Attacks/Breaches

5/12/2017
03:01 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

New Malware Uses GeoCities, North Korea Interest to Trick Victims

A new threat called Baijiu leverages the GeoCities web service, and heightened interest in North Korea, to deceive victims.

Researchers at Cylance have discovered a new advanced threat, dubbed Baijiu, which uses heightened interest in North Korea and the GeoCities web service to prey on victims.

Baijiu abuses global concern about the humanitarian situation in North Korea, specifically with respect to the flooding related to last year's Typhoon Lionrock. Victims click a malicious file with the expectation they will learn more about how the situation unfolded, which was largely hidden from the world.

The ultimate goal of this attack is to deploy a set of espionage tools through a downloader called Typhoon and set of backdoors called Lionrock. These are likely used to siphon data from victims, explains Kevin Livelli, Cylance director of threat intelligence.

Cylance researchers hunting new and existing threats discovered elements of this attack had been uploaded to VirusTotal and weren't being detected by most solutions, Livelli says. The North Korea reference initially caught their attention, but several other factors set Baijiu apart.

"It was a more complex piece of malware than we typically see," he continues. "It took a rather circuitous route from the phishing attempt, all the way to the backdoor."

Along the way, Baijiu takes several steps to hide itself, which Cylance reports has helped it evade antimalware precautions. Researchers speculate this is also an attempt to throw off researchers and investigators who might be following it.

Livelli was most interested in the appropriation of Geocities to deliver Baijiu malware. The web hosting service, popular in the 1990s, is currently owned by Yahoo and based in Japan. It's free to use, has high bandwidth, and doesn't require user identification beyond a Yahoo email address.

"The same things that make it appealing to ordinary citizens are making it appealing to hackers," he says, noting the anonymity GeoCities grants its users.

Baijiu isn’t the only threat using GeoCities as a launching pad for malware. The service was also used in March 2017 for targeted attacks to deliver "Poison Ivy," which has been associated with Chinese APT groups. GeoCities is increasingly being used by advanced adversaries, says Livelli, and researchers found at least 10 other examples of attacks using it.

Cylance has not conducted an analysis of Baijiu targets. Livelli says it's likely widespread, though the company did not discover specific geographies or organizations are at risk. It also cannot attribute a specific cybercriminal or cybercriminals to the threat.

"Given the technical complexity of this attack and certain features in the way it's coded, we can say it's a sophisticated attacker that's employing this malware," Livelli says.

Cylance cannot definitively attribute a specific actor(s) to Baijiu, he continues. Researchers discovered Baijiu shares code similarities with the Egobot codebase, as described by Symantec, and the broader Darkhotel Operation, as discovered by Kaspersky.

Egobot was used in campaigns targeting Korean interests, and Darkhotel's operators were based in Japan, Taiwan, and China. This could hint at the origin for Baijiu; however, Cylance can't say with certainty because it only analyzed one specific piece of malware and not a broader campaign.

"It's one window into a larger campaign that probably has connections," he says. Given that Baijiu shares commonalities with other previously discovered cyberattacks, there may be other lures that could give a better idea of who the attackers are and what they seek.

Related Content

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Malware Incidents Hit 100% of Businesses
Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/17/2017
3 Ways to Retain Security Operations Staff
Oliver Rochford, Vice President of Security Evangelism at DFLabs,  11/20/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Managing Cyber-Risk
An online breach could have a huge impact on your organization. Here are some strategies for measuring and managing that risk.
Flash Poll
The State of Ransomware
The State of Ransomware
Ransomware has become one of the most prevalent new cybersecurity threats faced by today's enterprises. This new report from Dark Reading includes feedback from IT and IT security professionals about their organization's ransomware experiences, defense plans, and malware challenges. Find out what they had to say!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.