Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

ABTV

11/21/2019
10:30 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

Phoenix Keylogger Rises & Steals Information

Keylogger first emerged in July 2019, and is packed with myriad information-stealing features.

Security firm Cybereason's Nocturnus team has been trackinga new keylogger, called Phoenix, that is "gaining traction" among cybercriminals. This keylogger first emerged in July 2019, and was seen by the team to be packed with myriad information-stealing features. These features extend beyond solely logging keystrokes, to the point where they are classifying it as an infostealer.

Phoenix is sold to malware actors as a service (MaaS), which makes it simple to deploy. On underground forums, it has been sold for $14.99-$25 per month by a community member with the handle Illusion. It has already targeted victims across North America, the UK, France, Germany and other parts of Europe and the Middle East.

The malware can steal personal data from almost 20 different browsers, four different mail clients, FTP clients and chat clients. While Phoenix offers common SMTP and FTP exfiltration protocols, it also supports data exfiltration over the Telegram app.

The majority of Phoenix infections that have been observed by Cybereason come from phishing attempts that leverage a weaponized rich text file (RTF) or Microsoft Office document. Most commonly, they exploit the Equation Editor vulnerability (CVE-2017-11882). Since Illusion rents the malware only as a stub, the threat actor has to deliver it by their own means.

After infection, Phoenix profiles the victim machine to gather information on the operating system, hardware, running processes, users and its external IP. To increase the stealth of the attack, Phoenix stores the information in memory and sends it back to the attackers directly without writing it to disk.

It then checks to see if it is running in a "hostile" environment such as a virtual machine, debugger, or on a machine with analysis tools or antivirus products installed. Phoenix has a set of features that will disable different Windows tools within the admin panel. It can disable CMD, the registry, task manager, system restore and others.

The anti-AV module tries to terminate the process of a vast number of security products that may be active.

\r\n\r\nOnce it feels safe, it gets down to its dirty business.

Phoenix attempts to steal information stored locally on the target machine by searching for specific files or registry keys that contain sensitive information. It searches browsers, mail clients, FTP clients and chat clients.

The browsers affected include Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, Blisk, Epic, Avast browser, SRware Iron, Comodo, Torch, Slimjet, UC browser, Orbitum, Coc Coc, QQ Browser, 360 Browser and Liebao. Mail clients Outlook, Thunderbird, Seamonkey and Foxmail are also scanned.

Phoenix uses a common method of hooking keyboard events for its keylogging. It uses a Windows API function SetWindowsHookExA to map the pressed keys, then matches them to the corresponding process.

Phoenix does not seem to use a standard, interactive C2 model. It doesn't expect to receive commands back from the C2 server. Phoenix's various tasks like infostealing, downloading additional malware and spreading via USB are predefined by the operators in the configuration file before compilation.

Phoenix shows that malware authors are starting to use many of the same methodologies as legitimate software-as-a-service businesses, including marketing their software, personalized customer support, as well as an easy user interface so they may profit off of other, less technical cybercriminals.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/25/2020
9 Tips to Prepare for the Future of Cloud & Network Security
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  9/28/2020
Attacker Dwell Time: Ransomware's Most Important Metric
Ricardo Villadiego, Founder and CEO of Lumu,  9/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20902
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-01
Upgrading Crowd via XML Data Transfer can reactivate a disabled user from OpenLDAP. The affected versions are from before version 3.4.6 and from 3.5.0 before 3.5.1.
CVE-2019-20903
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-01
The hyperlinks functionality in atlaskit/editor-core in before version 113.1.5 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary HTML or JavaScript via a Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in link targets.
CVE-2020-25288
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
An issue was discovered in MantisBT before 2.24.3. When editing an Issue in a Project where a Custom Field with a crafted Regular Expression property is used, improper escaping of the corresponding form input's pattern attribute allows HTML injection and, if CSP settings permit, execution of arbitra...
CVE-2020-25781
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
An issue was discovered in file_download.php in MantisBT before 2.24.3. Users without access to view private issue notes are able to download the (supposedly private) attachments linked to these notes by accessing the corresponding file download URL directly.
CVE-2020-25830
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-30
An issue was discovered in MantisBT before 2.24.3. Improper escaping of a custom field's name allows an attacker to inject HTML and, if CSP settings permit, achieve execution of arbitrary JavaScript when attempting to update said custom field via bug_actiongroup_page.php.