This blog was authored by Paul Rascagneres
We recently wrote about the KONNI Remote Access Trojan (RAT) which has been distributed by a small number of campaigns over the past 3 years. We have identified a new distribution campaign which took place on 4th July. The malware used in this campaign has similar features to that distributed earlier in 2017 with the following changes:
- A new decoy document copy/pasted from an article published on the 3rd of July by Yonhap News Agency in Korea;
- The dropper includes a 64 bit version of KONNI;
- A new CC infrastructure consisting of a climbing club website. North Korea conducted a test missile launch on 3rd July. This campaign appears to be directly related to the launch and the ensuing discussion of North Korean missile technology. This is consistent with previous KONNI distribution campaigns which have also frequently mentioned North Korea.
"N.K. marks anniversary of strategic force, touting missile capabilities" campaign
We identified an executable file, SHA-256 hash sum: 33f828ad462c414b149f14f16615ce25bd078630eee36ad953950e0da2e2cc90, which when opened displays the following Office document:
The content of the document is a copy/pasted from an article published on July 3rd by Yonhap News Agency in Korea. In addition to displaying this document, the malicious executable also drops 2 different versions of KONNI:
C:\Users\Users\AppData\Local\MFAData\event\eventlog.dll (64 bit)
C:\Users\Users\AppData\Local\MFAData\event\errorevent.dll (32 bit)
On 64 bit versions of Windows, both files are dropped; on 32 bit versions of Windows, only errorevent.dll, the 32 bit version is dropped. Unlike previous campaigns, both binaries are packed with ASPack. In both cases, the dropped malware is immediately executed via rundll32.exe with one of the following registry keys created to ensure that the malware persists and is executed on rebooting the compromised system:
This attack uses a new Command & Control infrastructure hosted on the following domain:
The CnC traffic of KONNI takes place as HTTP post requests to web pages hosted as /weget/download.php, /weget/uploadtm.php or /weget/upload.php on the domain itself.
The attackers have gone to some effort to disguise the website as a legitimate climbing club.
Here is a screenshot of the website:
However, the website does not contain real text, only the default text of the Content Management System (CMS).
Additionally, the website contains a contacts section with an address in USA, but the map below the address is in Korean and points to a location in Seoul, South Korea:
The KONNI malware distributed as part of this campaign is similar to previous versions that we have identified this year. The attackers have added a 64 bit version and used a packer to complicate analysis. This campaign is directly related to current events and is clearly 'fresh'. The binary was compiled on July 4th, the decoy document was published on July 3rd.
The threat actors associated with KONNI typically use decoy documents relating to North Korea, and this campaign is no exception. However, in contrast to the convincing decoy document lifted from a third party, the content of the decoy website hosted on the CnC server does not look legitimate. The text content is not consistent with the website navigation, and the contacts page contains a mis-match of a US address with a Korean map.
Nevertheless, this threat actor continues to remain active, and continues to develop updated versions of their malware. Organisations which may have an interest in the contents of this decoy document, and that used in previous campaigns should ensure that they are adequately protected against this and subsequent campaigns.
Additional ways our customers can detect and block this threat are listed below.
Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) is ideally suited to prevent the execution of the malware used by these threat actors.
Email Security can block malicious emails sent by threat actors as part of their campaign.
AMP Threat Grid helps identify malicious binaries and build protection into all Cisco Security products.
Umbrella, our secure internet gateway (SIG), blocks users from connecting to malicious domains, IPs, and URLs, whether users are on or off the corporate network
- Dropper: 33f828ad462c414b149f14f16615ce25bd078630eee36ad953950e0da2e2cc90
- 32 Bits binary: 290b1e2415f88fc3dd1d53db3ba90c4a760cf645526c8240af650751b1652b8a
- 64 bits binary: 8aef427aba54581f9c3dc923d8464a92b2d4e83cdf0fd6ace00e8035ee2936ad