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Security Research

PurpleWave—A New Infostealer from Russia

August 14, 2020 - 8 min read

Infostealer is one of the most profitable tools for cybercriminals, as information gathered from systems infected with this malware could be sold in the cybercrime underground or used for credential stuffing attacks. The Zscaler ThreatLabZ team came across a new Infostealer called PurpleWave, which is written in C++ and silently installs itself onto a user’s system. It connects to a command and control (C&C) server to send system information and installs new malware onto the infected system.

The author of this malware is advertising and selling PurpleWave stealer on Russian cybercrime forums for 5,000 RUB (US$68) with lifetime updates and 4,000 RUB (US$54) with only two updates.

PurpleWave selling post on the Russian forum

Figure 1: A PurpleWave selling post on a Russian forum.

The author selling PurpleWave claims that this stealer is capable of stealing passwords, cookies, cards, and autofill forms of Chromium and Mozilla browsers. This stealer also collects files from the specified path, takes screenshots, and installs additional modules.

The capabilities of the PurpleWave stealer include:

  • Stealing passwords, cookies, cards, autofill(s) data, browser history from Chromium and Mozilla.
  • Collecting files from the specified path
  • Capturing the screen
  • Stealing system information
  • Stealing Telegram session files
  • Stealing Steam application data
  • Stealing Electrum wallet data
  • Loading and executing additional module/malware

PurpleWave Login Panel

Figure 2: The PurpleWave login panel.

The author also built a dashboard where the attacker can keep an eye on the infection counts according to dates, access the stolen logs of infected machines, and change the malware configuration settings.

PurpleWave Infection dashboard

Figure 3: The PurpleWave infection dashboard.

The dashboard also provides the attacker with the ability to customize the configuration of the PurpleWave stealer.

Dashboard for customizing PurpleWave configuration

Figure 4: The dashboard for customizing the PurpleWave configuration.


Technical analysis

Upon execution of the PurpleWave binary, it gives a fake error message in the Russian language that can be customized by the attacker in their panel. But in the background, it performs all of its malicious activities.

Fake error message (translated:Memory control blocks damaged)

Figure 5: The fake error message in Russian. (It translates to: Memory control blocks damaged.)

The name of the stealer (PurpleWave) and the version (1.0) are hardcoded and encrypted in the binary. Most of the strings in the binary are encrypted, but they get decrypted on runtime with the help of the decryption loop present in the binary (shown in Figure 6).

Common Decryption function for encrypted strings in binary

Figure 6: The common decryption function for the encrypted strings in the binary.

The PurpleWave binary creates a mutex with the name “MutexCantRepeatThis” to avoid multiple executions of malware instances. After that, it sends the HTTP POST request with the custom header and body to the C&C URL to get the configuration data.

Sending request to get the config data

Figure 7: Sending request to the C&C server to get the config data.

It creates an HTTP request header with content type as “form-data”. The boundary is assigned with “boundaryaswell” to act as a marker and user agent is set with “app”. It creates a request body with a form name as “id” and the value assigned to it is 1.

Request with custom header and body to get the configuration

Figure 8: The configuration request with the custom header and body.

The received data contains the customized configuration, which may change per the binary. We have observed three different configurations and different hosts of the PurpleWave binaries.

Configuration from different PurpleWave binaries

Figure 9: The configuration from different PurpleWave binaries.

dirs - It consists of directory information from which files to be collected.
fake - It has the fake alert message to be shown to the user on execution.
loaders - It consists of an additional module name to be installed on the infected system.

For Config-2, PurpleWave will traverse path “%userprofile%/Desktop” and collect the files having extensions txt, doc and docx. In Config-3, it will not collect any files but it has a module named “Kv2TDW4O” in the loaders, which will get downloaded and executed on the system.

Installing additional modules

For installing additional modules mentioned in the received configuration (Config-3), PurpleWave again creates an HTTP POST request with the same headers mentioned in the previous request to the C&C host followed by “/loader/module_name”.

Request to download additional module

Figure 10: The request to download an additional module.

PurpleWave enumerates the loaders list from a JSON configuration, downloads the module name from the C&C server and stores it in %appdata% directory, then executes it.

Downloading and executing additional modules

Figure 11: Downloading and executing additional modules.

The downloaded module that we observed in some PurpleWave binary is the Electrum wallet stealer, which is written in .NET and capable of stealing Electrum wallet data from the infected system.

Collecting Electrum wallet data

Figure 12: Collecting Electrum wallet data.


Data stealing

PurpleWave is capable of stealing credentials, autofills data, card data, cookies, and browser history from Chromium and Mozilla.

For Chromium browsers, it fetches the login credentials from “\%AppData%\Local\{Browser}\User Data\Default\Login Data”, cookies from “\%AppData%\Local\{Browser}\User Data\Default\Cookies”, and other information, such as autofills data, card data, and browser history, from “\%AppData%\Local\{Browser}\User Data\Default\Web Data”.

Stealing Browser’s data

Figure 13: Stealing browser data.

The stolen browser info is collected in the form of a form-data field with the names shown below followed by their value.
Username - browser[BrowserName][passwords][index][login]
Password - browser[BrowserName][passwords][index][password]
Stolen Browser info

Figure 14: Stolen browser information.

Along with the browser’s data, the stealer captures the current screen and appends it to the browser's stolen data in the form-data with the filename as “screenshot.png”.

Captured Screenshot

Figure 15: A captured screenshot.

After that, it collects all the information about infected systems, such as operating system, CPU info, GPU info, machine GUID, username, machine name, and more.

Collected system info

Figure 16: The system information collected by PurpleWave.

The stealer also collects the SSFN files from the Steam application. The Steam application is used for playing, discussing, and creating games. The SSFN file exists to verify the users each time they login to their Steam account. It fetches the Steam path from the registry “Software\\Valve\\Steam” and reads all the SSFN files stored into the config directory.

PurpleWave also steals session-related files from the Telegram application. It reads the value of the default key in the system registry branch “HKCU\Software\Classes\tdesktop.tg\DefaultIcon” to obtain a path of Telegram and collects all the files starts with “map” in the “D877F783D5D3EF8C” directory.

Collecting Steam data and Telegram data

Figure 17: Collecting Steam and Telegram data.

PurpleWave merges all the collected file data, browser data, screenshots, Steam data, Telegram data, and system info, then sends it to a C&C server using an HTTP POST request.

Sending stolen data to C&C server

Figure 18: Sending stolen data to C&C server



The observed indicators in this attack were successfully blocked by the Zscaler Cloud Sandbox.

The Zscaler Cloud Sandbox report for the PurpleWave Stealer

Figure 19: The Zscaler Cloud Sandbox report for PurpleWave.

In addition to sandbox detections, Zscaler’s multilayered cloud security platform detects indicators at various levels. The following advanced threat protection signatures have been released for detecting the malware:


Zscaler believes that PurpleWave represents an active and ongoing threat, as the C&C servers are still alive and responding as of this writing. The malware also still appears to be available for purchase on the black market. PurpleWave has incredible potential to steal sensitive information. The malware is in the early stages of development, with the author likely to enhance its stealing capabilities and add more features. We will continue to keep track of this threat to ensure coverage.

MITRE ATT&CK™ tactic and technique mapping

Tactic                    Technique
T1083                    File and directory discovery
T1082                    System information discovery
T1033                    System user discovery
T1124                    System time discovery
T1016                    System network configuration discovery
T1020                    Automated exfiltration
T1041                    Exfiltration over C&C channel
T1071                    Uses web protocols
T1105                    Downloads additional files
T1555                    Credentials from web browsers
T1539                    Steal web session cookies
T1005                    Data from local system
T1113                    Screen capture

Indicators of Compromise (IOCs)




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