September 20, 2018 By David Bisson 2 min read

The threat group known as Cobalt Gang is using a new downloader called CobInt to infect and subsequently install additional malware on systems of interest.

In August and September, Proofpoint observed four separate financially motivated attack campaigns from Cobalt Gang. Each of the operations used malicious URLs and Microsoft Word documents to download the first stage of CobInt malware.

For this phase, a basic downloader installed the main malware component. That element was responsible for executing various modules in the subsequent stage.

Researchers observed two modules at the time of discovery. One allowed the malware to send a screenshot to its command-and-control (C&C) server, and another enabled it to create and transfer a list of running processes on the infected machine. Even so, Proofpoint reasoned that CobInt likely loads up additional modules on systems of interest after it completes its reconnaissance stages.

What’s Driving the Rise of Malicious Downloaders?

According to Proofpoint, Cobalt Gang stopped using CobInt in May 2018 before picking it up again two months later. This return coincided with a rise in the use of downloaders to initially infect machines, conduct reconnaissance and install additional malware, as evidenced by Proofpoint’s discovery of two other downloaders, Marap and Advisorsbot, in August.

Aside from those findings, two additional malware families with downloader capabilities made second and third place in Check Point’s “Most Wanted Malware” list for August 2018. Check Point also tracked a growth of banking Trojan activity for August, with malicious downloaders helping to fuel this development.

How to Defend Against CobInt and Other Downloaders

Security professionals can defend their organizations against downloaders like CobInt by embracing artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to aid in threat detection and conduct cyber deception to misdirect and deactivate evasive malware. IBM experts also recommend monitoring and analyzing how apps behave across user devices and flagging anomalous behavior to nip future attacks in the bud.

Sources: Proofpoint, Proofpoint(1), Check Point

More from

Widespread exploitation of recently disclosed Ivanti vulnerabilities

6 min read - IBM X-Force has assisted several organizations in responding to successful compromises involving the Ivanti appliance vulnerabilities disclosed in January 2024. Analysis of these incidents has identified several Ivanti file modifications that align with current public reporting. Additionally, IBM researchers have observed specific attack techniques involving the theft of authentication token data not readily noted in current public sources. The blog details the results of this research to assist organizations in protecting against these threats. Key Findings: IBM research teams have…

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2024 reveals stolen credentials as top risk, with AI attacks on the horizon

4 min read - Every year, IBM X-Force analysts assess the data collected across all our security disciplines to create the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, our annual report that plots changes in the cyber threat landscape to reveal trends and help clients proactively put security measures in place. Among the many noteworthy findings in the 2024 edition of the X-Force report, three major trends stand out that we’re advising security professionals and CISOs to observe: A sharp increase in abuse of valid accounts…

How I got started: Cyber AI/ML engineer

3 min read - As generative AI goes mainstream, it highlights the increasing demand for AI cybersecurity professionals like Maria Pospelova. Pospelova is currently a senior data scientist, and data science team lead at OpenText Cybersecurity. She also worked at Interest, an AI cybersecurity company acquired by MicroFocus and then by OpenText. She continues as part of that team today.Did you go to college? What did you go to school for?Pospelova: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree…

Topic updates

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