A malware campaign spied on Russians to steal financial data and information related to smartcards.
According to research by ESET, the group behind “Operation Buhtrap“ began infecting last year and uses different code signing certificates and evasive techniques to avoid detection.
Operated by a group noted for targeted attacks and not financially-motivated tactics, infection begins with a malicious Word attachment, which uses a combination of off-the-shelf malware tools, a NSIS-packed Trojan downloader and bespoke spyware that abuses Yandex’s Punto software.
The malware allows the criminals to install a backdoor, it attempts to obtain the account password and even create a new account. It also installs a keylogger, clipboard stealer, a smart card module and has the capability to download and execute additional malware.
The malware specifically targets Russian businesses, with 88 per cent of targets in Russia and ten per cent in Ukraine. ESET said the cyber criminals behind this campaign are installing their software only on computers that have Russia as their default Windows locale.
It also said that there are some similarities to other targeted campaigns such as Carbanak with the infection vector and tactics, this is different from previously-seen attacks. “While the tools and software used in this campaign are far from being novel, the overall campaign is quite interesting and intriguing: it diverges quite a bit from the traditional banking malware with which we are familiar,” the report said.
ESET said that the malware abuses Yandex’s Punto software, a program for Russian users which silently and automatically changes the keyboard language depending on what the user is typing. Once the attacker compromises a computer, they use custom tools to analyse its content, install a backdoor and deploy a malicious module that spies on the system and can enumerate smart cards.
“This campaign is yet another reminder to all of us to ensure that computers are properly protected and patched against vulnerabilities,” said Jean-Ian Boutin, malware researcher at ESET.
“The techniques used by the cyber criminals are often associated with targeted attacks. It diverges quite a lot from the traditional banking malware we are familiar with. Once a computer on a network is compromised, the cyber criminals have access to several tools that will help them to first compromise other computers in the company and second, spy on the user and establish whether fraudulent banking transactions can be performed.”
Kevin Epstein, VP of advanced security and governance at Proofpoint, said: “Although most samples that researchers gather in the US reveal attacks on non-Russian banks, it’s interesting to see further proof that the challenge of cyber crime against financial institutions is worldwide.”