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

7/1/2020
06:20 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail

Chinese Software Company Aisino Uninstalls GoldenSpy Malware

Follow-up sandbox research confirms Aisino knew about the malware in its tax software, though it's still unclear whether it was culpable.



For those who followed the GoldenSpy story last week from Trustwave, where tax software from China-based Aisino was used as a backdoor to gain access to the networks of foreign firms doing business with a Chinese bank, there's an interesting wrinkle.

While doing a routine follow-up investigation in a sandbox after last week's initial disclosure, Trustwave researchers found that after being discovered, Aisino sent software out with one mission in mind: to delete GoldenSpy with an uninstaller and remove any trace it existed.

Brian Hussey, Trustwave's vice president of cyber threat detection and response, says this new development was significant because it confirmed for the research team that Aisino knew about GoldenSpy and was looking to take it down after the initial news came out last week. However, it's unclear whether Aisino was culpable.

"It's a possibility Aisino sent the uninstaller as a way to clean up the issue after seeing the media exposure," Hussey says. "The secret removal is somewhat suspicious, but perhaps their risk mitigation plan decided this was the best possible method."

The new software deleted registry and log entries, all files and folders – including the GoldenSpy log file – and then finally deleted itself with the uninstaller, Hussey says. Aisino sent the uninstaller in two different waves. First, on June 28 the researchers discovered Aisino sent the uninstaller as an AWX.EXE file, but the variables were in plaintext, so it was easy for antivirus software to pick up. Hussey says they must have realized that antivirus software was picking up their activities, so a day later they sent an uninstaller as a BWXT.EXE file. The advantage there was that they sent the variables with Base64 encoding.

"Trustwave can't verify the reason for this change, but we hypothesize that it may have been to evade antivirus," Hussey says. "People have to realize that even though they were uninstalling the GoldenSpy malware, they still can use the tax software as a platform to launch future attacks. What's to say they couldn't wait three to five months after the news about GoldenSpy dies down and strike at a later point?"

Ron Hayman, chief cloud officer at AVANT, says he didn't think Aisino was responsible for injecting the malware on to its tax software.

"I think they launched the uninstaller to cover their tracks," Hayman says. "This case proves that the human element is still important. The level of sophistication the [attackers] had to make changes so quickly wouldn't have been picked up by most standard network security devices."

Trustwave's Hussey says companies with endpoint detection and response (EDR) capabilities should go back and see if there's any evidence that GoldenSpy existed on their network.

"The malware may not be there anymore, but companies really need to run an investigation," he says. "They need to find out if GoldenSpy was used to steal any data or if it created new users."

Related Content:

 

 
 
 
 
Learn from industry experts in a setting that is conducive to interaction and conversation about how to prepare for that "really bad day" in cybersecurity. Click for more information and to register for this On-Demand event. 
 
Steve Zurier has more than 30 years of journalism and publishing experience, most of the last 24 of which were spent covering networking and security technology. Steve is based in Columbia, Md. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Overcoming the Challenge of Shorter Certificate Lifespans
Mike Cooper, Founder & CEO of Revocent,  10/15/2020
7 Tips for Choosing Security Metrics That Matter
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  10/19/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27605
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
BigBlueButton through 2.2.8 uses Ghostscript for processing of uploaded EPS documents, and consequently may be subject to attacks related to a "schwache Sandbox."
CVE-2020-27606
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
BigBlueButton before 2.2.8 (or earlier) does not set the secure flag for the session cookie in an https session, which makes it easier for remote attackers to capture this cookie by intercepting its transmission within an http session.
CVE-2020-27607
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
In BigBlueButton before 2.2.8 (or earlier), the client-side Mute button only signifies that the server should stop accepting audio data from the client. It does not directly configure the client to stop sending audio data to the server, and thus a modified server could store the audio data and/or tr...
CVE-2020-27608
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
In BigBlueButton before 2.2.8 (or earlier), uploaded presentations are sent to clients without a Content-Type header, which allows XSS, as demonstrated by a .png file extension for an HTML document.
CVE-2020-27609
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-21
BigBlueButton through 2.2.8 records a video meeting despite the deactivation of video recording in the user interface. This may result in data storage beyond what is authorized for a specific meeting topic or participant.