SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Adwind malware: a 'worrying' trend

By Shannon Williams
Wed 10 Feb 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Almost half a million users globally have been affected by Adwind malware, according to a recent investigation by Kaspersky Lab.

The three-year investigation discovered different versions of the Adwind malware were used in attacks against at least 443,000 private users, commercial and non-commercial organisations around the world.

The research conducted between 2013 and 2016 found the Adwind RAT, a cross-platform, multifunctional malware program, remains active. It is also known as AlienSpy, Frutas, Unrecom, Sockrat, JSocket and jRat, and is distributed through a single malware-as-a-service platform.

At the end of 2015, Kaspersky Lab researchers became aware of an unusual malware program that had been discovered during an attempted targeted attack against a bank in Singapore. A malicious JAR file was attached to a spear-phishing email received by a targeted employee at the bank. The malware’s rich capabilities, including its ability to run on multiple platforms as well as the fact that it was not detected by any antivirus solution, immediately captured the attention of the researchers.

According to the company, it turned out that the organisation had been attacked with the Adwind RAT, a backdoor available for purchase and written entirely in Java, which makes it cross-platform.

It can run on Windows, OS X, Linux and Android platforms providing capabilities for remote desktop control, data gathering, data exfiltration, Kaspersky says.

If the targeted user opens the attached JAR file the malware self-installs and attempts to communicate with the command and control server.

The malware’s list of functions includes the ability to:

  • collect keystrokes
  • steal cached passwords and grab data from web forms
  • take screenshots
  • take pictures and record video from the webcam
  • record sound from the microphone
  • transfer files
  • collect general system and user information
  • steal keys for cryptocurrency wallets
  • manage SMS (for Android)
  • steal VPN certificates

While it is used mainly by opportunistic attackers and distributed in massive spam campaigns, Kaspersky says there are cases where Adwind was used in targeted attacks.

In August 2015 Adwind appeared in news related to cyber-espionage against an Argentinian prosecutor who had been found dead in January 2015. The incident against the Singaporean bank was another example of a targeted attack.

According Kaspersky, a deeper look into events related to the usage of the Adwind RAT showed that these targeted attacks were not the only ones.

Targets of interest

During the investigation, Kaspersky Lab researchers were able to analyse nearly 200 examples of spear-phishing attacks organised by unknown criminals to spread the Adwind malware, and were able to identify the industries in which most of the targets worked:

  • Manufacturing
  • Finance
  • Engineering
  • Design
  • Retail
  • Government
  • Shipping
  • Telecom
  • Software
  • Education
  • Food production
  • Healthcare
  • Media
  • Energy

Based on information from Kaspersky Security Network, the 200 examples of spear-phishing attacks observed in the six months between August 2015 and January 2016 resulted in Adwind RAT malware samples being encountered by more than 68,0000 users.

Based on the profiles of identified targets, Kaspersky Lab researchers believe that the clients of the Adwind platform fall into the following categories:

  • scammers that want to move to the next level (using malware for more advanced fraud)
  • unfair competitors
  • cyber-mercenaries (spies for hire)
  • private individuals that want to spy on people they know.
  • Threat-as-a-Service

One of the main features that distinguishes the Adwind RAT from other commercial malware is that it is distributed openly in the form of a paid service, where the “customer” pays a fee in return for use of the malicious program, Kaspersky explains.

Based on an investigation of users' activity on the internal message board and some other observations, Kaspersky Lab researchers estimate that there were around 1800 users in the system by the end of 2015. This makes it one of the biggest malware platforms in existence today, the company says.

“The Adwind platform in its current state lowers significantly the minimum amount of professional knowledge required by a potential criminal looking to enter the area of cybercrime,” says Aleksandr Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

“What we can say based on our investigation of the attack against the Singaporean bank is that the criminal behind it was far from a professional hacker, and we think that most of the Adwind platform’s “clients” have that level of computer education,” he says.

“That is a worrisome trend.”

Vitaly Kamluk, director of global research and analysis, APAC, Kaspersky Lab says despite multiple reports about different generations of the tool, published by security vendors in recent years, the platform is still active and inhabited with criminals of all kinds. “We’ve conducted this research in order to attract the attention of the security community and law enforcement agencies and to make the necessary steps in order to disrupt it completely,” he says.

Kaspersky Lab has reported its findings on the Adwind platform to law enforcement agencies.

In order to protect yourself and your organisation against this threat, Kaspersky Lab encourages enterprises to review the purpose of using a Java platform and to disable it for all unauthorised sources.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Advent One
Advent One partners with US vulnerability management company
Advent One has partnered with New York based vulnerability management company, Vicarius to accentuate cybersecurity detection and response capabilities
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
SaaS
Varonis strengthens security capabilities for AWS and S3
Varonis has strengthened and expanded its cloud and security capabilities, with a critical aim of improving safety and boosting data visibility in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
10 Minute IT Jams
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Rimini Street
Today we welcome back Daniel Benad, who is the GVP & regional GM for Oceania at Rimini Street.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
INTERPOL
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Attack
Phishing attacks are making a comeback
No matter what approach or tool cybercriminals use to breach a network, they all have one thing in common: access.