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.

Perimeter

7/3/2019
01:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Sodin Ransomware Exploits Windows Privilege Escalation Bug

Exploitation of CVE-2018-8453 grants attackers the highest level of privileges on a target system.

In a world where ransomware runs rampant, Sodin stands out. The newly discovered malware exploits Windows vulnerability CVE-2018-8453 to elevate privileges — a rarity for ransomware.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have been watching Sodin, also known as Sodinokibi and REvil, since they spotted it in April. Sodin captured their attention because it exploits Windows privilege escalation vulnerability CVE-2018-8453, says senior malware analyst Fedor Sinitsyn.

CVE-2018-8453, also discovered by the Kaspersky Lab team, was under active attack when Microsoft released a patch back in October. Researchers saw FruityArmor APT using the vulnerability in a small number of targeted attacks, primarily against victims in the Middle East. The exploit was packaged into a malware installer, which required system privileges to install a payload that would grant the attackers persistent access onto victims' machines, they reported.

Now researchers have spotted the same vulnerability in Sodin, which they say is a rarity for ransomware. Statistics show detections across Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa, though they point out most are in Asia-Pacific — specifically Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Sinitsyn says researchers did not notice a pattern among industries or organizations targeted.

Each Sodin sample has an encrypted configuration block with the settings it needs to work. After launch, it checks the configuration block to verify whether the option to use the exploit is enabled, Sinitsyn explains. If it is, Sodin checks the architecture of the CPU it's running on and passes execution to one of the two variants of shellcode contained inside the Trojan's body.

"The shellcode will then attempt to call a specific sequence of WinAPI functions with malicious crafted arguments in order to trigger the vulnerability," Sinitsyn says. "As a result, the running Trojan's process gains the highest privileges in the system. The goal here is to make it harder for security solutions to counteract this malware."

Sodin uses a hybrid scheme to encrypt victim files. Its implementation of cryptographic operations is quite sophisticated, he adds. The ransomware employs a combination of asymmetric elliptic curve cryptography and a modern symmetric stream cipher.

"Overall, this Trojan leaves the impression that the criminals behind its development know what they are doing," he continues.

Adding to the attackers' sophistication is their use of Heaven's Gate, a technique that allows the Trojan's 32-bit process to execute pieces of 64-bit code. Many debuggers don't support this architecture switch; as a result, it's difficult for researchers to analyze the malware. Further, says Sinitsyn, Heaven's Gate may impede detection for some security tools or analysis systems.

Heaven's Gate has been seen in different types of malware, including coin miners, but this is the first time Kaspersky Lab researchers saw the technique used in a ransomware campaign.

Sodin is designed as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), meaning operators can choose the way it spreads, and Sinitsyn anticipates this scheme will allow attackers to continue distributing the ransomware across channels. "It is already propagating to vulnerable servers via vulnerable server software as well as to endpoints via malvertising and exploit kits," he says.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-13640
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
In qBittorrent before 4.1.7, the function Application::runExternalProgram() located in app/application.cpp allows command injection via shell metacharacters in the torrent name parameter or current tracker parameter, as demonstrated by remote command execution via a crafted name within an RSS feed.
CVE-2019-5222
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
There is an information disclosure vulnerability on Secure Input of certain Huawei smartphones in Versions earlier than Tony-AL00B 9.1.0.216(C00E214R2P1). The Secure Input does not properly limit certain system privilege. An attacker tricks the user to install a malicious application and successful ...
CVE-2019-1919
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
A vulnerability in the Cisco FindIT Network Management Software virtual machine (VM) images could allow an unauthenticated, local attacker who has access to the VM console to log in to the device with a static account that has root privileges. The vulnerability is due to the presence of an account w...
CVE-2019-1920
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
A vulnerability in the 802.11r Fast Transition (FT) implementation for Cisco IOS Access Points (APs) Software could allow an unauthenticated, adjacent attacker to cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on an affected interface. The vulnerability is due to a lack of complete error handling conditi...
CVE-2019-1923
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-17
A vulnerability in Cisco Small Business SPA500 Series IP Phones could allow a physically proximate attacker to execute arbitrary commands on the device. The vulnerability is due to improper input validation in the device configuration interface. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by access...