Researchers Sound Alarm on Dangerous BatLoader Malware Dropper

A harmful new malware loader with options for figuring out whether or not it is on a enterprise system or a private pc has begun quickly infecting programs worldwide over the previous few months.

Researchers at VMware Carbon Black are monitoring the menace, dubbed BatLoader, and say its operators are utilizing the dropper to distribute quite a lot of malware instruments together with a banking Trojan, an data stealer, and the Cobalt Strike post-exploit toolkit on sufferer programs. The menace actor’s tactic has been to host the malware on compromised web sites and lure customers to these websites utilizing SEO (website positioning) poisoning strategies.

Dwelling Off the Land

BatLoader depends closely on batch and PowerShell scripts to achieve an preliminary foothold on a sufferer machine and to obtain different malware onto it. This has made the marketing campaign hard to detect and block, particularly within the early phases, analysts from VMware Carbon Black’s managed detection and response (MDR) group stated in a report launched on Nov. 14.

VMware stated its Carbon Black MDR group had noticed 43 profitable infections within the final 90 days, along with quite a few different unsuccessful makes an attempt the place a sufferer downloaded the preliminary an infection file however didn’t execute it. 9 of the victims have been organizations within the enterprise providers sector, seven have been monetary providers corporations, and 5 have been in manufacturing. Different victims included organizations within the training, retail, IT, and healthcare sectors.

On Nov. 9, eSentire stated its threat-hunting group had noticed BatLoader’s operator luring victims to web sites masquerading as obtain pages for in style enterprise software program akin to LogMeIn, Zoom, TeamViewer, and AnyDesk. The menace actor distributed hyperlinks to those web sites via ads that showed up prominently in search engine results when customers looked for any of those software program merchandise.

The safety vendor stated that in a single late October incident, an eSentire buyer arrived at a pretend LogMeIn obtain web page and downloaded a Home windows installer that, amongst different issues, profiles the system and makes use of the knowledge to retrieve a second-stage payload.

“What makes BatLoader attention-grabbing is that it has logic constructed into it that determines if the sufferer pc is a private pc or a company pc,” says Keegan Keplinger, analysis and reporting lead with eSentire’s TRU analysis group. “It then drops the kind of malware acceptable for the state of affairs.”

Selective Payload Supply

For instance, if BatLoader hits a private pc, it downloads Ursnif banking malware and the Vidar data stealer. If it hits a domain-joined or company pc, it downloads Cobalt Strike and the Syncro distant monitoring and administration device, along with the banking Trojan and data stealer.

“If BatLoader lands on a private pc, it’ll proceed with fraud, infostealing, and banking-based payloads like Ursnif,” Keegan says. “If BatLoader detects that it is in an organizational atmosphere, it’ll proceed with intrusion instruments like Cobalt Strike and Syncro.”

Keegan says eSentire has noticed “rather a lot” of current cyberattacks involving BatLoader. Many of the assaults are opportunistic and hit anybody searching for trusted and in style free software program instruments. 

“To get in entrance of organizations, BatLoader leverages poisoned adverts in order that when staff search for trusted free software program, like LogMeIn and Zoom, they as an alternative land on websites managed by attackers, delivering BatLoader.”

Overlaps With Conti, ZLoader

VMware Carbon Black stated that whereas there are a number of elements of the BatLoader marketing campaign which can be distinctive, there are additionally a number of attributes of the assault chain which have a resemblance with the Conti ransomware operation

The overlaps embody an IP handle that the Conti group utilized in a marketing campaign leveraging the Log4j vulnerability, and the usage of a distant administration device known as Atera that Conti has utilized in earlier operations. 

Along with the similarities with Conti, BatLoader additionally has a number of overlaps with Zloader, a banking Trojan that seems derived from the Zeus banking Trojan of the early 2000s, the safety vendor stated. The largest similarities there embody the usage of website positioning poisoning to lure victims to malware-laden web sites, the usage of Home windows Installer for establishing an preliminary foothold and the usage of PowerShell, batch scripts, and different native OS binaries in the course of the assault chain.

Mandiant was the primary to report on BatLoader. In a weblog put up in February, the safety vendor reported observing a menace actor utilizing “free productiveness apps set up” and “free software program growth instruments set up” themes as website positioning key phrases to lure customers to obtain websites. 

“This preliminary BatLoader compromise was the beginning of a multi-stage infection chain that gives the attackers with a foothold contained in the goal group,” Mandiant stated. The attackers used each stage to arrange the following section of the assault chain utilizing instruments akin to PowerShell, Msiexec.exe, and Mshta.exe to evade detection.


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