Masad Stealer Exploits Telegram in Cryptocurrency Theft Campaign

October 1, 2019 @ 12:20 PM
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2 min read

A malware strain dubbed Masad Stealer is using the Telegram messaging app to steal cryptocurrency by accessing browser passwords and clipboard information, security researchers learned.

As detailed in a blog post from Juniper Labs, the malware can allow cybercriminals to replace clipboard information with addresses they control, using Telegram to exfiltrate the information. This process lets attackers access wallets containing Monero, Ether, bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency.

The investigation highlighted one instance in which an address that was swapped using Masad Stealer managed to procure more than $7,500 worth of bitcoin over the course of 193 transactions.

How Masad Stealer Works

Besides clipboards and browsers, Masad Stealer also collects information from a variety of other sources, including autofill fields in online forms, system information and cookies.

Much like similar threats, researchers said Masad Stealer tries to go unnoticed by bundling itself with legitimate software applications, such as CCleaner, Iobit and ProxySwitcher. It is easy to overlook the malware since it only takes up 1.5 MB in terms of file size.

Those who download packages containing those utilities and other applications allow the malware to get to work. Other than looking for more than 20 different kinds of cryptocurrency, Masad Stealer creates a scheduled task on the infected hosts, which is initiated on a minute-by-minute basis. This ensures it continues to run, no matter what else is happening to the victim’s machine.

Whereas some cybercriminal groups keep such tools for themselves, researchers said Masad Stealer is being actively promoted on black market forums as “Masad Clipper and Stealer.” At only $85 for the most advanced version, it’s well within reach of cryptocurrency thieves. In fact, a basic tier of the malware is free.

There is also a dedicated website offering the strain, and its authors have created a group with hundreds of members on — you guessed it — Telegram.

Get the Jump on CryptoJacking

The rise of cryptocurrencies has made malware like Masad Stealer more popular than ever, but security professionals are not without potential defenses. Unified endpoint management (UEM), for example, can be a good way to ensure that something downloaded by an individual user doesn’t infect the entire network.

Shane Schick
Writer & Editor
Shane Schick is a contributor for SecurityIntelligence.