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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.