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

5/7/2018
05:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

SynAck Ransomware Gets Dangerous 'Doppleganging' Feature

New Process Doppelganging, obfuscation features makes the malware much harder to spot and stop.

The authors of the SynAck ransomware family appear to have found a way to make the malware considerably more dangerous for enterprises.

Kaspersky Lab this week reported discovering a new version of SynAck that uses a very sophisticated technique called Process Doppelganging to try and evade anti-malware tools. In an advisory this week, Kaspersky Lab researchers said they have observed the new variant being used in limited but highly targeted attacks against organizations in the United States, Germany, Kuwait and Iran.

"Enterprises should be aware that threat actors [have] switched to targeted attacks with ransomware," says Anton Ivanov, lead malware analyst, Kaspersky Lab. "Threat actors are beginning to use custom made ransomware with complicated techniques to bypass security solutions," Ivanov says. 

The authors of the new SynAck version have been using a combination of remote desktop protocol brute-force attacks and manual downloads to install the malware on vulnerable systems. The ransomware is designed to encrypt office documents, multimedia files, and database files.

Ransom amounts associated with the new variant have tended to average $3,000, which is a somewhat modest amount considering the sophistication behind the malware and the targeted nature of the campaign. That suggests that the threat actor behind the new SynAck is hoping to make money through volume infections rather than by attempting to extort large sums of money from a small number of victims.

The SynAck version is the first ransomware sample to use the Doppelganging Process, which basically involves a way to run malicious code in the guise of a harmless and legitimate Windows process. Security vendor enSilo demonstrated the technique at Black Hat Europe 2017 last December.

enSilo has described Process Doppelganging as a fileless evasion technique for bypassing real-time file scanning by most AV software and next generation AV tools for all versions of Windows since Windows Vista. Unlike malware that has to be written to disk or run completely from memory, with Process Doppelganging, threat actors can build malware that can run from what appears to be a completely legitimate-looking file.

"By manipulating how Windows handles file transactions, attackers can pass off malicious actions as harmless, legitimate processes, even if they are using known malicious code," Kaspersky Lab security researchers said in their advisory. The technique allows attackers to run malicious code without leaving any trace behind, making intrusions extremely hard to detect.

Doppelganging is not the only feature that sets the new SynAck variant apart from other ransomware tools.

Other notable features of the variant include the manner in which the malware obfuscates its executable code before compilation. Instead of using a custom packer to protect the malware code, the new SynAck version obfuscates the executable before compilation, thereby making it significantly harder for security researchers to reverse-engineer the code.

SynAck's latest version also can detect whether it's being launched from an automated sandbox: if so, it will promptly exit the sandbox. Before it actually begins to encrypt files, SynAck also checks the hashes of all processes that are running on the compromised machine, and tries to kill any processes that match a list of processes hard-coded into the malware.

Processes that SynAck is designed to kill include virtual machines, database applications, backup systems, and gaming applications in what appears to be a bid to make it easier to seize high-value files which may otherwise be tied to a running process, Kaspersky Lab said in its report.

Related Content:

 

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
Commentary
How SolarWinds Busted Up Our Assumptions About Code Signing
Dr. Jethro Beekman, Technical Director,  3/3/2021
News
'ObliqueRAT' Now Hides Behind Images on Compromised Websites
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  3/2/2021
News
Attackers Turn Struggling Software Projects Into Trojan Horses
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/26/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: George has not accepted that the technology age has come to an end.
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-2009-20001
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in MantisBT before 2.24.5. It associates a unique cookie string with each user. This string is not reset upon logout (i.e., the user session is still considered valid and active), allowing an attacker who somehow gained access to a user's cookie to login as them.
CVE-2020-28466
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
This affects all versions of package github.com/nats-io/nats-server/server. Untrusted accounts are able to crash the server using configs that represent a service export/import cycles. Disclaimer from the maintainers: Running a NATS service which is exposed to untrusted users presents a heightened r...
CVE-2021-27364
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. drivers/scsi/scsi_transport_iscsi.c is adversely affected by the ability of an unprivileged user to craft Netlink messages.
CVE-2021-27365
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. Certain iSCSI data structures do not have appropriate length constraints or checks, and can exceed the PAGE_SIZE value. An unprivileged user can send a Netlink message that is associated with iSCSI, and has a length up to the maximum length...
CVE-2021-27363
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-07
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel through 5.11.3. A kernel pointer leak can be used to determine the address of the iscsi_transport structure. When an iSCSI transport is registered with the iSCSI subsystem, the transport's handle is available to unprivileged users via the sysfs file system...