July 13, 2024


Cream of Techno

Glupteba malware is back in action after Google disruption

3 min read
Glupteba malware is back in action after Google disruption


The Glupteba malware botnet has sprung back into action, infecting gadgets throughout the world soon after its procedure was disrupted by Google just about a yr in the past.

In December 2021, Google managed to result in a massive disruption to the blockchain-enabled botnet, securing the court orders to choose management of the botnet’s infrastructure and filing problems from two Russian operators.

Nozomi now reviews that blockchain transactions, TLS certification registrations, and reverse engineering Glupteba samples display a new, huge-scale Glupteba campaign that started out in June 2022 and is however ongoing.

Hiding in the blockchain

Glupteba is a blockchain-enabled, modular malware that infects Home windows gadgets to mine for cryptocurrency, steal user credentials and cookies, and deploy proxies on Windows techniques and IoT gadgets.

These proxies are afterwards bought as ‘residential proxies’ to other cybercriminals.

The malware is predominantly distributed by way of malvertising on pay out-for each-install (PPI) networks and visitors distribution units (TDS) pushing installers disguised as absolutely free application, videos, and films.

Glupteba makes use of the Bitcoin blockchain to evade disruption by getting up-to-date lists of command and regulate servers it must contact for commands to execute.

The botnet’s purchasers retrieve the C2 server deal with using a learn perform that enumerates Bitcoin wallet servers, retrieves their transactions, and parses them to come across an AES encrypted tackle.

Discover function used for retrieving C2 domains
Find out perform used for retrieving C2 domains (Nozomi)

This strategy has been employed by Glupteba for several years now, providing resilience versus takedowns.

That’s simply because blockchain transactions cannot be erased, so C2 deal with takedown attempts have a limited impact on the botnet.

Also, without a Bitcoin non-public critical, law enforcement can not plant payloads onto the controller address, so sudden botnet takeovers or world wide deactivations like the 1 that impacted Emotet in early 2021 are extremely hard.

The only draw back is that the Bitcoin blockchain is community, so any one can access it and scrutinize transactions to gather information and facts.

The return of Glupteba

Nozomi studies that Glupteba proceeds to use the blockchain in the similar way, nowadays, so its analysts scanned the full blockchain to unearth concealed C2 domains.

The exertion was enormous, involving the scrutiny of 1,500 Glupteba samples uploaded to VirusTotal to extract wallet addresses and attempt to decrypt transaction payload knowledge using keys affiliated with the malware.

Ultimately, Nozomi made use of passive DNS data to hunt for Glupteba domains and hosts and examined the newest set of TLS certificates applied by the malware to uncover far more info about its infrastructure.

The Nozomi investigation determined 15 Bitcoin addresses employed in four Glupteba campaigns, with the most new a person starting in June 2022, 6 months just after Google’s disruption. This marketing campaign is still underway.

This marketing campaign works by using more Bitcoin addresses than previous functions, offering the botnet even far more resilience.

Blockchain transaction diagrams. Latest campaign infrastructure on left, and 2019 to 2021 campaigns on right
Blockchain transaction diagrams. From still left to suitable, 2022 (most elaborate), 2021, 2020, and 2019 campaigns (Nozomi)

Moreover, the selection of TOR hidden companies employed as C2 servers has grown ten times given that the 2021 campaign, next a comparable redundancy technique.

The most prolific deal with had 11 transactions and communicated to 1,197 samples, with its past activity remaining registered on November 8, 2022.

Nozomi also studies many Glupteba domain registrations as recently as November 22, 2022, discovered by means of passive DNS information.

From the over, it’s obvious that the Glupteba botnet has returned, and the symptoms reveal it can be extra large than in advance of and potentially even extra resilient, location up a large variety of fallback addresses to resist takedowns by researchers and legislation enforcement.

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