A new strain of the Shamoon 2 malware was spotted by the security experts at Palo Alto Networks, this variant targets virtualization products.
Shamoon, also known as Disttrack, was first spotted in a wave of attacks that targeted companies in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Among the victims, there was the petrol giant Saudi Aramco. The principal capability of Shamoon is a feature that allows it to wipe data from hard drives of the infected systems.
In the attack against Saudi Aramco Shamoon wipe data on over 30,000 computers and rewrite the hard drive MBR (Master Boot Record) with an image of a burning US flag.
The first team that discovered the malware was Kaspersky Lab that had analyzed some instances of the threat linked to the “wiper agent” due to the presence of a module of a string with a name that includes “wiper” as part of it.
The researcher of Seculert who analyzed Shamoon discovered that it has also the ability to overwrite the machine’s MBR. Before Shamoon makes unusable the infected PC, it gathers data from the victim, it steals information, taking data from the ‘Users’, ‘Documents and Settings’, and ‘System32/Drivers’ and ‘System32/Config’ folders on Windows computers, and send them to another infected PC on the same internal network.
In December malware researchers from Palo Alto Networks and Symantec discovered a new variant, so-called Shamoon 2, that was used at least in a targeted attack against a single Saudi organization, the Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
“Why Shamoon has suddenly returned again after four years is unknown. However, with its highly destructive payload, it is clear that the attackers want their targets to sit up and take notice,” reported Symantec.
“Last week, Unit 42 came across new Disttrack samples that appear to have been used in an updated attack campaign. The attack targeted at least one organization in Saudi Arabia, which aligns with the targeting of the initial Shamoon attacks. It appears the purpose of the new Disttrack samples were solely focused on destruction, as the samples were configured with a non-operational C2 server to report to and were set to begin wiping data exactly on 2016/11/17 20:45. In another similarity to Shamoon, this is the end of the work week in Saudi Arabia (their work week is from Sunday to Thursdays), so the malware had potentially the entire weekend to spread. The Shamoon attacks took place on Lailat al Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims; another time the attackers could be reasonably certain employees would not be at work.” reads an analysis published by Palo Alto Networks.
Now the second variant of Shamoon 2 was spotted by Palo Alto Networks that had been configured to start wiping infected systems at 1:30 AM (Saudi Arabia time) on November 29, when the employees of the targeted organization’ were likely at home.
The first variant of Shamoon 2 analyzed by the experts presented a default configuration that allowed the execution of the disk-wiping component at 8:45pm local time on Thursday, November 17. Considering that in Saudi Arabia the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, the attacker tried to exploit the pause in order to maximize the effects of the attack.
Both payloads were similar, but the analysis of the experts revealed some differences.
The second Shamoon 2 variant included credentials for virtualization products from Huawei, it targeted virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) products such as FusionCloud.
This circumstance suggests that attackers were aware that the target organization used this specific virtualization product. The hackers used default credentials reported in the product official documentation, this means they were hoping that the targeted organizations had not changed them. According to the experts, threat actors may have had access to appliances hosting the infrastructure.
“VDI solutions can provide some protection against a destructive malware like Disttrack through the ability to load snapshots of wiped systems. Also, since FusionCloud systems run a Linux operating system, which would not be susceptible to wiping by the Windows-only Disttrack malware, this could be seen as a reasonable countermeasure against attacks like Shamoon,” reads the blog post published by Palo Alto Networks.
“However, if the attacker was able to log into the VDI management interfaces using the account credentials they could manually carry out destructive activities against the VDI deployment, as well as any snapshot,”
Researchers observed that communications module used by the threat was configured without a C&C, the module completely lack any IP address or domain name for a C2 server within its configuration.
I suggest you give a look at the report that also includes Indicators of Compromise for the threat.
(Security Affairs – Shamoon 2, malware)