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Mysterious Malware Uses Wi-Fi Scanning to Get Location of Infected Device

Mysterious Whiffy Recon malware scans for nearby Wi-Fi access points to obtain the location of the infected device.

Researchers at Secureworks have come across a mysterious piece of malware that scans for nearby Wi-Fi access points in an effort to obtain the location of the infected device.

The malware, dubbed Whiffy Recon, targets Windows systems and is designed to conduct Wi-Fi scanning every 60 seconds. The collected data is fed to a geolocation API from Google, which returns geographic coordinates by triangulating the location based on Wi-Fi access point and mobile network data. 

Whiffy Recon is delivered by the widely used Smoke Loader malware downloader, but it’s unclear what it’s used for. Secureworks noted that threat actors could use the data to track compromised systems, potentially using it to intimidate victims or pressure them into complying with their demands. 

“What is concerning about our discovery of Whiffy Recon is the motivation for its operation is unclear. Who, or what, is interested in the actual location of an infected device? The regularity of the scan at every 60 seconds is unusual, why update every minute? With this type of data a threat actor could form a picture of the geolocation of a device, mapping the digital to the physical,” Don Smith, VP of threat intelligence at Secureworks’ Counter Threat Unit (CTU), told SecurityWeek. 

“This kind of activity is very rarely used by criminal actors,” Smith added. “As a standalone capability it lacks the ability to quickly monetize. The unknowns here are worrying and the reality is that it could be used to support any number of nefarious motivations.”

Organizations or individuals concerned that their systems may have been infected with Whiffy Recon can check the Startup folder in Windows for a file named ‘wlan.lnk’, which is used for persistence, ensuring that the malware is launched whenever the device boots up.

Removing the file from the Startup folder ensures that the malware will no longer run on startup, but there is no way to know how much location data has already been collected, Smith added. 

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Secureworks has published technical details on the malware, as well as additional indicators of compromise (IoCs).

Related: Researchers Uncover Real Identity of CypherRAT and CraxsRAT Malware Developer

Related: New ‘Domino’ Malware Linked to FIN7 Group, Ex-Conti Members

Related: Black Hat Hacker Exposes Real Identity After Infecting Own Computer With Malware

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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