A recently discovered backdoor built by the Iron cybercrime group is based on the leaked source code of Remote Control System (RCS), HackingTeam’s infamous surveillance tool, security firm Intezer reports.
The Iron group is known for the Iron ransomware (which a rip-off Maktub malware) and is believed to have been active for around 18 months.
During this time, the cybercriminals built various malware families, including backdoors, crypto-miners, and ransomware, and targeted Windows, Linux, and Android devices. To date, the group is believed to have infected at least a few thousand victims.
Their new backdoor, the security researchers say, was first observed in April this year and features an installer protected with VMProtect and compressed using UPX.
During installation, it checks if it runs in a virtual machine, drops and installs a malicious Chrome extension, creates a scheduled task, creates a mutex to ensure only one instance of itself is running, drops the backdoor in the Temp folder, then checks OS version and launches the backdoor based on the platform iteration.
The malware also checks if Qhioo360 products are present on the systems and only proceeds if none is found. It also installs a malicious certificate to sign the backdoor binary as root CA, then creates a service pointing back to the backdoor.
Part of the backdoor’s code is based on HackingTeam’s leaked RCS source code, the researchers say. Specifically, the cybercriminals used two main functions in their IronStealer and Iron ransomware families.
These include a virtual machine detection code taken directly from HackingTeam’s “Soldier” implant (which targets Cuckoo Sandbox, VMware products, and Oracle’s VirtualBox) and the DynamicCall module from HackingTeam’s “core” library (dynamically calls external library function by obfuscating the function name, thus making static analysis more difficult).
The malicious Chrome extension dropped by the malware is a patched version of Adblock Plus, which injects an in-browser crypto-mining module (based on CryptoNoter) and an in-browser payment hijacking module.
The extension constantly runs in the background, as a stealth host based crypto-miner. Every minute, the malware checks if Chrome is running, and can silently launch it if it doesn’t.
If Qhioo360 Safe Guard or Internet Security are found on the system, the malware runs once, without persistence. Otherwise, it installs the aforementioned rogue, hardcoded root CA certificate to make the backdoor binary seem legitimate.
The malware would decrypt a shellcode that loads Cobalt Strike beacon in-memory, and fetches a payload URL from a hardcoded Pastebin paste address.
Two different payloads were dropped by the malware, namely Xagent, a variant of “JbossMiner Mining Worm,” and the Iron ransomware, which started being dropped only recently.
The Iron backdoor drops the latest voidtool Everything search utility and silently installs it to use it for finding files likely containing cryptocurrency wallets (it targets around 20 wallets).
“IronStealer constantly monitors the user’s clipboard for Bitcoin, Monero & Ethereum wallet address regex patterns. Once matched, it will automatically replace it with the attacker’s wallet address so the victim would unknowingly transfer money to the attacker’s account,” the researchers explain.
Related: New Hacking Team Spyware Samples Detected: ESET