Security Operations

Ukrainian CERT Warns of New SmokeLoader Campaign

Hackers Using Compromised Email Addresses to Deliver the Malware
Ukrainian CERT Warns of New SmokeLoader Campaign
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Ukrainian cyber defenders are warning users for the second time this month to be aware of financially motivated phishing campaigns that load the SmokeLoader malware onto computers.

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The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine in a Monday alert said hackers tracked as UAC-0006 use compromised email addresses to send compressed files containing JavaScript loaders for SmokeLoader.

SmokeLoader is the name for a large family of Trojans known since 2011 that can be used to load additional malware but also has plug-ins for information exfiltration. Mitre said the malware is "notorious for its use of deception and self-protection."

Cyber defenders also say the campaign may attempt to load Cobalt Strike Beacon - penetration testing software used to execute PowerShell scripts, download files and surveil users.

A SmokeLoader sample analyzed by CERT-UA contained a list of 26 URLs for command-and-control servers, although the vast majority of the domains were unregistered. The hackers use Russian domain name registrars and providers. The government agency says UAC-0006 is financially motivated and typically targets computers used by accountants. It looks for access to banking systems and credential data in order to create unauthorized payments.

CERT-UA earlier this month spotted UAC-0006 using compromised email accounts with the subject "bill/payment" and an attached .zip file containing a SmokeLoader launcher.

Since the SmokeLoader JavaScript loader is activated using Microsoft's automated scripting tool Windows Script Host, CERT-UA recommends limiting end-user access to the tool.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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