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Hide 'N Seek IoT Botnet Can Survive Device Reboots

The Internet of Things (IoT) botnet known as Hide 'N Seek that first emerged in January can now achieve persistence on infected devices, Bitdefender reports.

Discovered toward the end of April, the latest version of the malware also includes code that allows it to target more vulnerabilities and new types of devices, the security firm discovered, adding that it targets 10 different architectures and a broad range of models.

The botnet has so far infected 90,000 unique devices starting in January, and could become a major threat if weaponized.

When first observed in January, the botnet didn’t have a persistence module, meaning it was not able to survive a device reboot. This, however, changed in the last version: if it manages to successfully compromise a device via Telnet, the malware copies itself to /etc/init.d/ and adds itself to startup, so it is executed when the operating system launches.

The malware also abuses web based vulnerabilities to target specific devices like IPTV cameras, but persistence is only achieved if the infection took place via Telnet, because root privileges are required to copy the binary to the init.d directory, Bitdefender Senior E-Threat Analyst Bogdan Botezatu explains.

The malware targets a broad range of devices via the Telnet service. According to Bitdefender, the bot has 10 different binaries compiled for x86, x64, ARM (Little Endian and Big Endian), SuperH, PPC and other platforms.

The latest Hide 'N Seek version can compromise more IPTV camera models by targeting vulnerabilities in Wansview NCS601W IP camera (a cloud-only device) and AVTECH IP Camera, NVR and DVR (the maker’s products have been targeted by other IoT malware as well).

Responding to a SecurityWeek inquiry, Botezatu revealed that the Hide 'N Seek malware targets a long list of weak or default credentials frequently found in IoT devices.

“The list is extremely long and features several camera models, but the hardcoded credentials also target several router models. In addition to specific models, the bot also attempts these credentials against Telnet for all sorts of devices. The fact that it has binaries compiled for 10 platforms and architectures shows that the attacker is aiming at enrolling as many devices, regardless of type, maker, and model,” Botezatu said.

“We've notified vendors about this,” he added.

Over the past three months, Hide 'N Seek has been growing steadily although some devices left the botnet, while others joined it. Most likely, the botnet lost those devices “that could not be exploited in a way to offer persistence,” Botezatu said.

From February to May, however, Bitdefender’s security researchers identified almost 65,000 infected devices.

Botezatu told SecurityWeek that five versions of the botnet have been observed thus far. However, there haven’t been major changes in the list of supported commands compared to the earlier versions, and no support for distributed denial of service (DDoS), the most commonly encountered purpose of IoT botnets, has been added to Hide 'N Seek either.

“Based on the evidence at hand, we presume that this botnet is in the growth phase, as operators are trying to seize as many devices as possible before adding weaponized features to the binary,” Botezatu revealed.

As for the current geographic distribution of the bots, most of them are located in China, with Russia, Brazil, the United States, and Italy rounding up top five, followed by India, Poland, Bulgaria, France, and Republic of Korea.

Related: "Hide 'N Seek" IoT Botnet Ensnares 20,000 Devices in Days

Related: Industrial Internet Consortium Develops New IoT Security Maturity Model

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