Category Archives: botnet

A new Stantinko Bot masqueraded as httpd targeting Linux servers

Researchers spotted a new variant of an adware and coin-miner botnet operated by Stantinko threat actors that now targets Linux servers.

Researchers from Intezer have spotted a new variant of an adware and coin-miner botnet that is operated by Stantinko threat actors since 2012.

The Stantinko botnet was first spotted by ESET in 2017, at the time it infected around half a million computers worldwide. Operators behind the botnet powered a massive adware campaign active since 2012, crooks mainly targeted users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan searching for pirated software.

According to a new analysis published by Intezer, the Linux trojan masqueraded as httpd, which is the Apache Hypertext Transfer Protocol Server commonly used on Linux servers. At the time of this analysis, the new version of the Trojan has a detection rate of one in VirusTotal. The sample, an unstripped 64-bit ELF binary, was uploaded on November 7, 2020 from Russia.

“We have identified a new version of this Linux trojan masqueraded as httpd. httpd is Apache Hypertext Transfer Protocol Server, a commonly used program on Linux servers. The sample’s version is 2.17, and the older version is 1.2*.” reads the analysis published by Intezer.

“We believe this malware is part of a broader campaign that takes advantage of compromised Linux servers.”

Upon execution, the Trojan will validate a configuration which is located at “/etc/pd.d/proxy.conf” and is delivered together with the malware

Then the malware creates a socket and a listener to accept connections from other infected systems.

“Once a client connects to the listener, the program calls the on_client_connect function. First, it checks if the request method is GET, POST or NOTIFY.” continues the analysis.

“If the request method is GET, the program will reply with a 301 redirect HTTP response containing the redirect_url parameter from the configuration file.”

If the request method is HTTP the proxy passes the request to an attacker-controlled server, which then responds with an appropriate payload that’s forwarded by the proxy to the client.

In case the compromised server will receive a HTTP Get request from a non-infected client, it replies with an HTTP 301 redirect to a preconfigured URL which is specified in the configuration file.


The new variant of the malware shares several function names with the old version, experts also noticed some hardcoded paths that are similar to the ones employed in previous Stantinko campaigns.

“Stantinko is the latest malware targeting Linux servers to fly under the radar, alongside threats such as DokiIPStorm and RansomEXX,” the report concludes. “We think this malware is part of a broader campaign that takes advantage of compromised Linux servers.”

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, malware)

The post A new Stantinko Bot masqueraded as httpd targeting Linux servers appeared first on Security Affairs.

Experts warn of mass-scanning for ENV files left unsecured online

Threat actors are scanning the Internet for ENV files that usually contain API tokens, passwords, and database logins.

Threat actors are scanning the internet for API tokens, passwords, and database logins that are usually used to store ENV files (Environment files) accidentally left exposed online.

Environment files are configuration files that usually contain user environment variables for multiple frameworks and development tools such as Docker, Node.js, Django, and Symfony.

Obviously these files should not be exposed online without any protection.

Upon discovering unprotected ENV files exposed online, threat actors will download them to access their content and us it attacks.

The scanning activities observed by several security experts are likely operated through botnets designed to search for these specific files and gather sensitive information that could be used by threat actors for multiple malicious activities.

Researchers from security firm Greynoise have reported that thousand of IP addresses have been involved in mass scanning operations aimed at discovering ENV files in the last three years. Experts reported that most of the IP addresses are in the United States, followed by Germany and France.

According to Greynoise, more than 1,000 scans have been observed over the past month.

A similar activity was reported by researchers from threat intelligence firm Bad Packets:

The lesson learned is to never expose online ENV files if we don’t want to make a gift to the attackers.

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, botnet)

The post Experts warn of mass-scanning for ENV files left unsecured online appeared first on Security Affairs.

A Not-So Civic Duty: Asprox Botnet Campaign Spreads Court Dates and Malware

Executive Summary

FireEye Labs has been tracking a recent spike in malicious email detections that we attribute to a campaign that began in 2013. While malicious email campaigns are nothing new, this one is significant in that we are observing mass-targeting attackers adopting the malware evasion methods pioneered by the stealthier APT attackers. And this is certainly a high-volume business, with anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousand malicious emails sent daily – usually distributing between 50 and 500,000 emails per outbreak.

Through the FireEye Dynamic Threat Intelligence (DTI) cloud, FireEye Labs discovered that each and every major spike in email blasts brought a change in the attributes of their attack. These changes have made it difficult for anti-virus, IPS, firewalls and file-based sandboxes to keep up with the malware and effectively protect endpoints from infection. Worse, if past is prologue, we can expect other malicious, mass-targeting email operators to adopt this approach to bypass traditional defenses.

This blog will cover the trends of the campaign, as well as provide a short technical analysis of the payload.

Campaign Details


Figure 1: Attack Architecture

The campaign first appeared in late December of 2013 and has since been seen in fairly cyclical patterns each month. It appears that the threat actors behind this campaign are fairly responsive to published blogs and reports surrounding their malware techniques, tweaking their malware accordingly to continuously try and evade detection with success.

In late 2013, malware labeled as Kuluoz, the specific spam component of the Asprox botnet, was discovered to be the main payload of what would become the first malicious email campaign. Since then, the threat actors have continuously tweaked the malware by changing its hardcoded strings, remote access commands, and encryption keys.

Previously, Asprox malicious email campaigns targeted various industries in multiple countries and included a URL link in the body. The current version of Asprox includes a simple zipped email attachment that contains the malicious payload “exe.” Figure 2 below represents a sample message while Figure 3 is an example of the various court-related email headers used in the campaign.


Figure 2 Email Sample


Figure 3 Email Headers

Some of the recurring campaign that Asporox used includes themes focused around airline tickets, postal services and license keys. In recent months however, the court notice and court request-themed emails appear to be the most successful phishing scheme theme for the campaign.

The following list contains examples of email subject variations, specifically for the court notice theme:

  • Urgent court notice
  • Notice to Appear in Court
  • Notice of appearance in court
  • Warrant to appear
  • Pretrial notice
  • Court hearing notice
  • Hearing of your case
  • Mandatory court appearance

The campaign appeared to increase in volume during the month of May. Figure 4 shows the increase in activity of Asprox compared to other crimewares towards the end of May specifically. Figure 5 highlights the regular monthly pattern of overall malicious emails. In comparison, Figure 6 is a compilation of all the hits from our analytics.


Figure 4 Worldwide Crimeware Activity


Figure 5 Overall Asprox Botnet tracking


Figure 6 Asprox Botnet Activity Unique Samples

These malicious email campaign spikes revealed that FireEye appliances, with the support of DTI cloud, were able to provide a full picture of the campaign (blue), while only a fraction of the emailed malware samples could be detected by various Anti-Virus vendors (yellow).


Figure 7 FireEye Detection vs. Anti-Virus Detection

By the end of May, we observed a big spike on the unique binaries associated with this malicious activity. Compared to the previous days where malware authors used just 10-40 unique MD5s or less per day, we saw about 6400 unique MD5s sent out on May 29th. That is a 16,000% increase in unique MD5s over the usual malicious email campaign we’d observed. Compared to other recent email campaigns, Asprox uses a volume of unique samples for its campaign.


Figure 8 Asprox Campaign Unique Sample Tracking


Figure 9 Geographical Distribution of the Campaign


Figure 10 Distribution of Industries Affected

Brief Technical Analysis


Figure 11 Attack Architecture


The infiltration phase consists of the victim receiving a phishing email with a zipped attachment containing the malware payload disguised as an Office document. Figure 11 is an example of one of the more recent phishing attempts.


Figure 12 Malware Payload Icon


Once the victim executes the malicious payload, it begins to start an svchost.exe process and then injects its code into the newly created process. Once loaded into memory, the injected code is then unpacked as a DLL. Notice that Asprox uses a hardcoded mutex that can be found in its strings.

  1. Typical Mutex Generation
    1. "2GVWNQJz1"
  2. Create svchost.exe process
  3. Code injection into svchost.exe


Once the dll is running in memory it then creates a copy of itself in the following location:


Example filename:


It’s important to note that the process will first check itself in the startup registry key, so a compromised endpoint will have the following registry populated with the executable:



The malware uses various encryption techniques to communicate with the command and control (C2) nodes. The communication uses an RSA (i.e. PROV_RSA_FULL) encrypted SSL session using the Microsoft Base Cryptographic Provider while the payloads themselves are RC4 encrypted. Each sample uses a default hardcoded public key shown below.

Default Public Key






-----END PUBLIC KEY-----

First Communication Packet

Bot ID RC4 Encrypted URL

POST /5DBA62A2529A51B506D197253469FA745E7634B4FC


Accept: */*

Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

User-Agent: <host useragent>

Host: <host ip>:443

Content-Length: 319

Cache-Control: no-cache


C2 Commands

In comparison to the campaign at the end of 2013, the current campaign uses one of the newer versions of the Asprox family where threat actors added the command “ear.”

if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"idl") )


if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"run") )


if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"rem") )


if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"ear")


if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"rdl") )


if ( wcsicmp(Str1, L"red") )


if ( !wcsicmp(Str1, L"upd") )

C2 commands Description
idl idl This commands idles the process to wait for commands This commands idles the process to wait for commands
run run Download from a partner site and execute from a specified path Download from a partner site and execute from a specified path
rem rem Remove itself Remove itself
ear ear Download another executable and create autorun entry Download another executable and create autorun entry
rdl rdl Download, inject into svchost, and run Download, inject into svchost, and run
upd upd Download and update Download and update
red red Modify the registry Modify the registry

C2 Campaign Characteristics


For the two major malicious email campaign spikes in April and May of 2014, separate sets of C2 nodes were used for each major spike.

April May-June


The data reveals that each of the Asprox botnet’s malicious email campaigns changes its method of luring victims and C2 domains, as well as the technical details on monthly intervals. And, with each new improvement, it becomes more difficult for traditional security methods to detect certain types of malware.


Nart Villeneuve, Jessa dela Torre, and David Sancho. Asprox Reborn. Trend Micro. 2013.