number of infections caused by Agent.btz and of the fact that the worm had infected US military networks, simply tried to take advantage of other people’s work to collect additional data. It should also be remembered that Red October was a tool for highly targeted pinpoint attacks, whereas Agent.btz was a worm, by definition designed to spread uncontrollably and “collect” any data it could access.

Basically, any malware writer could add scanning of USB flash drives for “thumb.dd” files and the theft of those files to their Trojan functionality. Why not steal additional data without too much additional effort? However, decrypting the data stolen requires one other thing – the encryption key.

Agent.btz and Turla/Uroburos

The connection between Turla and Agent.btz is more direct, although not sufficiently so to conclude that the two programs have the same origin.

Turla uses the same file names as Agent.btz – “mswmpdat.tlb”, “winview.ocx” and “wmcache.nld” for its log files stored on infected systems.

All the overlapping file names are presented in the table below:

Agent.btz Red October Turla
Log files thumb.dd thumb.dd  
  winview.ocx   winview.ocx
  mssysmgr.ocx mssysmgr.ocx  
  wmcache.nld   wmcache.nld
  mswmpdat.tlb   mswmpdat.tlb
  fa.tmp   fa.tmp

In addition, Agent.btz and Turla use the same XOR key to encrypt their log files:


The key is not a secret, either: it was discovered and published back in 2008 and anybody who had an interest in the Agent.btz story knew about the key. Is it possible that the developers of Turla decided to use somebody else’s key to encrypt their logs? We are as yet unable to determine at what point in time this particular key was adopted for Turla. It is present in the latest samples (dated 2013-2014), but according to some data the development of Turla began back in 2006 – before the earliest known variant of Agent.btz was created.

Red October and Turla

Now we have determined that Red October “knew” about the file names used by Agent.btz and searched for them. We have also determined that Turla used the same file names and encryption key as Agent.btz.

So what about a possible connection between Red October and Turla? Is there one? Having analyzed all the data at our disposal, we do not see any overlapping between the two projects. They do not “know” about each other, they do not communicate between themselves in any way, they are different in terms of their architecture and the technologies used.

The only thing they really have in common is that the developers of both Rocra and Turla appear to have Russian as their native language.

What about Flame?

Back in 2012, while analyzing Flame and its cousins Gauss and MiniFlame, we noticed some similarities between them and Agent.btz (Orbina). The first thing we noticed was the analogous naming convention applied, with a predominance of use of files with the .ocx extension. Let’s take as an example the name of the main module of Flame – “mssecmgr.ocx”. In Agent.btz a very similar name was used for the log-file container on the infected system – “mssysmgr.ocx”. And in Gauss all modules were in the form of files with names *.ocx.

Feature Flame Gauss
Encryption methods XOR XOR
Using USB as storage Yes (hub001.dat) Yes (.thumbs.db)

The Kurt/Godel module in Gauss contains the following functionality: when a drive contains a '.thumbs.db' file, its contents are read and checked for the magic number 0xEB397F2B. If found, the module creates %commonprogramfiles%\system\wabdat.dat and writes the data to this file, and then deletes the '.thumbs.db' file.

This is a container for data stolen by the 'dskapi' payload.

Besides, MiniFlame (module icsvnt32) also ‘knew’ about the ‘.thumbs.db’ file, and conducted a search for it on USB sticks.

If we recall how our data indicate that the development of both Flame and Gauss started back in 2008, it can’t be ruled out that the developers of these programs were well acquainted with the analysis of Agent.btz and possibly used some ideas taken from it in their development activities.

All together now

The data can be presented in the form of a diagram showing the interrelations among all the analyzed malicious programs:

As can be seen in the diagram, the developers of all three (even four, if we include Gauss) spy programs knew about Agent.btz, i.e., about how it works and what filenames it uses, and used that information either to directly adopt the functionality, ideas and even filename, or attempted to use the results of the work of Agent.btz.

Summarizing all the above, it is possible to regard Agent.btz as a certain starting point in the chain of creation of several different cyber-espionage projects. The well-publicized story of how US military networks were infected could have served as the model for new espionage programs having similar objectives, while its technologies were clearly studied in great detail by all interested parties. Were the people behind all these programs all the same? It’s possible, but the facts can’t prove it.

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Virus Watch |Targeted exploit

Anton Ivanov
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted October 03, 14:00  GMT
Tags: Vulnerabilities and exploits

In September Microsoft published information about a new Internet Explorer vulnerability – CVE-2013-3893. The vulnerability affects IE versions 6 through 11 for platforms from Windows XP through Windows 8.1. Later in September, the company released a patch closing the vulnerability.

Cybercriminals are happy to exploit such vulnerabilities because they are easy to monetize – the Internet Explorer remains popular.

Top 5 browsers according to http://gs.statcounter.com

This type of vulnerability is very dangerous because it allows the execution of arbitrary code on the target system. In late September, we discovered an exploit for the vulnerability, which uses an attack of the Use After Free type against the Internet Explorer’s HTML rendering engine –mshtml.dll.

We have recently discovered that a modification of the exploit was used in targeted attacks against a number of high-profile organizations in Japan.

Targeted attack

The vulnerability is exploited only on those computers which are part of specific subnets of the target organizations’ networks:

Defining subnets in which computers will be attacked

If a computer’s IP address belongs to one of the ranges defined by the cybercriminals, the vulnerability will be exploited after a user visits an infected web page.

The following information is obtained in the first stage of the attack:

  • Operating system version
  • Internet Explorer version
  • Language used by the OS
  • Whether Microsoft Office is installed

The exploit selects the appropriate ROP chain and shellcode based on the data obtained in this stage:

Choice of ROP chain and shellcode

It is worth mentioning that the exploit will not work on those Windows 7 systems which do not have Microsoft Office installed.

Checking OS version and whether Microsoft Office is installed

This is because today’s operating systems include mechanisms that make exploiting vulnerabilities more difficult. One of such mechanisms is ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization). The exploit uses a clever trick to evade the mechanism: it loads a module compiled without ASLR support into the context of the browser process – the hxds.dll library.

Code after executing which hxds.dll is loaded

The library, which is part of the Microsoft Office package, does not support ASLR. It is loaded at known addresses in memory, after which the attackers use the ROP technology to mark the memory containing shellcode as executable.

The following shellcode is executed after the vulnerability has been successfully exploited:

It can be seen in the figure above that the shellcode decrypts its main part using 0x9F as key.

After decryption, the code searches for functions needed to download and launch the payload, finding them by their hashes:

Hashes of the functions used


When the search for the addresses needed is completed, the following activity takes place:

  1. a malicious object named “runrun.exe” is downloaded from the attackers’ server:

Downloading the payload

  1. Since the module downloaded is encrypted, the shellcode reads it from disk and decrypts it using 0x95 as key, after which the decrypted module is launched:

Decrypting the module downloaded

Distribution of the exploit

As mentioned above, the targeted attack used only one modification of the exploit for CVE-2013-3893. At the same time, the total number of modifications discovered to date amounts to 21. Attacks using this exploit have mostly been detected in Taiwan:

We have the following information on the servers from which the exploit’s payload has been downloaded:








A brief analysis of one of the payload’s variants (md5 - 1b03e3de1ef3e7135fbf9d5ce7e7ccf6) has shown that the executable module has encrypted data in its resources:

Encrypted data in the payload’s resources


The executable module extracts the data and converts it to a DLL module:

Extracting encrypted data


The DLL created by converting the data extracted from the payload is written to disk using the following path:
TempPath\tmp.dll (md5 - bf891c72e4c29cfbe533756ea5685314).

The library exports the following functions:

Functions exported by tmp.dll

When the library has been written to disk, it is loaded into the process’s address space and the ishk exported function is called:

Calling the ishk exported function

The library itself performs an injection into another process’s address space.

After launching, the malware communicates to a server in South Korea. The following requests are sent from the infected machine:

Requests sent from the infected machine

Kaspersky Lab detects the payload downloaded as Trojan-Dropper.Win32.Injector.jmli.

We detect the exploit as HEUR:Exploit.Script.Generic. 

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Virus Watch |Malicious PACs and Bitcoins

Fabio Assolini
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted May 17, 13:58  GMT
Tags: Electronic Payments

Now cybercriminals from Brazil are also interested in Bitcoin currency. In order to join the horde of phishers on the lookout for the virtual currency they have applied their best malicious technique: malicious PAC on web attacks, and phishing domains.

The malicious usage of PAC (Proxy Auto-Config) among Brazilian black hats is not something new – we’ve known about it since 2007. Generally, these kind of malicious scripts are used to redirect the victim’s connection to a phishing page of banks, credit cards and so on. We described these attacks in detail here. In 2012 a Russian Trojan banker called Capper also started using the same technique. When it’s used in drive-by-download attacks, it becomes very effective.

After registering the domain java7update.com, Brazilian criminals started attacking several websites, inserting a malicious iframe in some compromised pages:

Virus Watch |Telecom fraud — phishing and Trojans combined

Dong Yan
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted May 13, 07:15  GMT

In China telecom fraud has become an increasingly common crime. Last year there were more than 170,000 telecom fraud cases, causing the loss of over $12.5 billion. The fraudsters usually call their victims and trick them into transferring cash to a criminal gang via an ATM. But recently a new breed of telecom fraud, which combines phishing sites and backdoor Trojans, has emerged.

Last week the police from the Dongcheng sub-branch of Beijing’s Public Security Bureau asked us to help investigate a telecom fraud case. The victim was defrauded of $100,000. After our investigation, the fraudsters’ tactics were laid bare.

So how does the scam work? How was the victim deceived?

First you get a call from a ‘public prosecutor’ saying that you are implicated in a financial crime and you must help with the investigation. Of course, you deny everything, but the ‘public prosecutor’ advises you to check if you are listed in an official database as a suspected criminal. To do this, they tell you to visit the “Supreme Procuratorate’s” website, which is, of course, a phishing site:

Virus Watch |Lock, stock and two smoking Trojans-2

Sergey Golovanov
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted April 22, 16:24  GMT
Tags: Internet Banking, Malware Statistics

It has been three years since we published Lock, stock and two smoking Trojans in our blog. The article describes the first piece of malware designed to attack users of online banking software developed by a company called BIFIT. There are now several malicious programs with similar functionality, including:

  • Trojan-Spy.Win32.Lurk
  • Trojan-Banker.Win32.iBank
  • Trojan-Banker.Win32.Oris
  • Trojan-Spy.Win32.Carberp
  • Trojan-Banker.Win32.BifiBank
  • Trojan-Banker.Win32.BifitAgent

In spite of its functionality no longer being unique, the last program on the list caught our attention.

Words and strings used by Trojan-Banker.Win32.BifitAgent

This particular piece of malware has a number of features that set it apart from other similar programs.

Virus Watch |Military Hardware and Men’s Health

Ben Godwood
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 29, 12:40  GMT
Tags: Targeted Attacks, Spearphishing

Over the last few months we have seen a series of very similar targeted attacks being blocked in our Linux Mail Security Product. In each case the documents used were RTF and the exploit was CVE-2012-0158 (MSCOMCTL.OCX RCE Vulnerability).

The attacks seem to be from the same group and most appear to be sent from Australia or Republic of Korea. The sender IP addresses vary but many are sent via mail.mailftast.com. This domain is registered in China:

liu runxin
No.1,Nanjing Road
Phone:         +86.2164415698
Email Address: lishd2011@163.com

The documents are in three categories:

  1. The first group of documents are related to articles on the Men’s Health website. These are some example filenames:
    How to last longer in bed.doc
    6 Awkward Sex Moments, Defused.doc
    9 ways to have better,hotter,and more memorable sex.doc
    10 Ways to Get More Sex.doc
  2. The second group are military related:
    Stealth Frigate.doc
    The BrahMos Missile.doc
    How DRDO failed India's military.doc
  3. The third set have Cyrillic filenames:
    приоритеты сотрудничества.doc
    Список участников рабочей группы(0603-2013).doc
    Список кадров.doc
    Приглашение МИОМ ТЕЙКОВО 2013.doc

Virus Watch |The end of MSN Messenger, the beginning of attacks

Fabio Assolini
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted March 19, 11:27  GMT
Tags: Instant Messengers, Microsoft

Microsoft recently announced the shutdown of its popular IM client MSN Messenger, which will be replaced by Skype, but its end represents the beginning of malicious attacks posing as the installer of the software. Cybercriminals already started to use this fact in their attacks, registering malicious domains, buying sponsored links on search engines, tricking users to download and install a malware masquerade as the MSN installer.

MSN Messenger is still very popular in several countries; Microsoft informed that the service has more than 100 million users worldwide, approximately 30.5 million of them in Brazil. As an escalated migration of all users is planned, it's getting harder to find the installer of the program and this is the window of opportunity exploited by Brazilian cybercriminals aiming to infect users looking for the software.

In a simple search on Google for "MSN messenger" the first result displayed is sponsored link of a malicious domain aiming to distribute the fake installer, which is actually a Trojan banker: