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Security Research

The Latest Cloud Hosting Service to Serve Malware

September 19, 2018 - 6 min read

In recent years, there have been many studies related to compromised cloud hosting services.

It has been reported that these services are increasingly being abused by hackers and malware authors for their malicious online activities. The services enable bad actors to open an inexpensive hosting account, allowing them to hide malicious content in the cloud-based domains of well-known brands, mixing the bad content among the good to prevent the malware from being blocked.

In its research, the Zscaler ThreatLabz team discovered that a popular managed cloud hosting service provider called “Cogeco Peer 1” has been serving phishing attacks and other malware in the wild as far back as February 2018. One of the domains hosted by this service provider, called “flexsel[.]ca,” is distributing a malicious document that installs a crypto-wallet stealer on victims’ machines. Other Cogeco Peer 1 domains are serving various phishing attacks using fake logins for Microsoft, DocuSign, and banking sites. 

The below image of hosting IP [64[.]34[.]67[.]205] information shows some of the domains affected by this campaign.


Figure 1: Domains affected by the campaign

The Whois information related to the hosting IP address is as follows:


Figure 2: Whois information on hosting IP address

In this blog, we will provide a technical analysis of two types of attacks served by this campaign in August 2018.

1. Multi crypto-wallet stealer payload delivered through malicious document

2. Microsoft and DocuSign phishing attack

Multi crypto-wallet stealer payload delivered through malicious document:

The crypto-wallet stealers are not new to the information security industry, but we have seen a dramatic increase in their use recently. We found that the domain “http[:]//flexsell[.]ca/,” which is hosted on 64[.]34[.]67[.]205, distributed a malicious document to users during the second week of August 2018. This malicious document downloads and installs a payload with the ability to steal stored crypto-wallets from user machines.

Download link: flexsel[.]ca/myresume/resume_ahmadhammouz[.]doc

Zscaler spotted and blocked this threat over the past two weeks, as shown below:


Figure 3: Unique instances of the malicious document and the final payload downloads as seen by Zscaler

Technical details:

The document, called “resume_ahmadhammouz[.]doc,” has a malicious macro which is executed when the document is opened. It further downloads and executes a crypto-wallet stealer payload on the victim’s machine. This payload tries to steal stored cryptocurrency wallet information, targeting Bitcoin, Electrum, and Monero cryptocurrency wallets.

The obfuscated malicious VB code in the document file is shown below. It initiates an HTTP request to the hardcoded download path of the wallet stealer binary without user intervention.


Figure 4: Obfuscated malicious VB code in the document file

The below Wireshark image shows the payload download on the victim’s machine. 


Figure 5: Wireshark screen capture showing download of malicious payload

This malware variant is custom packed. It decrypts and loads an actual wallet stealer file (Borland Delphi compiled) on runtime. Upon execution, the malware collects basic system information, including machine ID, EXE_PATH, Windows, computer (username), screen, layouts, local time, and CPU model. The collected information is sent to a C&C server, which is hardcoded in the file as shown below.


Figure 6: Calls to C&C server

The encrypted POST communication to the C&C server is shown below.



Figure 7: Post-infection communication to the C&C server

The wallet stealer malware searches for the default location of the digital wallet stored on the infected machine, along with browser cookies and login details of popular applications like Pidgin, WinSCP, and Psi+. The following digital wallet files are hunted on a victim’s machine.


Figure 8: Digital wallet files types searched for by malware

The information stored in digital wallet data files includes:

  • mbhd.yaml – Contains general preferences and configuration information (theme, exchange, etc.)
  • mbhd.checkpoints – A Bitcoin checkpoints file, used when syncing your wallet
  • mbhd.spvchain – A Bitcoin block store, used when syncing your wallet

Microsoft and DocuSign Phishing attack:

After exploit kits, phishing is the one of the most significant threats to individuals and organizations today. The dynamic nature of the domains that serve phishing pages, along with the easy hosting features provided by cloud services, magnifies these types of internet attacks.

The Microsoft and DocuSign phishing pages seen in the wild on August 29, 2018, are shown below.


Figure 9: Microsoft and DocuSign phishing pages seen on August 29

The fake Microsoft phishing page image is shown below.


Figure 10: Fake Microsoft phishing page

The DocuSign phishing attack is a tactic used to persuade computer users to enter their account credentials on a fake DocuSign login page. These stolen credentials are used by the attacker to carry out various malicious activities; as a result, the victim’s machine can be infected by other malware.

The following image shows the fake DocuSign login page:


Figure 11: Fake DocuSign login page


This report covers just one of the active and compromised cloud repositories and the illicit online activities built around it, though these types of attacks have become increasingly common. As individuals and organizations gravitate towards cloud computing, attackers are motivated to host malicious content in the cloud. It is extremely important for cloud hosting service providers to be vigilant in identifying and mitigating attacks on their repositories.

Zscaler ThreatLabz is monitoring such threats and will continue to ensure coverage for Zscaler customers. The Zscaler Cloud Sandbox report for a sample payload from this campaign is shown below.


Figure 12: Zscaler Cloud Sandbox report on blocked malicious document in the crypto-wallet stealer campaign



































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