Attacks/Breaches

5/18/2017
12:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NSA Tools Behind WannaCry Being Used In Even Bigger Attack Campaign

Attackers have been using NSAs EternalBlue and Double Pulsar to distribute AdylKuzz cryptocurrency malware to hundreds of thousands of systems, Proofpoint says.

The WannaCry ransomware outbreak this week garnered widespread attention for its sheer global scope and audacity but another likely even bigger attack leveraging the same stolen NSA exploits has been going on unnoticed potentially since the last week of April.

Security vendor Proofpoint Tuesday said it had identified a massive campaign to install Adylkuzz, a crypto-currency mining tool, on hundreds of thousands of systems worldwide.

As with WannaCry, the threat actors behind the Adylkuzz campaign are using the NSA's leaked EternalBlue exploit to target legacy Windows systems running a vulnerable version of the Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

"Upon successful exploitation via EternalBlue, machines are infected with DoublePulsar," which then downloads and runs Adylkuzz from another host system, Proofpoint said in an alert.

Once installed, Adylkuzz blocks all SMB communications on the infected system, looks for and stops any previous instances of itself on the same computer and then downloads a cryptominer and mining instructions.

Adylkuzz is not ransomware. Rather it is a so-called "miner" for Monero, a cryptocurrency that is similar to, but not as widely used as, bitcoin.

Computers infected with Adylkuzz become part of a broad distributed banking network for Monero, says Kevin Epstein vice president of threat operations at Proofpoint. "It is used as part of that network, largely for maintaining accounting or bookkeeping transactions within that network, as well [as for] money supply," he says.

In compensation for the use of the computer, the network typically pays a small fee equivalent to around $205 at current exchange rates to the miner, which in this case would really be the attacker that installed Adylkuzz.

Individual laptops might only generate a few dollars on a weekly basis but the collective payout from all of the infected systems easily tops five-figures daily, Epstein says.

Because no encryption or ransom demands are involved, victims of Adylkuzz do not realize they have been compromised. Degraded PC and server performance and the loss of access to shared Windows resources are often the only indications of a compromise, Epstein says.

Several large organizations that eported experience network performance issues this week were likely victims of the AdylKuzz campaign considering the timing of the incidents and the fact that none of them reported receiving ransomware notices.

"The malware is deliberately stealthy," Epstein says. "Users will only notice their Windows machine is running slowly and that they don't have access to shared Windows resources."

Proofpoint security researchers discovered the Adylkuzz attack while investigating the WannaCry campaign. It found that the attacks are being launched from multiple virtual private servers, which are also being used to massively scan the Internet for other systems to exploit.

Available data suggests that the operators of the Adylkuzz campaign are using multiple command and control servers to manage infected systems and to download cryptominer binaries and instructions for mining, Proofpoint said.

"WannaCry is a very noisy threat. You need to know it is there in order to get you to pay the ransom," says Brian Vecci, technical evangelist at Varonis. "This is different and more dangerous. It does not want you to know it's there," he says.

What attacks like WannaCry and AdylKyzz highlight are just how bad the threat situation has become with the release of the NSA's weaponized exploits. In this case, adversaries used the NSA's EternalBlue and Double Pulsar tools to distribute ransomware and a crypto mining too. But they could use it just as easily to deliver other potentially more lethal payloads, he says.

Related stories:

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... 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 Security Trends for 2018/2019
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/15/2018
6 Reasons Why Employees Violate Security Policies
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer, 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.