UPDATED 22:30 EST / APRIL 04 2017

rat INFRA

New remote-access malware uses legitimate sites such as Twitter for attacks

A newly discovered remote-access tool that targets users of a Korean language word processor uses legitimate sites to target victims.

Dubbed ROKRAT by Cisco System Inc.’s Talos security arm, the RAT uses a phishing campaign to target users of the Korean language Microsoft Word alternative Hangul Word Processor. The attack vector is fairly typical for a phishing campaign. Targeted victims receive an email pretending to be from someone else — in this case, an email pretending to be from the Korea Global Forum complete with the sender’s address.

The attachment on the email includes an Encapsulated PostScript object aimed at exploiting a known vulnerability to download a binary masquerading as a .jpg file. Once the file is executed, the ROKRAT malware is installed on the victim’s machine, giving the hackers complete control.

At this point, things get interesting. The ROKRAT malware communicates not to a traditional hacker command-and-control center, but instead to Twitter and two cloud platforms, Yandex and Mediafire, which host both C&C communications and exfiltration platforms. The use of these websites versus traditional C&C points make them difficult to block within an organization becauses the sites are widely used by employees. In addition, the data shared uses HTTPS, making the data difficult to identify by traditional security software.

The RAT goes further in attempting to hide itself by using techniques to frustrate human analysts and avoid sandbox execution. As well as not running Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 systems, if ROKRAT detects a sandbox environment used by malware analysts, it will not execute. Instead, it appears to connect and load nonmalicious links in the form of either an Amazon video of a game called “Men of War” or a Hulu anime video called “Golden Time” to confuse researchers trying to study it.

ROKRAT attacks are currently confined to South Korea, with Talos hinting that North Korea might be behind the attacks. But the concern going forward is that now that the remote access trojan is in the wild, others may seek to copy its methodology.

Photo: Reg McKenna/Wikimedia Commons

Since you’re here …

Show your support for our mission with our one-click subscription to our YouTube channel (below). The more subscribers we have, the more YouTube will suggest relevant enterprise and emerging technology content to you. Thanks!

Support our mission:    >>>>>>  SUBSCRIBE NOW >>>>>>  to our YouTube channel.

… We’d also like to tell you about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content.

If you like the reporting, video interviews and other ad-free content here, please take a moment to check out a sample of the video content supported by our sponsors, tweet your support, and keep coming back to SiliconANGLE.