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Gozi ISFB Malware Detection Insights and Analysis | Darktrace

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26
Apr 2023
26
Apr 2023
Learn how Darktrace detected the Gozi ISFB malware, a type of banking trojan, with Self-Learning AI. Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats.

Mirroring the overall growth of the cybersecurity landscape and the advancement of security tool capabilities, threat actors are continuously forced to keep pace. Today, threat actors are bringing novel malware into the wild, creating new attack vectors, and finding ways to avoid the detection of security tools. 

One notable example of a constantly adapting type of malware can be seen with banking trojans, a type of malware designed to steal confidential information, such as banking credentials, used by attackers for financial gain. Gozi-ISFB is a widespread banking trojan that has previously been referred to as ‘the malware with a thousand faces’ and, as it name might suggest, has been known under various names such as Gozi, Ursnif, Papras and Rovnix to list a few.

Between November 2022 and January 2023, a rise in Gozi-ISFB malware related activity was observed across Darktrace customer environments and was investigated by the Darktrace Threat Research team. Leveraging its Self-Learning AI, Darktrace was able to identify activity related to this banking trojan, regardless of the attack vectors or delivery methods utilized by threat actors.

We have moderate to high confidence that the series of activities observed is associated with Gozi-ISFB malware and high confidence in the indicators of compromise identified which are related to the post-compromise activities from Gozi-ISFB malware. 

Gozi-ISFB Background

The Gozi-ISFB malware was first observed in 2011, stemming from the source code of another family of malware, Gozi v1, which in turn borrowed source code from the Ursnif malware strain.  

Typically, the initial access payloads of Gozi-ISFB would require an endpoint to enable a macro on their device, subsequently allowing a pre-compiled executable file (.exe) to be gathered from an attacker-controlled server, and later executed on the target device.

However, researchers have recently observed Gozi-ISFB actors using additional and more advanced capabilities to gain access to organizations networks. These capabilities range from credential harvest, surveilling user keystrokes, diverting browser traffic from banking websites, remote desktop access, and the use of domain generation algorithms (DGA) to create command-and-control (C2) domains to avoid the detection and blocking of traditional security tools. 

Ultimately, the goal of Gozi-ISFB malware is to gather confidential information from infected devices by connecting to C2 servers and installing additional malware modules on the network. 

Darktrace Coverage of Gozi-ISFB 

Unlike traditional security approaches, Darktrace DETECT/Network™ can identify malicious activity because Darktrace models build an understanding of a device’s usual pattern of behavior, rather than using a static list of indicators of compromise (IoCs) or rules and signatures. As such, Darktrace is able to instantly detect compromised devices that deviate from their expected behavioral patterns, engaging in activity such as unusual SMB connections or connecting to newly created malicious endpoints or C2 infrastructure. In the event that Darktrace detects malicious activity, it would automatically trigger an alert, notifying the customer of an ongoing security concern. 

Regarding the Gozi-ISFB attack process, initial attack vectors commonly include targeted phishing campaigns, where the recipient would receive an email with an attached Microsoft Office document containing macros or a Zip archive file. Darktrace frequently observes malicious emails like this across the customer base and is able to autonomously detect and action them using Darktrace/Email™. In the following cases, the clients who had Darktrace/Email did not have evidence of compromise through their corporate email infrastructure, suggesting devices were likely compromised via the access of personal email accounts. In other cases, the customers did not have Darktrace/Email enabled on their networks.

Upon downloading and opening the malicious attachment included in the phishing email, the payload subsequently downloads an additional .exe or dynamic link library (DLL) onto the device. Following this download, the malware will ultimately begin to collect sensitive data from the infected device, before exfiltrating it to the C2 server associated with Gozi-ISFB. Darktrace was able to demonstrate and detect the retrieval of Gozi-ISFB malware, as well as subsequent malicious communication on multiple customer environments. 

In some attack chains observed, the infected device made SMB connections to the rare external endpoint ’62.173.138[.]28’ via port 445. Darktrace recognized that the device used unusual credentials for this destination endpoint and further identified it performing SMB reads on the share ‘\\62.173.138[.]28\Agenzia’. Darktrace also observed that the device downloaded the executable file ‘entrat.exe’ from this connection as can be seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Model breach event log showing an infected device making SMB read actions on the share ‘\\62.173.138[.]28\Agenzia’. Darktrace observed the device downloading the executable file ‘entrat.exe’ from this connection.

Subsequently, the device performed a separate SMB login to the same external endpoint using a credential identical to the device's name. Shortly after, the device performed a SMB directory query from the root share drive for the file path to the same endpoint. 

Figure 2:SMB directory query from the root share drive for the file path to the same endpoint, ’62.173.138[.]28’.

In Gozi-ISFB compromises investigated by the Threat Research team, Darktrace commonly observed model breaches for ‘Multiple HTTP POSTs to Rare Hostname’ and the use of the Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64)’ user agent. 

Devices were additionally observed making external connections over port 80 (TCP, HTTP) to endpoints associated with Gozi-ISFB. Regarding these connections, C2 communication was observed used configurations of URI path and resource file extension that claimed to be related to images within connections that were actually GET or POST request URIs. This is a commonly used tactic by threat actors to go under the radar and evade the detection of security teams.  

An example of this type of masqueraded URI can be seen below:

In another similar example investigated by the Threat Research team, Darktrace detected similar external connectivity associated with Gozi-ISFB malware. In this case, DETECT identified external connections to two separate hostnames, namely ‘gameindikdowd[.]ru’ and ‘jhgfdlkjhaoiu[.]su’,  both of which have been associated to Gozi-ISFB by OSINT sources. This specific detection included HTTP beaconing connections to endpoint, gameindikdowd[.]ru .

Details observed from this event: 

Destination IP: 134.0.118[.]203

Destination port: 80

ASN: AS197695 Domain names registrar REG.RU, Ltd

User agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64

The same device later made anomalous HTTP POST requests to a known Gozi-ISFB endpoint, jhgfdlkjhaoiu[.]su. 

Details observed:

Destination port: 80

ASN: AS197695 Domain names registrar REG.RU, Ltd

User agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64

Figure 3: Packet Capture (PCAP) with the device conducting anomalous HTTP POST requests to a Gozi-ISFB related IOC, ‘jhgfdlkjhaoiu[.]su’.

Conclusions 

With constantly changing attack infrastructure and new methods of exploitation tested and leveraged hour upon hour, it is critical for security teams to employ tools that help them stay ahead of the curve to avoid critical damage from compromise.  

Faced with a notoriously adaptive malware strain like Gozi-ISFB, Darktrace demonstrated its ability to autonomously detect malicious activity based upon more than just known IoCs and attack vectors. Despite the multitude of different attack vectors utilized by threat actors, Darktrace was able to detect Gozi-ISFB activity at various stages of the kill chain using its anomaly-based detection to identify unusual activity or deviations from normal patterns of life. Using its Self-Learning AI, Darktrace successfully identified infected devices and brought them to the immediate attention of customer security teams, ultimately preventing infections from leading to further compromise.  

The Darktrace suite of products, including DETECT/Network, is uniquely placed to offer customers an unrivaled level of network security that can autonomously identify and respond to arising threats against their networks in real time, preventing suspicious activity from leading to damaging network compromises.

Credit to: Paul Jennings, Principal Analyst Consultant and the Threat Research Team

Appendices

List of IOCs

134.0.118[.]203 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB C2 Endpoint

62.173.138[.]28 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

45.130.147[.]89 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

94.198.54[.]97 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB C2 Endpoint

91.241.93[.]111 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

89.108.76[.]56 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

87.106.18[.]141 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

35.205.61[.]67 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

91.241.93[.]98 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint

62.173.147[.]64 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB C2 Endpoint

146.70.113[.]161 - IP Address - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Endpoint 

iujdhsndjfks[.]ru - Hostname - Gozi-ISFB C2 Hostname

reggy505[.]ru - Hostname - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Hostname

apr[.]intoolkom[.]at - Hostname - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Hostname

jhgfdlkjhaoiu[.]su - Hostname - Gozi-ISFB  C2 Hostname

gameindikdowd[.]ru - Hostname - Gozi-ISFB  Hostname

chnkdgpopupser[.]at - Hostname – Gozi-ISFB C2 Hostname

denterdrigx[.]com - Hostname – Gozi-ISFB C2 Hostname

entrat.exe - Filename – Gozi-ISFB Related Filename

Darktrace Model Coverage

Anomalous Connection / Multiple HTTP POSTs to Rare Hostname

Anomalous Connection / Posting HTTP to IP Without Hostname

Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname

Compromise / Agent Beacon (Medium Period)

Anomalous File / Application File Read from Rare Endpoint

Device / Suspicious Domain

Mitre Attack and Mapping

Tactic: Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols

Technique: T1071.001

Tactic: Drive-by Compromise

Technique: T1189

Tactic: Phishing: Spearphishing Link

Technique: T1566.002

Model Detection

Anomalous Connection / Multiple HTTP POSTs to Rare Hostname - T1071.001

Anomalous Connection / Posting HTTP to IP Without Hostname - T1071.001

Anomalous Connection / New User Agent to IP Without Hostname - T1071.001

Compromise / Agent Beacon (Medium Period) - T1071.001

Anomalous File / Application File Read from Rare Endpoint - N/A

Device / Suspicious Domain - T1189, T1566.002

References

https://threatfox.abuse.ch/browse/malware/win.isfb/

https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa22-216a

https://www.fortinet.com/blog/threat-research/new-variant-of-ursnif-continuously-targeting-italy#:~:text=Ursnif%20(also%20known%20as%20Gozi,Italy%20over%20the%20past%20year

https://medium.com/csis-techblog/chapter-1-from-gozi-to-isfb-the-history-of-a-mythical-malware-family-82e592577fef

INSIDE THE SOC
Darktrace cyber analysts are world-class experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting and incident response, and provide 24/7 SOC support to thousands of Darktrace customers around the globe. Inside the SOC is exclusively authored by these experts, providing analysis of cyber incidents and threat trends, based on real-world experience in the field.
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What you need to know about the new SEC Cybersecurity rules

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Jul 2024

What is new in 2023 to SEC cybersecurity rules?

Form 8-K Item 1.05: Requiring the timely disclosure of material cybersecurity incidents.

Regulation S-K item 106: requiring registrants’ annual reports on Form 10-K to address cybersecurity risk management, strategy, and governance processes.

Comparable disclosures are required for reporting foreign private issuers on Forms 6-K and 20-F respectively.

What is Form 8-K Item 1.05 SEC cybersecurity rules?

Form 8-K Item 1.05 requires the following to be reported within four business days from when an incident is determined to be “material” (1), unless extensions are granted by the SEC under certain qualifying conditions:

“If the registrant experiences a cybersecurity incident that is determined by the registrant to be material, describe the material aspects of the nature, scope, and timing of the incident, and the material impact or reasonably likely material impact on the registrant, including its financial condition and results of operations.” (2, 3)

How does the SEC define cybersecurity incident?

Cybersecurity incident defined by the SEC means an unauthorized occurrence, or a series of related unauthorized occurrences, on or conducted through a registrant’s information systems that jeopardizes the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of a registrant’s information systems or any information residing therein. (4)

How can Darktrace assist in the process of disclosing incidents to the SEC?

Accelerate reporting

Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst generates automated reports that synthesize discrete data points potentially indicative of cybersecurity threats, forming reports that provide an overview of the evolution and impact of a threat.

Thus, when a potential threat is identified by Darktrace, AI Analyst can quickly compile information that organizations might include in their disclosure of an occurrence they determined to be material, including the following: incident timelines, incident events, incident summary, related model breaches, investigation process (i.e., how Darktrace’s AI conducted the investigation), linked incident events, and incident details. The figure below illustrates how Darktrace compiles and presents incident information and insights in the UI.

Overview of information provided in an ‘AI Analyst Report’ that could be relevant to registrants reporting a material cybersecurity incident to the SEC
Figure 1: Overview of information provided in an ‘AI Analyst Report’ that could be relevant to registrants reporting a material cybersecurity incident to the SEC

It should be noted that Instruction 4 to the new Form 8-K Item 1.05 specifies the “registrant need not disclose specific or technical information about its planned response to the incident or its cybersecurity systems, related networks and devices, or potential system vulnerabilities in such detail as would impede the registrant’s response or remediation of the incident” (5).

As such, the incident report generated by Darktrace may provide more information, including technical details, than is needed for the 8-K disclosure. In general, users should take appropriate measures to ensure that the information they provide in SEC reports meets the requirements outlined by the relevant regulations. Darktrace cannot recommend that an incident should be reported, nor report an incident itself.

Determine if a cybersecurity incident is material

Item 1.05 requires registrants to determine for themselves whether cybersecurity incidents qualify as ‘material’. This involves considerations such as ‘the nature scope and timing of the incident, and the material impact or reasonably likely material impact on the registrant, including its financial condition and results of operations.’

While it is up to the registrant to determine, consistent with existing legal standards, the materiality of an incident, Darktrace’s solution can provide relevant information which might aid in this evaluation. Darktrace’s Threat Visualizer user interface provides a 3-D visualization of an organization’s digital environment, allowing users to assess the likely degree to which an attack may have spread throughout their digital environment. Darktrace Cyber AI Analyst identifies connections among discrete occurrences of threatening activity, which can help registrants quickly assess the ‘scope and timing of an incident'.

Furthermore, in order to establish materiality it would be useful to understand how an attack might extend across recipients and environments. In the image below, Darktrace/Email identifies how a user was impacted across different platforms. In this example, Darktrace/Email identified an attacker that deployed a dual channel social engineering attack via both email and a SaaS platform in an effort to acquire login credentials. In this case, the attacker useding a legitimate SharePoint link that only reveals itself to be malicious upon click. Once the attacker gained the credentials, it proceeded to change email rules to obfuscate its activity.

Darktrace/Email presents this information in one location, making such investigations easier for the end user.

Darktrace/Email indicating a threat across SaaS and email
Figure 2: Darktrace/Email indicating a threat across SaaS and email

What is regulation S-K item 106 of the SEC cybersecurity rules?

The new rules add Item 106 to Regulation S-K requiring registrants to disclose certain information regarding their risk management, strategy, and governance relating to cybersecurity in their annual reports on Form 10-K. The new rules add Item 16K to Form 20-F to require comparable disclosure by [foreign private issuers] in their annual reports on Form 20-F. (6)

SEC cybersecurity rules: Risk management

Specifically, with respect to risk management, Item 106(b) and Item 16K(b) require registrants to describe their processes, if any, for assessing, identifying, and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats, as well as whether any risks from cybersecurity threats, including as a result of any previous cybersecurity incidents, have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect them. The new rules include a non-exclusive list of disclosure items registrants should provide based on their facts and circumstances. (6)

SEC cybersecurity rules: Governance

With respect to governance, Item 106 and Item 16K require registrants to describe the board of directors’ oversight of risks from cybersecurity threats (including identifying any board committee or subcommittee responsible for such oversight) and management’s role in assessing and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats. (6)

How can Darktrace solutions aid in disclosing their risk management, strategy, and governance related to cybersecurity?

Impact scores

Darktrace End-to-End (E2E) leverages AI to understand the complex relationships across users and devices to model possible attack paths, giving security teams a contextual understanding of risk across their digital environments beyond isolated CVEs or CVSS scores. Additionally, teams can prioritize risk management actions to increase their cyber resilience through the E2E Advisory dashboard.

Attack paths consider:

  • Potential damages: Both the potential consequences if a given device was compromised and its immediate implications on other devices.
  • Exposure: Devices' level of interactivity and accessibility. For example, how many emails does a user get via mailing lists and from what kind of sources?
  • Impact: Where a user or asset sits in terms of the IT or business hierarchy and how they communicate with each other. Darktrace can simulate a range of possible outcomes for an uncertain event.
  • Weakness: A device’s patch latency and difficulty, a composite metric that looks at attacker MITRE methods and our own scores to determine how hard each stage of compromise is to achieve.

Because the SEC cybersecurity rules require “oversight of risks from cybersecurity threats” and “management’s role in assessing and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats” (6), the scores generated by Darktrace E2E can aid end-user’s ability to identify risks facing their organization and assign responsibilities to address those risks.

E2E attack paths leverage a deep understanding of a customer’ digital environment and highlight potential attack routes that an attacker could leverage to reach critical assets or entities. Difficulty scores (see Figure 5) allow security teams to measure potential damage, exposure, and impact of an attack on a specific asset or entity.

An example of an attack path in a digital environment
Figure 3: An example of an attack path in a digital environment

Automatic executive threat reports

Darktrace’s solution automatically produces Executive Threat Reports that present a simple visual overview of model breaches (i.e., indicators of unusual and threatening behaviors) and activity in the network environment. Reports can be customized to include extra details or restricted to high level information.

These reports can be generated on a weekly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and can be documented by registrants in relation to Item 106(b) to document parts of their efforts toward assessing, identifying, and managing material risks from cybersecurity threats.

Moreover, Cyber AI Analyst incident reports (described above) can be leveraged to document key details concerning significant previous incidents identified by the Darktrace solution that the registrant determined to be ‘material’.

While the disclosures required by Item 106(c) relate to the governance processes by which the board of directors, the management, and other responsible bodies within an organization oversee risks resulting from cybersecurity threats, the information provided by Darktrace’s Executive Threat Reports and Cyber AI Analyst incident reports can also help relevant stakeholders communicate more effectively regarding the threat landscape and previous incidents.

DISCLAIMER

The material above is provided for informational purposes only. This summary does not constitute legal or compliance advice, recommendations, or guidance. Darktrace encourages you to verify the contents of this summary with your own advisors.

References

  1. Note that the rule does not set forth any specific timeline between the incident and the materiality determination, but the materiality determination should be made without unreasonable delay.
  2. https://www.sec.gov/files/form8-k.pdf
  3. https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2023-139
  4. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-17/chapter-II/part-229
  5. https://www.sec.gov/files/form8-k.pdf
  6. https://www.sec.gov/corpfin/secg-cybersecurity
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Kendra Gonzalez Duran
Director of Technology Innovation

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Inside the SOC

Hashing out TA577: Darktrace’s Detection of NTLM Hash Theft

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09
Jul 2024

What is credential theft and how does it work?

What began as a method to achieve unauthorized access to an account, often driven by the curiosity of individual attackers, credentials theft become a key tactic for malicious actors and groups, as stolen login credentials can be abused to gain unauthorized access to accounts and systems. This access can be leveraged to carry out malicious activities such as data exfiltration, fraud, espionage and malware deployment.

It is therefore no surprise that the number of dark web marketplaces selling privileged credentials has increased in recent years, making it easier for malicious actors to monetize stolen credentials [1]. This, in turn, has created new opportunities for threat actors to use increasingly sophisticated tactics such as phishing, social engineering and credential stuffing in their attacks, targeting individuals, organizations and government entities alike [1].

Credential theft example

TA577 Threat Actor

TA577 is a threat actor known to leverage stolen credentials, also known as Hive0118 [2], an initial access broker (IAB) group that was previously known for delivering malicious payloads [2]. On March 4, 2024, Proofpoint reported evidence of TA577 using a new attack chain with a different aim in mind: stealing NT LAN Manager (NTLM) hashes that can be used to authenticate to systems without needing to know plaintext passwords [3].

How does TA577 steal credentials?

Proofpoint reported that this new attack chain, which was first observed on February 26 and 27, was made up of two distinct campaigns. The first campaign consisted of a phishing attack featuring tens of thousands of emails targeting hundreds of organizations globally [3]. These phishing emails often appeared as replies to previous messages (thread hijacking) and contained zipped HTML attachments that each contained a unique file hash, customized for each recipient [3]. These attached files also contained a HTTP Meta refresh function, which triggered an automatic connection to a text file hosted on external IP addresses running as SMB servers [3].

When attempting to access the text file, the server requires an SMB session authentication via NTLM. This session is initiated when a client sends an ‘SMB_COM_NEGOTIATE’ request to the server, which answers with a ‘SMB_COM_NEGOTIATE’ response.

The client then proceeds to send a ‘SMB_COM_SESSION_SETUP_ANDX’ request to start the SMB session setup process, which includes initiating the NTLM authentication process. The server responds with an ‘SMB_COM_SESSION_SETUP_ANDX’ response, which includes an NTLM challenge message [6].

The client can then use the challenge message and its own credentials to generate a response by hashing its password using an NTLM hash algorithm. The response is sent to the server in an ‘SMB_COM_SESSION_SETUP_ANDX’ request. The server validates the response and, if the authentication is successful, the server answers with a final ‘SMB_COM_SESSION_SETUP_ANDX’ response, which completes the session setup process and allows the client to access the file listed on the server [6].

What is the goal of threat actor TA577?

As no malware delivery was detected during these sessions, researchers have suggested that the aim of TA577 was not to deliver malware, but rather to take advantage of the NTLMV2 challenge/response to steal NTLM authentication hashes [3] [4]. Hashes stolen by attackers can be exploited in pass-the-hash attacks to authenticate to a remote server or service [4]. They can also be used for offline password cracking which, if successful, could be utilized to escalate privileges or perform lateral movement through a target network [4]. Under certain circumstances, these hashes could also permit malicious actors to hijack accounts, access sensitive information and evade security products [4].

The open-source toolkit Impacket, which includes modules for password cracking [5] and which can be identified by the default NTLM server challenge “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”[3], was observed during the SMB sessions. This indicates that TA577 actor aim to use stolen credentials for password cracking and pass-the-hash attacks.

TA577 has previously been associated with Black Basta ransomware infections and Qbot, and has been observed delivering various payloads including IcedID, SystemBC, SmokeLoader, Ursnif, and Cobalt Strike [2].This change in tactic to follow the current trend of credential theft may indicate that not only are TA577 actors aware of which methods are most effective in the current threat landscape, but they also have monetary and time resources needed to create new methods to bypass existing detection tools [3].  

Darktrace’s Coverage of TA577 Activity

On February 26 and 26, coinciding with the campaign activity reported by Proofpoint, Darktrace/Email™ observed a surge of inbound emails from numerous suspicious domains targeting multiple customer environments. These emails consistently included zip files with seemingly randomly generated names, containing HTLM content and links to an unusual external IP address [3].

A summary of anomaly indicators seen for a campaign email sent by TA577, as detected by Darktrace/Email.
Figure 1: A summary of anomaly indicators seen for a campaign email sent by TA577, as detected by Darktrace/Email.
Details of the name and size of the .zip file attached to a campaign email, along with the Darktrace/Email model alerts triggered by the email.
Figure 2: Details of the name and size of the .zip file attached to a campaign email, along with the Darktrace/Email model alerts triggered by the email.

The URL of these links contained an unusually named .txt file, which corresponds with Proofpoint reports of the automatic connection to a text file hosted on an external SMB server made when the attachment is opened [3].

A link to a rare external IP address seen within a campaign email, containing an unusually named .txt file.
Figure 3: A link to a rare external IP address seen within a campaign email, containing an unusually named .txt file.

Darktrace identified devices on multiple customer networks connecting to external SMB servers via the SMB protocol. It understood this activity was suspicious as the SMB protocol is typically reserved for internal connections and the endpoint in question had never previously been observed on the network.

The Event Log of a ‘Compliance / External Windows Communication’ model alert showing a connection to an external SMB server on destination port 445.
Figure 4: The Event Log of a ‘Compliance / External Windows Communication’ model alert showing a connection to an external SMB server on destination port 445.
External Sites Summary highlighting the rarity of the external SMB server.
Figure 5: External Sites Summary highlighting the rarity of the external SMB server.
External Sites Summary highlightin that the SMB server is geolocated in Moldova.
Figure 6: External Sites Summary highlightin that the SMB server is geolocated in Moldova.

During these connections, Darktrace observed multiple devices establishing an SMB session to this server via a NTLM challenge/response, representing the potential theft of the credentials used in this session. During this session, some devices also attempted to access an unusually named .txt file, further indicating that the affected devices were trying to access the .txt file hosted on external SMB servers [3].

Packet captures (PCAPs) of these sessions show the default NTLM server challenge, indicating the use of Impacket, suggesting that the captured NTLM hashes were to be used for password cracking or pass-the-hash-attacks [3]

PCAP analysis showing usage of the default NTLM server challenge associated with Impacket.
Figure 7: PCAP analysis showing usage of the default NTLM server challenge associated with Impacket.

Conclusions

Ultimately, Darktrace’s suite of products effectively detected and alerted for multiple aspects of the TA577 attack chain and NTLM hash data theft activity across its customer base. Darktrace/Email was able to uncover the inbound phishing emails that served as the initial access vector for TA577 actors, while Darktrace DETECT identified the subsequent external connections to unusual external locations and suspicious SMB sessions.

Furthermore, Darktrace’s anomaly-based approach enabled it to detect suspicious TA577 activity across the customer base on February 26 and 27, prior to Proofpoint’s report on their new attack chain. This showcases Darktrace’s ability to identify emerging threats based on the subtle deviations in a compromised device’s behavior, rather than relying on a static list of indicators of compromise (IoCs) or ‘known bads’.

This approach allows Darktrace to remain one step ahead of increasingly adaptive threat actors, providing organizations and their security teams with a robust AI-driven solution able to safeguard their networks in an ever-evolving threat landscape.

Credit to Charlotte Thompson, Cyber Analyst, Anna Gilbertson, Cyber Analyst.

References

1)    https://www.sentinelone.com/cybersecurity-101/what-is-credential-theft/

2)    https://malpedia.caad.fkie.fraunhofer.de/actor/ta577

3)    https://www.proofpoint.com/us/blog/threat-insight/ta577s-unusual-attack-chain-leads-ntlm-data-theft

4)    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/hackers-steal-windows-ntlm-authentication-hashes-in-phishing-attacks/

5)    https://pawanjswal.medium.com/the-power-of-impacket-a-comprehensive-guide-with-examples-1288f3a4c674

6)    https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/openspecs/windows_protocols/ms-nlmp/c083583f-1a8f-4afe-a742-6ee08ffeb8cf

7)    https://www.hivepro.com/threat-advisory/ta577-targeting-windows-ntlm-hashes-in-global-campaigns/

Darktrace Model Detections

Darktrace/Email

·       Attachment / Unsolicited Archive File

·       Attachment / Unsolicited Attachment

·       Link / New Correspondent Classified Link

·       Link / New Correspondent Rare Link

·       Spoof / Internal User Similarities

Darktrace DETECT

·       Compliance / External Windows Communications

Darktrace RESPOND

·       Antigena / Network / Significant Anomaly / Antigena Breaches Over Time Block

IoCs

IoC - Type - Description

176.123.2[.]146 - IP address -Likely malicious SMB Server

89.117.2[.]33 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

89.117.1[.]161 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

104.129.20[.]167 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

89.117.1[.]160 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

85.239.33[.]149 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

89.117.2[.]34 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

146.19.213[.]36 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

66.63.188[.]19 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

103.124.104[.]76 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

103.124.106[.]224 - IP address - Likely malicious SMB Server

\5aohv\9mn.txt - SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

\hvwsuw\udrh.txt - SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

\zkf2rj4\VmD.txt = SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

\naams\p3aV.txt - SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

\epxq\A.txt - SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

\dbna\H.txt - SMB Path and File - SMB Path and File

MAGNAMSB.zip – Filename - Phishing Attachment

e751f9dddd24f7656459e1e3a13307bd03ae4e67 - SHA1 Hash - Phishing Attachment

OMNIS2C.zip  - Filename - Phishing Attachment

db982783b97555232e28d5a333525118f10942e1 - SHA1 Hash - Phishing Attachment

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - NTLM Server Challenge -Impacket Default NTLM Challenge

MITRE ATT&CK Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs)

Tactic - Technique

TA0001            Initial Access

TA0002            Execution

TA0008            Lateral Movement

TA0003            Persistence

TA0005            Defense Evasion

TA0006            Credential Access

T1021.002       SMB/Windows Admin Shares

T1021  Remote Services

T1566.001       Spearfishing Attachment

T1566  Phishing

T1204.002       Malicious File

T1204  User Execution

T1021.002       SMB/Windows Admin Shares

T1574  Hijack Execution Flow

T1021  Remote Services

T1555.004       Windows Credential Manager

T1555  Credentials from Password Stores

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About the author
Charlotte Thompson
Cyber Analyst
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