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Security Research

Chinese Government Website Compromised, Leads To Angler

November 03, 2015 - 5 min read


Despite a recent takedown targeting the Angler Exploit Kit (EK), it's back to business as usual for kit operators. On 30-October-2015, ThreatLabZ noticed a compromised Chinese government website that led to the Angler Exploit Kit with an end payload of Cryptowall 3.0. This compromise does not appear targeted and the compromised site was cleaned up within 24 hours. We have noticed some recent changes to Angler, as well as the inclusion of newer Flash exploits. A set of indicators for this compromise is at the end of this post.

Compromised Site

The "Chuxiong Archives" website, www.cxda[.], was compromised with injected code. The site has a similar look and feel to both the Chuxiong Yi Prefecture and Chuxiong City websites and appears somewhat inactive, but surprisingly the site was remediated in less than 24 hours. The full infection cycle from compromised site to encrypted payload is shown in the fiddler session below.
Fig 1. Infection cycle
The injected code was before the opening HTML tag and was heavily obfuscated. The code, shown below, is very similar to other recent compromises we've observed and was present on every page of the site, suggesting a complete site compromise.
Fig 2. Injected script
Consistent with other recent examples, the injected code appears to target Internet Explorer (IE) since Firefox and Chrome consistently throw errors when attempting to execute the code and no redirection occurs. IE has no issues executing the code, however, which unsurprisingly decodes to an iframe leading to an Angler EK landing page:
Fig 3. Decoded injected code
While we did not have access to the server-side code, it likely retrieves landing page URLs from a remote server since we observed iframes leading to multiple different Angler domains within a brief period of time.

Landing Page

The landing page for Angler is immediately recognizable, but with some notable recent changes. For example, instead of using a long block of around seven-character long strings inside divs tag, the newer landing pages use 'li' tags and most of the strings are only about two characters long. Additionally, there's a conspicuous 'triggerApi' function toward the top of the main script block:
Fig 4: Short strings and triggerApi function
Outside of these changes, the functionality of the landing page appears unchanged, and the goal is naturally to serve up a malicious SWF:
Fig 5. Decoded landing page SWF objects

Malicious SWF - CVE-2015-7645

Kafeine already broke the news that Angler is exploiting Flash, and we can corroborate that with the samples we've observed.
Fig 6. Flash being exploited
In fact, we compared the sample from his recent post with one obtained from this infection and the structure is identical, with very few changes in the actionscript. The biggest change we saw was in the embedded binary data.
Fig 7. SWF structure, 30-Oct sample on the left, Kafeine's sample on the right
Fig 8. Comparison of binary data, 30-Oct sample on the left, Kafeine's sample on the right
Upon successful exploit cycle, a new CryptoWall 3.0 variant from the crypt13 campaign is downloaded and installed on the target machine. The image below shows a decrypted Command & Control (C&C) communication message from the CryptoWall variant which also contains the total number of files encrypted on the target system:
Fig 9. CryptoWall 3.0 C&C message reporting encrypted file count

Final Thoughts

As stated, this seems to be business as usual for Angler EK operators. While these attacks were not targeted in nature, this is the first instance where we saw EK operators leveraging a government site to target end users. One interesting observation is that we no longer see any Diffie-Helman POST exchange to prevent replaying captured sessions for offline analysis. Additionally, there was a much larger number of C&C servers than we've previously observed, and some of the domain names seem to suggest multi-use hosts (e.g.: spam, bitcoin mining, etc). Note that none of the C&C servers are pseudo-randomly generated domains. ThreatLabZ will continue to track new developments with the Angler Exploit Kit.

Indicators of Compromise

DomainIP AddressDescription[.]cn118.123.7.122Chinese government site
erteilend-taendelt.sewnydine[.]com104.129.192.32Angler Domain
repersuasionboldoblique.classactoutlet[.]com104.129.192.32Angler Domain
ayh2m57ruxjtwyd5.stopmigrationss[.]com95.128.181.195Payment Server
ayh2m57ruxjtwyd5.starswarsspecs[.]comfailedPayment Server
ayh2m57ruxjtwyd5.malerstoniska[.]com109.70.26.37, Server
ayh2m57ruxjtwyd5.blindpayallfor[.]com95.128.181.195Payment Server
flat.splo1t[.]ru188.127.239.164C&C connections
sanliurfapastanesi[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
wesalerx[.]xyz46.148.18.100C&C connections
urfakaplanticaret[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
taigastyle[.]ru37.140.192.180C&C connections
flickstudio[.]com103.21.59.22C&C connections
mydaycarewebsite[.]com104.24.102.98, connections
sampiyonvitamin[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
xmest.web-zolotareva[.]ru82.146.36.185C&C connections
aandwrentalspm[.]com142.4.6.13C&C connections
orucogluelektronik[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
gaja24[.]pl91.234.146.241C&C connections
developmysuccess[.]com50.30.46.201C&C connections
20dollarhomebusiness[.]com50.30.46.201C&C connections
rizvanogluhafriyat[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
sanliurfapastanesi[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
newatena[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
stalkerbanget[.]com68.65.120.182C&C connections
primevisionstudio[.]com192.185.206.97C&C connections
i-tem[.]ru62.173.143.242C&C connections
localuzzweb[.]com143.95.32.179C&C connections
getpostivemind[.]com158.85.170.253C&C connections
zemli72.chaukakau[.]ru62.173.143.242C&C connections
grandmedianetwork[.]com111.118.215.77C&C connections
karakoprudugunsalonu[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
sanliurfaparke[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
nsdstudio[.]net192.185.206.97C&C connections
meble-simone[.]eu91.234.146.241C&C connections
vsedveri33[.]ru81.177.165.33C&C connections
osk-wojcikiewicz[.]pl91.234.146.241C&C connections
love-deep[.]com111.118.215.77C&C connections
turizmkirov[.]ru82.146.36.185C&C connections
new.turizmkirov[.]ru82.146.36.185C&C connections
avtoreliv[.]com.ua91.234.34.80C&C connections
localwebsitepro[.]com192.185.41.191C&C connections
makrol[.]net91.234.146.241C&C connections
altopics[.]com111.118.215.77C&C connections
burnfatquicky[.]com184.168.221.57C&C connections
mediaopt33[.]ru81.177.165.33C&C connections
otmanad[.]com91.234.146.241C&C connections
markossolomon[.]com104.27.181.171, connections
kominki-gorlice[.]pl91.234.146.241C&C connections
chaukakau[.]ru62.173.143.242C&C connections
crm.ruhtech[.]com202.160.165.21C&C connections
takas3aya.xsrv[.]jp183.90.232.25C&C connections
famouswhiskybrands[.]com103.21.59.21C&C connections
edwardbrownjr[.]com50.30.46.201C&C connections
avatar77[.]ru62.173.143.242C&C connections
bollywoodupdate[.]net95.173.190.210C&C connections
asiaroyaldeveloper[.]com103.21.59.22C&C connections
asattyres[.]com192.185.206.97C&C connections
records.karika[.]in.ua91.234.34.80C&C connections
ppcprofitz[.]com143.95.32.180C&C connections
ecodeva[.]ru62.173.143.242C&C connections
btcdoubler[.]bizfailedC&C connections
18dollars1time[.]info50.30.46.201C&C connections
urfaeleganceoptik[.]com95.173.190.210C&C connections
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