Researchers uncovered a malware sample called iTranslator that installs two drivers onto an infected machine to perform a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack.

According to FortiGuard Labs, the malware sample, called itranslator_02.exe, is signed by a digital certificate that expired back in 2015.

This instance starts off by creating a folder called “itranslator” in the program-data folder and extracting a file named wintrans.exe into that folder. The file initializes by installing iTranslatorSvc, a driver that enables the malware to load at system startup. Next, wintrans.exe installs another driver called “iNetfilterSvc” before downloading “iTranslator.dll.”

This dynamic link library (DLL) acts as the main malware module. It installs a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate into web browsers as trusted root certificates without the victim’s permission, communicates with the two drivers iNetfilterSvc and iTranslatorSvc, and monitors the internet access packets from a victim’s web browsers. These functions support iTranslator’s performance of a MitM attack on a compromised system, thereby empowering the attackers to steal sensitive information.

What Are the Elements of a MitM Attack?

As noted by Incapsula, a successful MitM attack consists of two elements: the interception of user traffic before it reaches its destination and the decryption of SSL traffic without alerting the user. Bad actors have several methods, such as IP spoofing and SSL hijacking, that allow them to fulfill both of these stages.

Online criminals are also embedding these tactics into different kinds of threats. Kaspersky Lab researchers noted that they discovered MitM capabilities in malicious Google Chrome extensions. According to Cisco Talos, meanwhile, the advanced Internet of Things (IoT) botnet malware VPNFilter also had a module for conducting MitM attacks.

How to Protect Against Malware Like iTranslator

For computers infected with iTranslator, FortiGuard Labs advised security professionals to delete the files and folders created by the malware. In general, organizations can defend themselves against MitM attacks by implementing a layered defense strategy that combines traditional, file-based security with machine learning, threat detection sandboxing and next-generation endpoint protection.

Sources: FortiGuard Labs, Incapsula, Securelist, Cisco Talos

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