June 18, 2019 By David Bisson 2 min read

The Outlaw threat group is using a botnet to distribute a Monero cryptocurrency miner and a Perl-based backdoor component.

Trend Micro detected threat activity indicative of the Outlaw group when one of its honeypots picked up a URL that was spreading a botnet bundled with a Monero miner and a Perl-based backdoor component.

The threat actors gave themselves two distinct advantages by deciding to distribute a Perl-based backdoor. First, they imbued their campaigns with flexibility in that the backdoor can execute on both Linux- and Windows-based systems. Second, they made their malware easier to sell, as potential buyers wouldn’t need to heavily modify the backdoor while tailoring their individual attack campaigns.

In the samples they analyzed, Trend Micro researchers observed that the Perl-based backdoor was capable of launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Outlaw can use this functionality to monetize its botnet by offering DDoS-for-hire services. Additionally, the security firm saw that the URL arrived with an executable Secure Shell (SSH) backdoor.

A Look at the Outlaw Group’s Threat Activity

The Outlaw group has been ramping up its threat activity over the past few months after Trend Micro first came across the actor back in November 2018. At that time, the group compromised a server at a Japanese art institution as well as a Bangladeshi government site. It then linked these servers together to host an IRC bouncer and, in turn, function as the command-and-control (C&C) server for an emerging botnet made up of compromised internet of things (IoT) devices.

In December 2018, SwiftSafe found that the botnet consisted of 180,000 compromised hosts and 20,000 newly compromised hosts, including IoT devices and cloud virtual private servers (VPS).

How to Defend Against a Backdoor-Bundled Botnet

To fend off backdoor-bundled botnets, security teams should start by leveraging a layered security approach that blends file-based detection with machine learning and sandboxing technology. This strategy will also help defend against sophisticated threats such as fileless malware attacks. Organizations should also constantly monitor all networks and assets, including cloud-native applications.

More from

CISA releases landmark cyber incident reporting proposal

2 min read - Due to ongoing cyberattacks and threats, critical infrastructure organizations have been on high alert. Now, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has introduced a draft of landmark regulation outlining how organizations will be required to report cyber incidents to the federal government.The 447-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been released and is open for public feedback through the Federal Register. CISA was required to develop this report by the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022…

Ransomware payouts hit all-time high, but that’s not the whole story

3 min read - Ransomware payments hit an all-time high of $1.1 billion in 2023, following a steep drop in total payouts in 2022. Some factors that may have contributed to the decline in 2022 were the Ukraine conflict, fewer victims paying ransoms and cyber group takedowns by legal authorities.In 2023, however, ransomware payouts came roaring back to set a new all-time record. During 2023, nefarious actors targeted high-profile institutions and critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and government agencies.Still, it’s not all roses for…

What should an AI ethics governance framework look like?

4 min read - While the race to achieve generative AI intensifies, the ethical debate surrounding the technology also continues to heat up. And the stakes keep getting higher.As per Gartner, “Organizations are responsible for ensuring that AI projects they develop, deploy or use do not have negative ethical consequences.” Meanwhile, 79% of executives say AI ethics is important to their enterprise-wide AI approach, but less than 25% have operationalized ethics governance principles.AI is also high on the list of United States government concerns.…

Topic updates

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