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TA17-318B: HIDDEN COBRA – North Korean Trojan: Volgmer

Original release date: November 14, 2017 | Last revised: November 22, 2017

Systems Affected

Network systems

Overview

This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Working with U.S. government partners, DHS and FBI identified Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other indicators of compromise (IOCs) associated with a Trojan malware variant used by the North Korean government—commonly known as Volgmer. The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as HIDDEN COBRA. For more information on HIDDEN COBRA activity, visit https://www.us-cert.gov/hiddencobra.

FBI has high confidence that HIDDEN COBRA actors are using the IP addresses—listed in this report’s IOC files—to maintain a presence on victims’ networks and to further network exploitation. DHS and FBI are distributing these IP addresses to enable network defense and reduce exposure to North Korean government malicious cyber activity.

This alert includes IOCs related to HIDDEN COBRA, IP addresses linked to systems infected with Volgmer malware, malware descriptions, and associated signatures. This alert also includes suggested response actions to the IOCs provided, recommended mitigation techniques, and information on reporting incidents. If users or administrators detect activity associated with the Volgmer malware, they should immediately flag it, report it to the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) or the FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch), and give it the highest priority for enhanced mitigation.

For a downloadable copy of IOCs, see:

NCCIC conducted analysis on five files associated with or identified as Volgmer malware and produced a Malware Analysis Report (MAR). MAR-10135536-D examines the tactics, techniques, and procedures observed. For a downloadable copy of the MAR, see:

Description

Volgmer is a backdoor Trojan designed to provide covert access to a compromised system. Since at least 2013, HIDDEN COBRA actors have been observed using Volgmer malware in the wild to target the government, financial, automotive, and media industries.

It is suspected that spear phishing is the primary delivery mechanism for Volgmer infections; however, HIDDEN COBRA actors use a suite of custom tools, some of which could also be used to initially compromise a system. Therefore, it is possible that additional HIDDEN COBRA malware may be present on network infrastructure compromised with Volgmer

The U.S. Government has analyzed Volgmer’s infrastructure and have identified it on systems using both dynamic and static IP addresses. At least 94 static IP addresses were identified, as well as dynamic IP addresses registered across various countries. The greatest concentrations of dynamic IPs addresses are identified below by approximate percentage:

Technical Details

As a backdoor Trojan, Volgmer has several capabilities including: gathering system information, updating service registry keys, downloading and uploading files, executing commands, terminating processes, and listing directories. In one of the samples received for analysis, the US-CERT Code Analysis Team observed botnet controller functionality.

Volgmer payloads have been observed in 32-bit form as either executables or dynamic-link library (.dll) files. The malware uses a custom binary protocol to beacon back to the command and control (C2) server, often via TCP port 8080 or 8088, with some payloads implementing Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to obfuscate communications.

Malicious actors commonly maintain persistence on a victim’s system by installing the malware-as-a-service. Volgmer queries the system and randomly selects a service in which to install a copy of itself. The malware then overwrites the ServiceDLL entry in the selected service's registry entry. In some cases, HIDDEN COBRA actors give the created service a pseudo-random name that may be composed of various hardcoded words.

Detection and Response

This alert’s IOC files provide HIDDEN COBRA indicators related to Volgmer. DHS and FBI recommend that network administrators review the information provided, identify whether any of the provided IP addresses fall within their organizations’ allocated IP address space, and—if found—take necessary measures to remove the malware.

When reviewing network perimeter logs for the IP addresses, organizations may find instances of these IP addresses attempting to connect to their systems. Upon reviewing the traffic from these IP addresses, system owners may find some traffic relates to malicious activity and some traffic relates to legitimate activity.

Network Signatures and Host-Based Rules

This section contains network signatures and host-based rules that can be used to detect malicious activity associated with HIDDEN COBRA actors. Although created using a comprehensive vetting process, the possibility of false positives always remains. These signatures and rules should be used to supplement analysis and should not be used as a sole source of attributing this activity to HIDDEN COBRA actors.

Network Signatures

alert tcp any any -> any any (msg:"Malformed_UA"; content:"User-Agent: Mozillar/"; depth:500; sid:99999999;)

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

YARA Rules

rule volgmer
{
meta:
    description = "Malformed User Agent"
strings:
    $s = "Mozillar/"
condition:
    (uint16(0) == 0x5A4D and uint16(uint32(0x3c)) == 0x4550) and $s
}

Impact

A successful network intrusion can have severe impacts, particularly if the compromise becomes public and sensitive information is exposed. Possible impacts include

Solution

Mitigation Strategies

DHS recommends that users and administrators use the following best practices as preventive measures to protect their computer networks:

Response to Unauthorized Network Access

References

Revision History


This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.


TA17-318A: HIDDEN COBRA – North Korean Remote Administration Tool: FALLCHILL

Original release date: November 14, 2017 | Last revised: November 22, 2017

Systems Affected

Network systems

Overview

This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Working with U.S. government partners, DHS and FBI identified Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other indicators of compromise (IOCs) associated with a remote administration tool (RAT) used by the North Korean government—commonly known as FALLCHILL. The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as HIDDEN COBRA. For more information on HIDDEN COBRA activity, visit https://www.us-cert.gov/hiddencobra.

FBI has high confidence that HIDDEN COBRA actors are using the IP addresses—listed in this report’s IOC files—to maintain a presence on victims’ networks and to further network exploitation. DHS and FBI are distributing these IP addresses to enable network defense and reduce exposure to any North Korean government malicious cyber activity.

This alert includes IOCs related to HIDDEN COBRA, IP addresses linked to systems infected with FALLCHILL malware, malware descriptions, and associated signatures. This alert also includes suggested response actions to the IOCs provided, recommended mitigation techniques, and information on reporting incidents. If users or administrators detect activity associated with the FALLCHILL malware, they should immediately flag it, report it to the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) or the FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch), and give it the highest priority for enhanced mitigation.

For a downloadable copy of IOCs, see:

NCCIC conducted analysis on two samples of FALLCHILL malware and produced a Malware Analysis Report (MAR). MAR-10135536-A examines the tactics, techniques, and procedures observed in the malware. For a downloadable copy of the MAR, see:

Description

According to trusted third-party reporting, HIDDEN COBRA actors have likely been using FALLCHILL malware since 2016 to target the aerospace, telecommunications, and finance industries. The malware is a fully functional RAT with multiple commands that the actors can issue from a command and control (C2) server to a victim’s system via dual proxies. FALLCHILL typically infects a system as a file dropped by other HIDDEN COBRA malware or as a file downloaded unknowingly by users when visiting sites compromised by HIDDEN COBRA actors. HIDDEN COBRA actors use an external tool or dropper to install the FALLCHILL malware-as-a-service to establish persistence. Because of this, additional HIDDEN COBRA malware may be present on systems compromised with FALLCHILL.

During analysis of the infrastructure used by FALLCHILL malware, the U.S. Government identified 83 network nodes. Additionally, using publicly available registration information, the U.S. Government identified the countries in which the infected IP addresses are registered.

Technical Details

FALLCHILL is the primary component of a C2 infrastructure that uses multiple proxies to obfuscate network traffic between HIDDEN COBRA actors and a victim’s system. According to trusted third-party reporting, communication flows from the victim’s system to HIDDEN COBRA actors using a series of proxies as shown in figure 1.

HIDDEN COBRA Communication Flow

Figure 1. HIDDEN COBRA Communication Flow

FALLCHILL uses fake Transport Layer Security (TLS) communications, encoding the data with RC4 encryption with the following key: [0d 06 09 2a 86 48 86 f7 0d 01 01 01 05 00 03 82]. FALLCHILL collects basic system information and beacons the following to the C2:

FALLCHILL contains the following built-in functions for remote operations that provide various capabilities on a victim’s system:

Detection and Response

This alert’s IOC files provide HIDDEN COBRA indicators related to FALLCHILL. DHS and FBI recommend that network administrators review the information provided, identify whether any of the provided IP addresses fall within their organizations’ allocated IP address space, and—if found—take necessary measures to remove the malware.

When reviewing network perimeter logs for the IP addresses, organizations may find instances of these IP addresses attempting to connect to their systems. Upon reviewing the traffic from these IP addresses, system owners may find some traffic relates to malicious activity and some traffic relates to legitimate activity.

Network Signatures and Host-Based Rules

This section contains network signatures and host-based rules that can be used to detect malicious activity associated with HIDDEN COBRA actors. Although created using a comprehensive vetting process, the possibility of false positives always remains. These signatures and rules should be used to supplement analysis and should not be used as a sole source of attributing this activity to HIDDEN COBRA actors.

Network Signatures

alert tcp any any -> any any (msg:"Malicious SSL 01 Detected";content:"|17 03 01 00 08|";  pcre:"/\x17\x03\x01\x00\x08.{4}\x04\x88\x4d\x76/"; rev:1; sid:2;)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

alert tcp any any -> any any (msg:"Malicious SSL 02 Detected";content:"|17 03 01 00 08|";  pcre:"/\x17\x03\x01\x00\x08.{4}\x06\x88\x4d\x76/"; rev:1; sid:3;)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

alert tcp any any -> any any (msg:"Malicious SSL 03 Detected";content:"|17 03 01 00 08|";  pcre:"/\x17\x03\x01\x00\x08.{4}\xb2\x63\x70\x7b/"; rev:1; sid:4;)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

alert tcp any any -> any any (msg:"Malicious SSL 04 Detected";content:"|17 03 01 00 08|";  pcre:"/\x17\x03\x01\x00\x08.{4}\xb0\x63\x70\x7b/"; rev:1; sid:5;)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

YARA Rules

The following rules were provided to NCCIC by a trusted third party for the purpose of assisting in the identification of malware associated with this alert.

THIS DHS/NCCIC MATERIAL IS FURNISHED ON AN “AS-IS” BASIS.  These rules have been tested and determined to function effectively in a lab environment, but we have no way of knowing if they may function differently in a production network.  Anyone using these rules are encouraged to test them using a data set representitive of their environment.

rule rc4_stack_key_fallchill
{
meta:
    description = "rc4_stack_key"
strings:
    $stack_key = { 0d 06 09 2a ?? ?? ?? ?? 86 48 86 f7 ?? ?? ?? ?? 0d 01 01 01 ?? ?? ?? ?? 05 00 03 82 41 8b c9 41 8b d1 49 8b 40 08 48 ff c2 88 4c 02 ff ff c1 81 f9 00 01 00 00 7c eb }
condition:
    (uint16(0) == 0x5A4D and uint16(uint32(0x3c)) == 0x4550) and $stack_key
}

rule success_fail_codes_fallchill

{
meta:
    description = "success_fail_codes"
strings:
    $s0 = { 68 7a 34 12 00 }  
    $s1 = { ba 7a 34 12 00 }  
    $f0 = { 68 5c 34 12 00 }  
    $f1 = { ba 5c 34 12 00 }
condition:
    (uint16(0) == 0x5A4D and uint16(uint32(0x3c)) == 0x4550) and (($s0 and $f0) or ($s1 and $f1))
}

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Impact

A successful network intrusion can have severe impacts, particularly if the compromise becomes public and sensitive information is exposed. Possible impacts include:

Solution

Mitigation Strategies

DHS recommends that users and administrators use the following best practices as preventive measures to protect their computer networks:

Response to Unauthorized Network Access

 

References

Revision History


This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.




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