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4/4/2019
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Python-Based Bot Scanner Gorging on Recon Intel

Discovered by AT&T Alien Labs, new malware Xwo seeking default creds and misconfigurations in MySQL and MongoDB, among other services

A new Python-based bot scanner is snaking its way through Internet resources, seeking out exposed Web services and default passwords on critical network resources. The information grab doesn't yet appear to be weaponized, but researchers believe it's forboding for administrators of misconfigured databases and servers.

"The general use and potential it holds can be damaging for networks around the globe," warns Tom Hegel of AT&T Alien Labs, which identified the malware his team dubbed Xwo. 

This new malware family looks to have some relation to malware families Xbash and MongoLock. But unlike the coinmining and ransomware capabilities of these previous malicious packages, this one is still laying low with a focus only on reconnaissance at the moment. 

"Both Xwo and MongoLock use similar Python-based code, command and control (C2) domain naming, and have an overlap in C2 infrastructure," Hegel wrote in a blog post on the research. "Unlike MongoLock, Xwo does not have any ransomware or exploitation capabilities, but rather sends stolen credentials and service access back to the C2 infrastructure."

Xwo prods scanned systems to pick up a wide range of information about them. This includes looking for default credentials in FTP, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Redis, Memcached, and Tomcat. It also includes seeking out misconfiguration and other details like default SVN and Git paths, www backup paths, and PhpMyAdmin details.

Even though Xwo backs off of the malicious features in Xbash and MongoLock, AT&T Alien Labs researchers believe that the richness of information being dug up by the new malware indicates attackers are using it as step one in a "advancing capability" that could do a lot of harm to networks worldwide.  

"Since the attackers are collecting information about valid credentials to access systems, they could use this to launch attacks in the future," says Jaime Blasco, chief scientist at AT&T AlienLabs.

"These could include compromising the systems to mine cryptocurrency, install ransomware—(a) likely scenario since we have found a relationship with a previous piece of malware called MongoLock that was likely used by the same threat actors, steal data from those systems, or even sell the credentials in the black market," Blasco says.

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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

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