June 18, 2019 By Shane Schick 2 min read

A malware campaign dubbed InterPlanetary Storm is hiding its network activity among legitimate traffic by using a peer-to-peer (P2P) network for its command-and-control (C&C) communications.

Security researchers from Anomali described the malware, which is also known as simply IPStorm, in a blog post shortly after it was discovered in the wild last month. It’s an unusual security threat in that it takes advantage of the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), an open-source P2P network that is used to decentralize the hosting, storing and sharing of files.

The authors behind the IPStorm campaign have not yet been identified, although researchers said they seem to be aiming primarily at Windows-based machines.

IPStorm’s Infection Routine and Functionality

Once an infection takes place, IPStorm is able to execute almost any arbitrary PowerShell code using what researchers described as “reverse shell” functionality. This means whoever is behind the campaign could then conduct a range of activities, from running a bot campaign to powering distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

IPStorm’s authors are also likely well-versed in software development, given the campaign is written in the Go programming language and can be split into multiple parts. This means it is easier to update the malware with new functionality, researchers said, or switch certain features as needed for a specific kind of cyberattack.

Besides disguising its activities within P2P network traffic, IPStorm also tries to hide within an infected system by finding a folder and installing itself with a randomly selected name. This means its memory allocations might go unnoticed by unsuspecting computer users, researchers added.

Though the ultimate goal behind the malware campaign has yet to be revealed, researchers also noted that metadata within the code suggests other operating systems may soon be targeted in addition to Windows.

Taking Shelter From InterPlanetary Storm

IPStorm may be unusual for its use of P2P networks, but its focus on PowerShell as an attack vector comes as less of a surprise. IBM X-Force IRIS researchers have been noting an uptick in PowerShell-releated threats since late last year.

Besides ensuring that they’re using PowerShell v5, IBM experts advise security teams to keep a close eye on transcription logs and commands that are typical of malicious actors. Deploying proper endpoint protection and a security information and event management (SIEM) system are among other ways to stay protected.

More from

Change Healthcare discloses $22M ransomware payment

3 min read - UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty found himself answering questions in front of Congress on May 1 regarding the Change Healthcare ransomware attack that occurred in February. During the hearing, he admitted that his organization paid the attacker's ransomware request. It has been reported that the hacker organization BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, received a payment of $22 million via Bitcoin.Even though they made the ransomware payment, Witty shared that Change Healthcare did not get its data back. This is a…

Phishing kit trends and the top 10 spoofed brands of 2023

4 min read -  The 2024 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reported that phishing was one of the top initial access vectors observed last year, accounting for 30% of incidents. To carry out their phishing campaigns, attackers often use phishing kits: a collection of tools, resources and scripts that are designed and assembled to ease deployment. Each phishing kit deployment corresponds to a single phishing attack, and a kit could be redeployed many times during a phishing campaign. IBM X-Force has analyzed thousands of…

How I got started: AI security researcher

4 min read - For the enterprise, there’s no escape from deploying AI in some form. Careers focused on AI are proliferating, but one you may not be familiar with is AI security researcher. These AI specialists are cybersecurity professionals who focus on the unique vulnerabilities and threats that arise from the use of AI and machine learning (ML) systems. Their responsibilities vary, but key roles include identifying and analyzing potential security flaws in AI models and developing and testing methods malicious actors could…

Topic updates

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