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Blogs > Security Research

Saefko: A new multi-layered RAT

Published on:

Authored by:

Rajdeepsinh Dodia

Priyanka Bhati



Saefko: A new multi-layered RAT

Recently, the Zscaler ThreatLabZ team came across a new remote-access trojan (RAT) for sale on the dark web. The RAT, called Saefko, is written in .NET and has multiple functionalities. This blog provides a detailed analysis of this piece of malware, including its HTTP, IRC, and data stealing and spreading module.


A RAT is a type of malware that includes a backdoor for remote administrative control of the targeted computer. RATs are usually downloaded as a result of a user opening an email attachment or downloading an application or a game that has been infected. Because a RAT enables administrative control, the intruder can do just about anything on the targeted computer, such as monitoring user behavior by logging keystrokes, accessing confidential information, activating the system's webcam, taking screenshots, formatting drives, and more.

Upon successful infection, the Saefko RAT stays in the background and executes every time the user logs in. It fetches the chrome browser history looking for specific types of activities, such as those involving credit cards, business, social media, gaming, cryptocurrency, shopping, and more. It sends the data it has collected to its command-and-control (C&C) server and requests for further instructions. The C&C instructs the malware to provide system information and the RAT will begin to collect a range of data including screenshot,videos, keystroke logs and more. The C&C can also instruct the malware to download additional payload onto the infected system.

RATs present a unique business threat. They have the ability to steal a lot of data without being detected and spread to other systems across the network. The ThreatLabZ team also detonated the Saefko RAT in the Zscaler Cloud Sandbox to determine its functionality, communications, and the potential threat.

Technical Analysis of the Saefko RAT

Saefko malware unpacks itself and places the saefkoagent.exe file in “/%AppData%/Roaming/SaefkoAgent.exe” and executes it. It also copies itself to “/%AppData%/Roaming/windows.exe” and "/%AppData%/Local/explorer.exe” and executes them.

Autostart Key

The Saefko malware creates a startup key to execute the malware at every login. If it is executing from an admin account, it creates the following registry key:
Otherwise, it creates a registry key in the following path:


Saefko first checks to see whether the internet connection is active by connecting to “clients3.google.com/generate_204”. It then uses a unique technique to identify if the infected system contains any vital information. It fetches the browser history and searches for particular websites that have been visited by the user and makes a count based on the categories mentioned below. From the counts, the attacker can determine which systems it should target first from all the infected systems.

The list of different categories it searches include:

Credit card possibility

paypal.com 2c2p adyen.com volusion.com
pay.amazon.com apple.com/apple-pay/ atos.net authorize.net
BIPS bitpay.com bpay.com braintreepayments.com
centup.org cm.com creditcall.com cybersource.com
mastercard.com digi.cash digitalriver.com dwolla.com
elavon.com euronetworldwide.com eway.io firstdata.com
fortumo.com pay.google.com/send/home heartlandpaymentsystems.com ingenico.com
ippayments.com klarna.com emergentpayments.ne moduslink.com
mpay.com neteller.com ofx.com pagseguro
payoneer.com paymentwall.com paypoint.co paysbuy.com
paysafe.com paytm.com payzone.co.uk crunchbase.com
qiwi.com globalpaymentsinc.com reddotpayment.com sagellc.com
skrill.com stripe.com squareup.com tencent.com




wepay.com verifone.com xendpay.com pay.weixin.qq.com
money.yandex.ru wirecard.com truemoney.com xsolla.com
myshopify.com/admin payza.com 2checkout.com 3dcart.com
paysafecard.com weebly.com    


Gaming activity value

origin.com steampowered.com g2a.com twitch.tv
nichegamer.com techraptor.net gematsu.com estructoid.com
pcgamer.com gamefaqs.gamespot.com gamespot.com siliconera.com
rockpapershotgun.com gameinformer.com decluttr.com glyde.com
gamestop.com microsoft.com/account/xboxlive playstation.com/en-us/network/store nintendo.com/games
gog.com game.co.uk itch.io gamefly.com
greenmangaming.com gaming.youtube.com    

Cryptocurrency value

etoro.com 24option.com puatrack.com/coinbull2/ luno.com
paxforex.com binance.com coinbase.com cex.io
changelly.com coinmama.com xtrade.ae capital.com
paxful.com kraken.com poloniex.com gemini.com
bithumb.com xcoins.io cobinhood.com coincheck.com
coinexchange.io shapeshift.io bitso.com indacoin.com
cityindex.co.uk bitbay.net bitstamp.net cryptopia.co.nz
pro.coinbase.com kucoin.com bitpanda.com foxbit.com.br
bitflyer.com bitfinex.com bit-z.com quadrigacx.com
quadrigacx.com big.one lakebtc.com wex.nz
kuna.io yobit.io zebpay.com hitbtc.com
bx.in.th trezor.io electrum.org blockchain.com
crypto.robinhood.com exodus.io mycelium.com bitcointalk.org
btc-e.com moonbit.co.in bitcoinaliens.com bitcoinwisdom.com
coindesk.com cointelegraph.com ccn.com reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/
bitcoin.org/en/blog newsbtc.com blog.spectrocoin.com blog.coinbase.com
bitcoinist.com forklog.com abitcoinc.com bitcoin.stackexchange.com
news.bitcoin.com blog.bitfinex.com blog.genesis-mining.com  


Instagram activity

instagram.com m.instagram.com


Facebook activity

facebook.com m.facebook.com


Youtube activity

youtube.com m.youtube.com


Google+ activity

plus.google.com m.plus.google.com


Gmail activity

gmail.com mail.google.com


Shopping activity

boohoo.com gymshark.com mail.google.com prettylittlething.com
showpo.com athleta.com ae.com ruelala.com
asos.com superdry.com zaful.com zafulswimwear.com
luckybrand.com forever21.com urbanoutfitters.com nastygal.com
jcrew.com anthropologie.com allsaints.com uniqlo.com
armaniexchange.com fashionnova.com saksoff5th.com target.com
macys.com barneys.com zappos.com sneakersnstuff.com
yoox.com nike.com simmi.com amazon.com
ebay.com walmart.com newegg.com bestbuy.com
ftd.com 1800flowers.com glossier.com sephora.com
thebodyshop.com ulta.com horchow.com homedepot.com
pier1.com bedbathandbeyond.com wayfair.com shoptiques.com
viator.com etsy.com cloud9living.com seatgeek.com
aliexpress.com alibaba.com    


Business value

linkedin.com twitter.com nasdaq.com ft.com
reuters.com nyse.com tsx.com marketwatch.com
thestreet.com wsj.com investing.com investopedia.com
finance.yahoo.com seekingalpha.com fool.com investorguide.com
zacks.com home.saxo forexbrokers.com swissquote.com
cmcmarkets.com fxpro.co.uk forex.com dukascopy.com
interactivebrokers.com tdameritrade.com bankofinternet.com ally.com
bankpurely.com redneck.bank    


Saefko also collects additional user application data, including:

Command Description
irc_channel IRC channel name
irc_nickname Nickname
irc_password IRC channel Password
irc_port IRC Port for communication to a server
irc_server Server name
machine_active_time System uptime
machine_artct Machine Architecture
machine_bitcoin_value Number of cryptocurrency sites visited by the user
machine_business_value Number of business sites visited by the user
machine_calls_activity 0
machine_camera_activity No. of “.png” files present on the desktop
machine_country_iso_code Country code fetch from “ipinfo.io/geo”
machine_lat latitude
machine_lng longitude
machine_creadit_card_posiblty Checks the number of payment sites visited by the user
machine_current_time Taking machine current time
machine_facebook_activity Checks the number of times the user visited facebook
machine_gaming_value Checks the number of times the user visited gaming websites
machine_gmail_avtivity Checks the number of times the user visited gmail
machine_googleplus_activity Checks the number of times the user visited google+
machine_instgram_activty Checks the number of times the user visited Instagram
machine_ip Machine IP
machine_lat The geographic location of the system (latitude)
machine_lng The geographic location of the system (longitude)
machine_os_type 1
machine_screenshot Captures screenshot and encode it in base 64
machine_shooping_activity Checks number of times shopping sites visit by the user


The RAT sends the collected data to a command and control server as shown below:

After getting an "ok" response from the server, Saefko begins the "StartServices" function, which has four different infection modules:

  • HTTPClinet
  • IRCHelper
  • KEYLogger
  • StartLocalServices (USB spreading)

HTTP Clinet

(Possible misspelling of HTTP Client by the author)

The RAT sends a request to the server, requesting for a new task. It sends a command “UpdateAndGetTask” and also sends other information, including machine_ID, machine_os, and privateip, as shown below:

The task is the URL from which the malware downloaded the new payload and executed it on the infected machine.

Key Logger

The malware uses the SetWindowsHookEx API for capturing keystrokes. It stores the captured keystrokes into a “log.txt” file. The filepath is: “\%AppData%\Local\log.txt.”

IRC Helper

First, the malware disconnects the current IRC connection. Then, it sends status information to the C&C as shown below:

  • pass: password
  • command: UpdateHTTPIRCStatus
  • machine_id: unique id sent by C&C in an earlier request
  • irc_status: 1 

Next malware fetch 

  • Serverlist: it selects a server from the list below.
  • Port: port 
  • Nickname: generates a random 7 character name 

List of IRC servers and ports

IRC server Port IRC server Port
irc.afterx.net 6667 irc.cyanide-x.net 6667
chat.freenode.net 6667 irc.europnet.org 6667
irc.azzurra.org 6669 irc.rizon.net 6669
irc.dal.net 6667 irc.efnet.org 6667
irc.gamesurge.net 6667 open.ircnet.net 6669
irc.quakenet.org 6667 irc.swiftirc.net 6667
eu.undernet.org 6667 irc.webchat.org 7000
irc.2600.net 6667 irc.abjects.net 6669
irc.accessirc.net 6667 irc.afternet.org 6667
irc.data.lt 6667 irc.allnetwork.org 6667
irc.alphachat.net 6667 irc.austnet.org 6667
irc.axenet.org 6667 irc.ayochat.or.id 6667
irc.beyondirc.net 6669 irc.blitzed.org 6667
irc.bongster.org 6669 irc.caelestia.net 6667
irc.canternet.org 6667 irc.chatall.org 6669
irc.chatcafe.net 6667 irc.chatspike.net 6667
irc.chatzona.org 6667 irc.criten.net 6667
irc.cyberarmy.net 6667 irc.d-t-net.de 6667
irc.darkmyst.org 6667 irc.deepspace.org 6667
irc.dream-irc.de 6667 irc.drlnet.com 6667
irc.dynastynet.net 6667 irc.echo.com 6667
irc.ecnet.org 6667 irc.enterthegame.com 6667
irc.epiknet.org 6667 irc.esper.net 6667
irc.euirc.net 6669 irc.evolu.net 6667
irc.explosionirc.net 6667 irc.fdfnet.net 6668
irc.fef.net 6667    


Saefko connects to one of these servers and waits for a response. In the response, it checks for “T_T” string and any separate messages using that string. Below is the list of IRC functions that the RAT can perform. According to the command it receives, Saefko will respond with corresponding data.

List of IRC Commands

IRC Command Description
dexe Download a file from a given URL and execute it
hdexe Download a file from a given URL and execute it (UseShellExecute=false)
vistpage Open URL
hvistpage Open URL (UseShellExecute = false)

Captures video frame, converts into Base64 and sends to C&C (Detailed information explained below); also replies “.oksnapshot”

shell Executes command using cmd.exe
tcp Makes a tcp connection using a given IP and port.

Send system information:

OS type: Microsoft windows

OS version: OS version

OS Username: username

OS MachineName: System name

OS SystemDirectory: System Directory

opencd Open CDROM drive. Command: set CDAudio door open
closecd Close CDROM drive. Command: set CDAudio door closed
screenshot Capture screenshot, encode it into Base64 and send to C&C
ping Reply “okping”

Gets the video devices from the system and sends information to the C&C.Detailed information explained below.

pwd Current directory

Gets the system location using “https://ipinfo.io/geo”

IP, city, region, country, latitude and longitude

keylogs Encode the keylog file (log.txt) using base64 and send it to C&C
uninstall Delete the autostart registry key (RUN) and terminate itself.



Saefko also searches for the following payloads in the system:

  • AForge.dll
  • AForge.Video.DirectShow.dll
  • AForge.Video.dll
  • Sqlite3.dll

If these files are not present, the malware sends a request to the C&C to download these files. Next, it searches for a list of video input devices on the targeted system and sends the related information to the C&C.


Saefko also captures videos from the device present on the system, encodes the video frame with Base64 and sends it to the C&C.

Start USB Service

Saefko checks to see if the drive type is either removable or networked, after which it starts the infection and copies the files below onto a removable drive.

  • Sas.exe
  • USBStart.exe
  • usbspread.vbs

Sas.exe is a copy of the malware itself. USBStart.exe is fetched from the resource section of the main binary. It contains code to execute Sas.exe. It creates a usbspread.vbs file then executes it. It searches every directory and all the files and creates a "lnk" file for each file and directory with a target path USBStart.exe file. When the removable device is plugged in any other system, the user is tricked into clicking a lnk file as the main files and folder are hidden. Lnk file executes the USBStart.exe that ends up executing Sas.exe which is the main payload. So it futher infect other Systems.

Below is the code of the usbspread.vbs file:

One online forum has an ad for a cracked Saefko RAT tool as shown below. It is a multi-protocol, multi-operating system remote administration tool that can be used to launch the malware on Windows and Android devices.



To protect systems from RATs, users must refrain from downloading programs or opening attachments that aren't from a trusted source. At the administrative level, it's always a good idea to block unused ports, turn off unused services, and monitor outgoing traffic. Attackers are often careful to prevent the malware from doing too much activity at once, which would slow down the system and possibly attract the attention of the user and IT.

Zscaler ThreatLabZ team continues to monitor this threat and others to ensure that Zscaler customers are protected.



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