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

Zero day distributing FINSPY espionage malware and LATENTBOT malware

Tue 18 Apr 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

FireEye recently identified a vulnerability – CVE-2017-0199 – that allows a malicious actor to download and execute a Visual Basic script containing PowerShell commands when a user opens a Microsoft Office RTF document containing an embedded exploit. We worked with Microsoft and published the technical details of this vulnerability as soon as a patch was made available.

In this follow-up post, we discuss some of the campaigns we observed leveraging the CVE-2017-0199 zero-day in the days, weeks and months leading up to the patch being released.

CVE-2017-0199 used by multiple actors

FireEye assesses with moderate confidence that CVE-2017-0199 was leveraged by financially motivated and nation-state actors prior to its disclosure. Actors leveraging FINSPY and LATENTBOT used the zero-day as early as January and March, and similarities between their implementations suggest they obtained exploit code from a shared source. Recent DRIDEX activity began following a disclosure on April 7, 2017.

FINSPY malware used to target russian-speaking victims

As early as Jan. 25, 2017, lure documents referencing a Russian Ministry of Defense decree and a manual allegedly published in the "Donetsk People's Republic" exploited CVE-2017-0199 to deliver FINSPY payloads. Though we have not identified the targets, FINSPY is sold by Gamma Group to multiple nation-state clients, and we assess with moderate confidence that it was being used along with the zero-day to carry out cyber espionage.

The malicious document, СПУТНИК РАЗВЕДЧИКА.doc (MD5: c10dabb05a38edd8a9a0ddda1c9af10e), is a weaponized version of a widely available military training manual. Notably, this version purports to have been published in the “Donetsk People's Republic,” the name given to territory controlled by anti-Kyiv rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

The initial malicious document downloaded further payloads, including malware and a decoy document from 95.141.38.110. This site was open indexed to allow recovery of additional lure content, including prikaz.doc (MD5: 0F2B7068ABFF00D01CA7E64589E5AFD9), which claims to be a Russian Ministry of Defense decree approving a forest management plan.

Per a 2015 report from CitizenLab, Gamma Group licenses their software to clients and each client uses unique infrastructure, making it likely that the two documents are being used by a single client.

FINSPY malware is sold by Gamma Group, an Anglo-German “lawful intercept” company. Gamma Group works on behalf of numerous nation-state clients, limiting insight into the ultimate sponsor of the activity. The FINSPY malware was heavily obfuscated, preventing the extraction of command and control (C2) information.

CVE-2017-0199 used to distribute LATENTBOT

As early as March 4, 2017, malicious documents exploiting CVE-2017-0199 were used to deliver the LATENTBOT malware. The malware, which includes credential theft capability, has thus far only been observed by FireEye iSIGHT Intelligence in financially motivated threat activity. Additionally, generic lures used in this most recent campaign are consistent with methods employed by financially motivated actors.

LATENTBOT is a modular and highly obfuscated type of malware first discovered by FireEye iSIGHT intelligence in December 2015. It is capable of a variety of functions, including credential theft, hard drive and data wiping, disabling security software, and remote desktop functionality. Recently, we observed LATENTBOT campaigns using Microsoft Word Intruder (MWI).

The lure documents distributing LATENTBOT malware used generic social engineering. The documents that were used are shown in Table 1, and all used 217.12.203.90 as a C2 domain.

On April 10, the actors altered their infrastructure to deliver TERDOT payloads instead of LATENTBOT. This TERDOT payload (MD5: e3b600a59eea9b2ea7a0d4e3c45074da) beacons to http://185.77.129.103/SBz1efFx/gt45gh.php, then downloads a Tor client and beacons to sudoofk3wgl2gmxm.onion.

FINSPY and LATENTBOT samples share origin

Shared artifacts in the FINSPY and LATENTBOT samples suggest the same builder was used to create both, indicating the zero-day exploit was supplied to both criminal and cyber espionage operations from the same source.

Malicious documents used in both campaigns share a last revision time of: 2016-11-27 22:42:00 (Figure 2).

DRIDEX spam follows recent disclosure

Following a disclosure of specifics related to the zero-day on April 7, 2017, the vulnerability was used in DRIDEX spam campaigns, which continue as of the publication of this blog. We cannot confirm the mechanism through which the actors obtained the exploit. These actors may have leveraged knowledge of the vulnerability gained through the disclosure, or been given access to it when it became clear that patching was imminent.

A spam wave was sent out on April 10, 2017, leveraging a “Scan Data” lure. The attached document leveraged CVE-2017-0199 to install DRIDEX on the victim’s computer.

Outlook and implications

Though only one FINSPY user has been observed leveraging this zero-day exploit, the historic scope of FINSPY, a capability used by several nation states, suggests other customers had access to it. Additionally, this incident exposes the global nature of cyber threats and the value of worldwide perspective – a cyber espionage incident targeting Russians can provide an opportunity to learn about and interdict crime against English speakers elsewhere.

Article by Ben Read and Jonathan Leathery, FireEye Threat Research.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
ABI Research
75% of 5G networks to advance to 5G-Advanced by 2030 
5G-advanced is set to launch in 2025, and 75% of 5G networks will upgrade by 2030, according to ABI Research. 
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
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
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
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
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
Remote Working
RDP attacks on the rise, Kaspersky experts offer advice
"Given that remote work is here to stay, we urge companies to seriously look into securing their remote and hybrid workforce to protect their data."
Story image
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
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
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
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
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
Training
Barracuda customises training to fit ACSC Essential Eight
Barracuda has announced that its Security Awareness Training now provides a customised training curriculum in line with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential Eight.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
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
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.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Document Management
NZ's FileInvite raises $10M in latest investment round
FileInvite has raised $10 million in Series A investment to fast-forward the extinction of email for requesting and collecting documents online.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
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
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
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
SaaS
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's 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
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
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
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. 
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
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
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
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
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.