Security Experts:

Tor-Enabled Bifrose Variant Used in Targeted Attack

A new variant of the Bifrose backdoor has been used in a cyberattack aimed at an unnamed device manufacturer, Trend Micro reported.

The threat, detected by the security firm as BKDR_BIFROSE.ZTBG-A, is more evasive than previous variants because it uses the Tor anonymity network for command and control (C&C) communications.

After infecting a device, the backdoor allows its masters to perform various tasks, including downloading and uploading files, creating and deleting folders, executing files and commands, capturing keystrokes, capturing screenshots and webcam images, terminating processes, collecting system information and manipulating windows.

"BIFROSE is mostly known for its keylogging routines, but it is capable of stealing far more information than just keystrokes," Trend Micro threat response engineer Christopher Daniel So explained in a blog post. "It can also send keystrokes and mouse events to windows, which means that the attacker may be able to conduct operations as the affected user without having to compromise their accounts. For example, the attacker can log into internal systems or even send messages to other users in the network."

While C&C communications via Tor can make the threat more elusive, the same communications can also be used by IT administrators to detect an attack. More precisely, they can identify malicious activity by monitoring the network for Tor traffic. Many organizations don't use Tor for regular operations so any traffic associated with the anonymity network could indicate a cyberattack.

Another method recommended by Trend Micro for detecting Bifrose, in addition to the use of security solutions, involves checking for a file named klog.dat, which is used for the threat's keylogging routines. Verifying network and mail logs could also help IT admins in detecting the malware.

Bifrose has been around since at least September 2008. One interesting campaign leveraging this particular threat was launched in 2010, when cybercriminals distributed the backdoor with the aid of a mail worm. The operation, dubbed "Here You Have," was initially aimed at the human resource departments of organizations like NATO and the African Union. This old campaign demonstrates Bifrose's potential for targeted attacks.

 The "Here You Have" campaign was so successful that it caused a global outbreak.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing 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.