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

8/27/2020
03:55 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Old Malware Tool Acquires New Tricks

Latest version of Qbot has acquired a new feature for collecting email threads from Outlook clients.

Qbot, a malware tool that has been tormenting users worldwide since at least 2008, is back at it again, with new features including one for stealing email threads from Outlook clients and using them to try and infect other user systems.

Researchers from Check Point observed the new version of Qbot being delivered via malicious spam emails in early August and targeting nearly 100,000 systems per day worldwide since then. The malware is being used in both targeted attacks and in broader, more opportunistic attacks.

Related Content:

Qbot Mutation Poses Global Threat

Most Cyberattacks in 2019 Were Waged Without Malware

Since first surfacing as a banking Trojan more than a decade ago, Qbot has evolved into a multifaceted malware product. It currently supports the ability to steal passwords, payment card data, and other information from infected systems; to drop other malware including ransomware on those systems; and to make fraudulent banking transactions. Tens of thousands of systems worldwide are infected with older versions of Qbot, making it one of the most widespread malware samples currently, according to Check Point.

The latest version of Qbot features an "email collector module" that extracts email threads from an infected system's Outlook client and uploads them to a remote server. The operators of Qbot are then inserting spam emails containing malware into the stolen threads so recipients are fooled into thinking the spam email is a continuation of an existing conversation and therefore are more likely to click on an attachment or follow a link. In a report Wednesday, Check Point said its researchers had observed hijacked email threads with subjects related to the current pandemic, tax payments, and job recruitments.

In addition to the email-thread-gathering feature, the new Qbot version also has a new virtual network computing (VNC) plug-in that enables the attacker to control a victim's machine via a graphical interface, says Daniel Marx, team leader for Check Point's malware research team. The capability exists in other malware samples, too, so it is not especially groundbreaking, he notes. But it is yet another indication of how Qbot has kept constantly evolving since it first emerged, Marx says.

"What might explain Qbot's longevity is the commitment of the developers to change, try new things, and forgo old techniques," he notes. "As long as a malware is being maintained, it can carry on and on."

Though malware is no longer the primary cause of data breaches at most organizations, it still is among the top attack vectors. Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) showed that 17% of the breaches it investigated last year involved malware. In comparison, 45% featured hacking by an external actor, 22% resulted from errors, and 22% were triggered through social engineering. Twenty-seven percent of the malware-related incidents that Verizon investigated involved ransomware.

The company's analysis showed that organizations have become generally better at blocking most types of malware. For instance, Trojan-type malware accounted for just below 50% of all breaches that Verizon investigated in 2016, compared with barely 6.5% last year. Ironically, with organizations getting better at blocking malware, malicious attackers have increasingly begun employing legitimate admin tools and so-called living-off-the-land tactics in attacks that are much harder to detect and block.

Verizon's 2019 DBIR found that when malware does get into an organization, it usually is via email. It's analysis showed that in fact more than nine in 10 malware infections on 2019 involved email. 

 

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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-29512
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
TensorFlow is an end-to-end open source platform for machine learning. If the `splits` argument of `RaggedBincount` does not specify a valid `SparseTensor`(https://www.tensorflow.org/api_docs/python/tf/sparse/SparseTensor), then an attacker can trigger a heap buffer overflow. This will cause a read ...
CVE-2021-29554
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
TensorFlow is an end-to-end open source platform for machine learning. An attacker can cause a denial of service via a FPE runtime error in `tf.raw_ops.DenseCountSparseOutput`. This is because the implementation(https://github.com/tensorflow/tensorflow/blob/efff014f3b2d8ef6141da30c806faf141297eca1/t...
CVE-2021-32817
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
express-hbs is an Express handlebars template engine. express-hbs mixes pure template data with engine configuration options through the Express render API. More specifically, the layout parameter may trigger file disclosure vulnerabilities in downstream applications. This potential vulnerability is...
CVE-2021-32818
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
haml-coffee is a JavaScript templating solution. haml-coffee mixes pure template data with engine configuration options through the Express render API. More specifically, haml-coffee supports overriding a series of HTML helper functions through its configuration options. A vulnerable application tha...
CVE-2021-32819
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
Squirrelly is a template engine implemented in JavaScript that works out of the box with ExpressJS. Squirrelly mixes pure template data with engine configuration options through the Express render API. By overwriting internal configuration options remote code execution may be triggered in downstream...