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Malware & Threats

3 Malware Loaders Detected in 80% of Attacks: Security Firm

QakBot, SocGholish, and Raspberry Robin are the three most popular malware loaders, accounting for 80% of the observed incidents.

QakBot, SocGholish, and Raspberry Robin are the three most popular malware loaders among cybercriminals, accounting for 80% of the observed attacks, cybersecurity firm ReliaQuest reports.

From January 1 to July 31, 2023, QakBot was responsible for 30% of the observed incidents, SocGholish for 27% of them, and Raspberry Robin for 23%.

According to the company, not all observed incidents resulted in network compromise, as the loader was detected and stopped before it could cause problems.

Active since 2009, QakBot (QBot, or Quakbot) was initially a banking trojan but later evolved into a malware loader that can deploy additional payloads, steal sensitive information, and enable lateral movement.

Typically delivered via phishing emails, QakBot has been associated with the BlackBasta ransomware group, which consists of former Conti ransomware gang members.

“QakBot is an evolving, persistent threat used to opportunistically target any industry or region. Their operators are capable and resourceful in adapting to change, and they’re likely to be here for the foreseeable future,” ReliaQuest notes.

Active since at least 2018, SocGholish (aka FakeUpdates) is deployed via drive-by downloads, using a wide network of compromised websites offering fake updates.

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The loader has been linked to the Russia-based Evil Corp cybercrime group, which has been active since at least 2007, and to the initial access broker (IAB) known as Exotic Lily.

During the first half of 2023, SocGholish’s operators were observed conducting aggressive watering hole attacks, leveraging the compromised websites of large organizations.

A Windows worm initially observed in September 2021, Raspberry Robin mainly spreads via removable devices, such as USB drives, and has been linked to various threat actors, including Evil Corp and Silence.

Raspberry Robin has been observed deploying a broad range of ransomware and malware families, including Cl0p, LockBit, TrueBot, and others, in attacks targeting financial institutions, government organizations, and telecommunications and manufacturing companies, primarily in Europe.

In addition to these three loaders, Gootloader, Chromeloader, Guloader, and Ursnif were also highly active during the first seven months of the year, ReliaQuest says.

Related: New ‘Bumblebee’ Malware Loader Used by Several Cybercrime Groups

Related: Attackers Use Linux Binaries as Loaders for Windows Malware

Related: New Variant of Buer Malware Loader Written in Rust to Evade Detection

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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