Splunk spots malware targeting Windows Server on AWS to mine Monero

RDP-enabled instances attacked, perhaps via Iran and China, then use Telegram desktop client for command and control

Data analysis firm Splunk says it's found a resurgence of the Crypto botnet – malware that attacks virtual servers running Windows Server inside Amazon Web Services.

Splunk's Threat Research Team (STRT) posted its analysis of the attack on Monday, suggesting it starts with a probe for Windows Server instances running on AWS, and seeks out those with remote desktop protocol (RDP) enabled.

Once target VMs are identified, the attackers wheel out an old favourite: brute forcing passwords. If that tactic succeeds, the attackers get to work and install cryptomining tools that produce the Monero cryptocurrency.

Secure messaging app Telegram plays a role, too. Attackers install it and use it to carry command and control messages.

Splunk's security team noticed that one of the Monero wallets used in this campaign was also involved in a 2018 wave of attacks using the same Crypto botnet.

But this time around the attack differs in using resources identifiable as being from China and Iran. China seems the likely location of some malicious domains associated with the attack, and Iran is seen as the source of sites and Telegram channels that have left fingerprints in code and victim machines.

Splunk's advice for those hoping to avoid the attack is simple: stay up to date with patches, use strong passwords, and enable network-level authentication. Windows admins will also know that RDP is not on by default, for good reasons – advice for those not wanting to avoid the attack is presumably to switch on RDP, use 'Admin/Passw0rd1234' as the login credentials and let 'er rip.

The vendor has published a guide to the attack here. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022