September 16, 2019 By David Bisson 2 min read

The Astaroth Trojan used Facebook and YouTube profiles to support its infection chain in a new phishing campaign targeting Brazilian users.

First observed by Cofense, the phishing emails, which were written in Portuguese, masqueraded as one of three items: an invoice, a show ticket or a civil lawsuit notice. In each case, the email messages lured users into opening an .htm file to initiate the infection chain. Users who did so unknowingly downloaded a .ZIP archive that was geofenced to Brazil and contained a malicious .LNK file.

Upon running the .LNK file, the campaign downloaded JavaScript code from a Cloudflare Workers domain. The JavaScript snippet then pulled down multiple elements used to execute a sample of the Astaroth Trojan.

In this campaign, Astaroth used YouTube and Facebook profiles to host and maintain configuration data for its command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure. This information took the form of data contained within posts on a Facebook profile or within profile information for certain YouTube users. Through this technique, the attackers were able to bypass traditional security tools and collect sensitive data, such as financial information and stored passwords.

Astaroth’s Recent Activity

In September 2018, Cofense discovered a resurgence of Astaroth in which the Trojan potentially compromised as many as 8,000 machines in the span of one week. A few months later, Cybereason spotted a new variant of the malware abusing native operating system (OS) processes and exploiting security products to infect users in Brazil.

Then, in July, the Microsoft Defender ATP Research Team spotted a fileless malware campaign dropping Astaroth into memory.

How to Break an Infection Chain Initiated by Phishing

To help defend against infection chains initiated by phishing attacks, security teams should consider adopting a layered approach to email security that incorporates mail scanning, spam monitoring and other security measures. Companies should also practice ahead-of-threat detection to spot potentially malicious domains before they become active in phishing campaigns and other digital attacks.

More from

Unified endpoint management for purpose-based devices

4 min read - As purpose-built devices become increasingly common, the challenges associated with their unique management and security needs are becoming clear. What are purpose-built devices? Most fall under the category of rugged IoT devices typically used outside of an office environment and which often run on a different operating system than typical office devices. Examples include ruggedized tablets and smartphones, handheld scanners and kiosks. Many different industries are utilizing purpose-built devices, including travel and transportation, retail, warehouse and distribution, manufacturing (including automotive)…

Stealthy WailingCrab Malware misuses MQTT Messaging Protocol

14 min read - This article was made possible thanks to the hard work of writer Charlotte Hammond and contributions from Ole Villadsen and Kat Metrick. IBM X-Force researchers have been tracking developments to the WailingCrab malware family, in particular, those relating to its C2 communication mechanisms, which include misusing the Internet-of-Things (IoT) messaging protocol MQTT. WailingCrab, also known as WikiLoader, is a sophisticated, multi-component malware delivered almost exclusively by an initial access broker that X-Force tracks as Hive0133, which overlaps with TA544. WailingCrab…

Operationalize cyber risk quantification for smart security

4 min read - Organizations constantly face new tactics from cyber criminals who aim to compromise their most valuable assets. Yet despite evolving techniques, many security leaders still rely on subjective terms, such as low, medium and high, to communicate and manage cyber risk. These vague terms do not convey the necessary detail or insight to produce actionable outcomes that accurately identify, measure, manage and communicate cyber risks. As a result, executives and board members remain uninformed and ill-prepared to manage organizational risk effectively.…

Pentesting vs. Pentesting as a Service: Which is better?

5 min read - In today's quickly evolving cybersecurity landscape, organizations constantly seek the most effective ways to secure their digital assets. Penetration testing (pentesting) has emerged as a leading solution for identifying potential system vulnerabilities while closing security gaps that can lead to an attack. At the same time, a newer entrant into the security arena is Pentesting as a Service (PTaaS). Although PTaaS shares some similarities with pentesting, distinct differences make them two separate solutions. This article will discuss how these methodologies…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today