BLINDINGCAN RAT Malware Can Remote Control Computers
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a joint Malware Analysis Report (AR20-232A). The MAR exposes a new malware, called BLINDINGCAN, which is in use by the North Korean government.
In July of this year, North Korean hackers used fake defense contractor job postings to deliver malware to victims. The goal was to infect the job applicant’s computer with malware and gather intelligence on key military and energy technologies from people with security clearances.
BLINDINGCAN is a Trojan malware and is attributed to a North Korean advanced persistent threat (APT) group tracked as HIDDEN COBRA says the advisory. It can remote control an infected system as well as execute files.
“FBI has high confidence that HIDDEN COBRA actors are using malware variants in conjunction with proxy servers to maintain a presence on victim networks and to further network exploitation,” says the malware analysis report.
“CISA received four Microsoft Word Open Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents (.docx), two Dynamic-Link Libraries (DLLs). The .docx files attempt to connect to external domains for a download. A 32-bit and a 64-bit DLL was submitted that install a 32-bit and a 64-bit DLL named “iconcache.db” respectively. The DLL “iconcache.db” unpacks and executes a variant of Hidden Cobra RAT. It contains built-in functions for remote operations that provide various capabilities on a victim’s system.” States MAR-10295134-1.v1 – North Korean Remote Access Trojan: BLINDINGCAN.
BLINDINGCAN Malware Capabilities
North Korea’s BLINDINGCAN malware can delete itself from compromised systems and clean up traces of itself to avoid detection.
• Retrieve information about all disks on a system
• Create, start, and end a process
• Search, read, write, move, and execute files
• Fetch and modify file or directory timestamps
• Change the current directory for a process or file
• Delete itself and from the infected system
An advanced persistent threat group (APT) is an organized hacking group that works for a nation-state. APT groups are given monikers to track their malicious activity. The US government tracks North Korean government cyber activity as HIDDEN COBRA. This APT group is also known as Lazarus Group, Advanced Persistent Threat Group 38, and APT38.
North Korean Cyber Activity
In April of this year, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offered a bounty of $5M for information on HIDDEN COBRA or their cyber activities. A month earlier, the DOJ charged two North Koreans and for their role in a $100 million USD North Korean money-laundering scheme.
In June of last year, the United Nations (UN) found that that North Korean hackers had stolen over $2 billion dollars from financial institutions in a span of three years to fund their other activities.
System administrators should report malicious activity associated with BLINDINGCAN malware and report it to CISA or the FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch),
- Maintain up-to-date antivirus signatures and engines.
- Keep operating systems updated with the latest security patches.
- Disable File and Printer sharing services.
- Use strong passwords or Active Directory authentication if File and Printer sharing services are needed
- Restrict users’ permissions to install and run unwanted software applications.
- Do not add users to the local administrator group unless required.
- Require the use of a strong password policy
- Require regular password changes.
- Be vigilant of any e-mail attachments even if the attachment is expected and the sender appears to be familiar
- Train users in phishing email tactics
- Enable a personal firewall on agency workstations, configured to deny unsolicited connection requests.
- Disable unnecessary services on agency workstations and servers.
- Scan for and remove suspicious e-mail attachments; ensure the scanned attachment is its “true file type”
- Restrict access to sites with malicious content.
- Exercise caution when using removable media (e.g., USB thumb drives, external drives, CDs, etc.).
- Scan all software downloaded from the Internet prior to executing.