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.

Attacks/Breaches

12/19/2017
12:20 PM
Connect Directly
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
Aviation Faces Increasing Cybersecurity Scrutiny
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
Microsoft Tops Phishers' Favorite Brands as Facebook Spikes
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/22/2019
MoviePass Leaves Credit Card Numbers, Personal Data Exposed Online
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/21/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2016-6154
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The authentication applet in Watchguard Fireware 11.11 Operating System has reflected XSS (this can also cause an open redirect).
CVE-2019-5594
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
An Improper Neutralization of Input During Web Page Generation ("Cross-site Scripting") in Fortinet FortiNAC 8.3.0 to 8.3.6 and 8.5.0 admin webUI may allow an unauthenticated attacker to perform a reflected XSS attack via the search field in the webUI.
CVE-2019-6695
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
Lack of root file system integrity checking in Fortinet FortiManager VM application images of all versions below 6.2.1 may allow an attacker to implant third-party programs by recreating the image through specific methods.
CVE-2019-12400
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
In version 2.0.3 Apache Santuario XML Security for Java, a caching mechanism was introduced to speed up creating new XML documents using a static pool of DocumentBuilders. However, if some untrusted code can register a malicious implementation with the thread context class loader first, then this im...
CVE-2019-15092
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-23
The webtoffee "WordPress Users & WooCommerce Customers Import Export" plugin 1.3.0 for WordPress allows CSV injection in the user_url, display_name, first_name, and last_name columns in an exported CSV file created by the WF_CustomerImpExpCsv_Exporter class.