Attacks/Breaches

12/19/2017
12:20 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

New Database Botnet Leveraged for Bitcoin Mining

Attackers are quietly building an attack infrastructure using very sensitive machines.

An organized group of cybercriminals is currently targeting database services in a new botnet build-up that's being leveraged for cryptocurrency mining, among other more traditional botnet attack patterns.

Discovered by researchers with GuardiCore Labs, the so-called Hex-Men attacks have been slowly evolving since March and remain ongoing. 

The researchers say there are three main variants - Hex, Hanako, and Tayler - each of which target different SQL servers and have their own unique goals, scale, and target servers. Based on the evidence they've gathered, it appears the attackers are based out of China, with a heavy emphasis on Chinese victims but also plenty of other targets located in Thailand, the US, Japan, and other targets globally.

All three variants are difficult to detect as every machine attacking database servers only targets a few IPs at a time. Victim machines are used as a part of the botnet, but rotated out of use within about a month.

The truly unique part of this attack, says Daniel Goldberg, researcher with GuardiCore and a co-author of the report, is the sensitivity of the machines being targeted. These are production Web servers, MS SQL Servers, ElasticSearch management nodes, MySql services, and so on.

Possibly tens of thousands of servers have been compromised at this point, he says, with all of them being used in the rotation to help build a botnet that's "very different" from the ones you typically hear about these days, which primarily target low-profile IoT devices and sensors.

"In a way it's back to old times of attacking strong, powerful servers and abusing their power," he says. "Every single one of these compromised servers is holding real data. It could be, tomorrow the attackers could decide they want to encrypt all this data, turn it into a ransomware attack. They could steal all of it, they could publish it. But what they're doing right now is using the servers for cryptocurrency mining, and they're using the servers to make their botnet bigger."

The attack can be particularly problematic to block in a complex enterprise environment due to the low-level nature of the attack pattern and the difficulty large organizations have in not only controlling, but even having visibility into, which databases are Internet-facing. 

Today, where everything is in the cloud and you have multiple environments and different data centers, it’s really hard to keep track on what is exposed and what is not," says Ofri Ziv, vice president of research for GuardiCore and co-author of the report today.

"The fact that they are targeting databases is pretty amazing to me and it's something that people need to really, really pay more attention to," he says.

Related Content:

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
WSJ Report: Facebook Breach the Work of Spammers, Not Nation-State Actors
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/19/2018
6 Reasons Why Employees Violate Security Policies
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading,  10/16/2018
NC Water Utility Fights Post-Hurricane Ransomware
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/16/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
The Risk Management Struggle
The Risk Management Struggle
The majority of organizations are struggling to implement a risk-based approach to security even though risk reduction has become the primary metric for measuring the effectiveness of enterprise security strategies. Read the report and get more details today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-10839
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Qemu emulator <= 3.0.0 built with the NE2000 NIC emulation support is vulnerable to an integer overflow, which could lead to buffer overflow issue. It could occur when receiving packets over the network. A user inside guest could use this flaw to crash the Qemu process resulting in DoS.
CVE-2018-13399
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
The Microsoft Windows Installer for Atlassian Fisheye and Crucible before version 4.6.1 allows local attackers to escalate privileges because of weak permissions on the installation directory.
CVE-2018-18381
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Z-BlogPHP 1.5.2.1935 (Zero) has a stored XSS Vulnerability in zb_system/function/c_system_admin.php via the Content-Type header during the uploading of image attachments.
CVE-2018-18382
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
Advanced HRM 1.6 allows Remote Code Execution via PHP code in a .php file to the user/update-user-avatar URI, which can be accessed through an "Update Profile" "Change Picture" (aka user/edit-profile) action.
CVE-2018-18374
PUBLISHED: 2018-10-16
XSS exists in the MetInfo 6.1.2 admin/index.php page via the anyid parameter.