HawkEye Keylogger Acts as First-Stage Loader for Cryptocurrency Miner

December 11, 2019 @ 11:20 AM
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2 min read

Researchers observed the HawkEye keylogger acting as the first-stage downloader for a cryptocurrency miner in a new phishing campaign.

As Cofense noted, the phishing campaign began by sending out generic attack emails leveraging fake job applications as a theme. Each of the emails arrived with what appeared at first glance to be a .zip archive containing a job applicant’s resume. When opened, the .zip archive delivered a sample of the HawkEye keylogger.

HawkEye is a piece of malware that’s capable of monitoring systems collecting sensitive information from infected machines and exfiltrating data to a command-and-control (C&C) server under the attacker’s control. These capabilities weren’t active in this campaign, however. Instead, malicious actors used HawkEye’s file installation feature to load a sample of CGMiner. This open-source cryptocurrency miner gave the attackers the ability to mine for different types of virtual currency across all operating systems.

Recent Attack History of the HawkEye Keylogger

This phishing campaign marks the latest development in a busy year for the HawkEye keylogger. Back in April 2019, Cisco Talos observed multiple malware campaigns distributing HawkEye Reborn v9, the keylogger’s most recent variant at the time, to steal information from targeted organizations. It was approximately a month later when My Online Security detected a HawkEye campaign that exfiltrated its data haul to spytector.com, a website that is known for selling another keylogger and information stealer.

Around that same time, in May 2019, IBM X-Force confirmed that the operators of the malware had stepped up their attacks against business users working for organizations in the transportation and logistics, healthcare, import and export, marketing, agriculture, and other sectors.

How to Keep Your Data Safe From a Keylogger

Security professionals can help protect enterprise data against the HawkEye keylogger by crafting an identity and access management (IAM) strategy that clearly aligns with the needs of the business. Doing so will help the security team more effectively orchestrate its data protection efforts. Simultaneously, companies should use artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools and network monitoring solutions to achieve visibility across the network so they can thwart sophisticated threats before they access critical data.

David Bisson
Contributing Editor

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley Security News and Associate Editor for Trip...
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