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.

Threat Intelligence

DanaBot Malware Adds Spam to its Menu

A new generation of modular malware increases its value to criminals.

Malware authors adding to the capabilities of their malicious software is nothing new. But a recently discovered addition of spam-generation to a banking Trojan package demonstrates how criminals are adding email capabilities to increase ways to both distribute and monetize it.

DanaBot, the malware at the center of the new discovery by ESET and Proofpoint, was first described by Proofpoint researchers in May of this year. It was, at the time, a relatively simple banking Trojan spread by an actor known for purchasing malware from other authors.

But a new campaign has DanaBot distributing a malicious payload related to GootKit, an advanced banking Trojan. It's an example of a criminal actor bringing together modular malware from two criminal organizations that have, in the past, been known for working independently.

"This follows along with a trend that we're seeing it with the actors who, instead of distributing just a straight banking Trojan or ransomware, are distributing full-featured malware," says Christopher Dawson, threat intelligence lead at Proofpoint. "We're seeing lots more Remote Access Trojans being distributed. And you know a RAT being submitted by a financially motivated actor is kind of a big deal."

Dawson says that the financial motivation means that the authors of malware like DanaBot are going to try to maximize the return on their development investment, so they're likely to continue adding features.

DanaBot's new capabilities include harvesting email addresses from a victim's computer and using those addresses for spam messages that seek to spread the malware to systems both on the victim's network and to other, unrelated networks.

The growing trend to use modular design in malware makes it easier for threat actors to add capabilities to existing software for new campaigns. Describing the new DanaBot activity, ESET researchers wrote that "part of DanaBot's configuration has a structure we have previously seen in other malware families, for example Tinba or Zeus. This allows its developers to use similar webinject scripts or even reuse third-party scripts."

What to Do

So what does this shift mean for enterprise security teams? "It's really reinforcing that old message; layered security, robust backups, robust patching regimens. This is the same message over and over," Dawson says. 

While it's hard to maintain multiple systems, endpoint security, edge security, app security and everything else, he says, "it's just it is the nature of the beast that you've got to be able to catch malware at every step."

Dawson says the question of whether it's the work of a criminal organization or a nation-state actor ultimately makes little difference. "While nation-state actors get the bulk of the mass media press, the nature of the threat means that ultimately the victim has something that the attacker wants," he says. "But most of what we see is crimeware. These are are financially motivated actors and they are just doing their best to monetize their efforts."

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... 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-2021-26814
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-06
Wazuh API in Wazuh from 4.0.0 to 4.0.3 allows authenticated users to execute arbitrary code with administrative privileges via /manager/files URI. An authenticated user to the service may exploit incomplete input validation on the /manager/files API to inject arbitrary code within the API service sc...
CVE-2021-27581
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
The Blog module in Kentico CMS 5.5 R2 build 5.5.3996 allows SQL injection via the tagname parameter.
CVE-2021-28042
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
Deutsche Post Mailoptimizer 4.3 before 2020-11-09 allows Directory Traversal via a crafted ZIP archive to the Upload feature or the MO Connect component. This can lead to remote code execution.
CVE-2021-28041
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
ssh-agent in OpenSSH before 8.5 has a double free that may be relevant in a few less-common scenarios, such as unconstrained agent-socket access on a legacy operating system, or the forwarding of an agent to an attacker-controlled host.
CVE-2021-3377
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
The npm package ansi_up converts ANSI escape codes into HTML. In ansi_up v4, ANSI escape codes can be used to create HTML hyperlinks. Due to insufficient URL sanitization, this feature is affected by a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. This issue is fixed in v5.0.0.