Monday, February 24, 2014

Case Study: How legitimate internet services like Amazon AWS, DropBox, Google Project/Code & ShortURL got abused to infect malware

Today, I almost went to bed when bumping into this threat. Please kindly bear the sleepy eyes on writing these. I am combining the screenshot and log/details in texts, hopefully there will be no filtration product would block this post for a bit of URL's paste.

This writing contains many points that are important information for fellow friends and the mentioned public services to be aware of being abused by this malware infection session. So I wrote this as fast as possible and leaving payload binary analysis and exploit analysis in a rain check. To anyone who can help to contact the related abuse, is very highly appreciated.

Infection Source:

First of all. The source of infection is the malware infection code/scripts that was implemented in the below IP and domain, located in OVH network, in France, I really hope to have help from France friends to clean this IP from any malware infector toolkits installed:

Secondly, the infector, is starting from Japan's IP under domain: shortening .biz

This needs to be cleaned up too, yet I think there are more infectors exist..

The background

It started when checking a suspicious URL, accessed it in the browser as per below:

I regenerated with the separate scheme to record the below log (for the source of infection details purpose), just to make sure that we had everything in our hands:

--2014-02-24 02:40:02--  h00p://shortening .biz/qnwr
Caching =>
Connecting to||:80... connected.
GET /qnwr HTTP/1.1
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2014 17:40:03 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.42 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.31 OpenSSL/0.9.8e
Keep-Alive: timeout=5, max=19
Connection: Keep-Alive
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
301 Moved Permanently
Registered socket 4 for persistent reuse.
Location: [following]
Skipping 302 bytes of body: [
301 Moved Permanently
Moved Permanently
The document has moved (A HREF="h00p://shortening .biz/qnwr/")here(/A)
Apache/1.3.42 Server at Port 80
] done.
--2014-02-24 02:40:03--  h00p://shortening .biz/qnwr/
GET /qnwr/ HTTP/1.1
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2014 17:40:03 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.42 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.8.31 OpenSSL/0.9.8e
Last-Modified: Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:54:18 GMT
ETag: "1135-52e12d1a"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 4405
Keep-Alive: timeout=5, max=19
Connection: Keep-Alive
Content-Type: text/html
200 OK
Length: 4405 (4.3K) [text/html]
Saving to: ‘sample.mmd’
100%[=======================================================>] 4,405       --.-K/s   in 0.009s  
2014-02-24 02:40:03 (459 KB/s) - ‘sample.mmd’ saved [4405/4405]
Back to the browser, in the short while the browser's address bar flickering to the redirection URL as per below:

And this act is confirmed by the series of the html tag meta refresh code grepped below:

What happened next? I was being forwarded into a page with video of "a lady in the bed" as per captured below:

I just about to praise on how fortunate I am.. but the video soon got stopped and the warning message came up with popping the download of the Flash Player Setup.. as per shown below:

The Path to Payload

Back to the shell, I simulated the download page for evidence:

And that was giving me the below script actually:

And now we know why I got that redirection, the (the very bottom link) is serving the infection landing page and I was redirected into it. Will explain this later on. And there are other conditions for another redirection, for the mobile access and Opera browser in the GOO.GL short URL. Anyway if we extract those Short URL for Mobile and Opera browser we'll find the better image:

(I will have to leave other friends to check those two links deeper..)
The further research in the blacklisted URL found the below Amazon AWS abused account (sorted by history) by the same threat:

And this is the malware file downloaded if you are matching to the desired condition:

Now this payload is well detected by AV industry as per shown in VirusTotal result here-->>[link]
If you run the payload you will get the query and response in HTTP as follows:

And this payload is downloading a "config" with the info on hash and URL of another malware, as per shown here:

Here's that "guncel.exe" malware download session in my shell..a simple wget will do..This could be the updates or sort of.

This is the VirusTotal report of the "guncel.exe", is the same file as original payload, it is also as an evidence explaining that the origin of the payload is (>>[link], the detection rates as the VBA basis Trojan Downloader is not so bad after all, good work.

Below is interesting trace of what this malware did in the memory:

This is just some traces of VBA calls used..(during the creation of registry key)

Quick analysis that might help fellow researchers and infected victims:

The payload will download the background.js JavaScript w/URL planted in the binary, as per traffic below:

Which is having the script as I pasted here-->>[link]
↑You can see clearly the malicious traffic redirection scheme and access URL to the landing page (origin of the infection), in that script..

The next traffic will explain how this background.js is called, the file manifest.json was downloaded, it contains the script to show how background.js is executed by setting several security privileges for the execution of the script itself..

You can see the effort to fake "Google Shockwave Player" (any such product??) upon the execution of background.js above? Things are starting to make much sense on why so many Google related "images" are used here.

PS: I will add some more reversing notes later on, but shall we move on a bit..too little time..for there are more important parts to cover..

What happened if we simulate the landing page access in shell is something like this:

GET /s/pwuh8wdutwot4dg/rezillik.html HTTP/1.1
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
accept-ranges: bytes
cache-control: max-age=0
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 2014 21:01:55 GMT
etag: 2n
pragma: public
Server: nginx
x-dropbox-request-id: ecd60af812734360278c876a87176a00
X-RequestId: 6f612d52e7e3c0e526aa4b355328e047
x-server-response-time: 202
Content-Length: 6841
Connection: keep-alive
---response end---
200 OK
Registered socket 4 for persistent reuse.
Length: 6841 (6.7K) [text/html]
Saving to: ‘sample4.mmd’
How I got the payload being downloaded then?? Let's see the code inside the page. Well..It seems like I got hit by the timer function stated by this code:

The Google short URL is again being used to hide the real malware payload URL which is served in the Google Code SVN download!!

The download log can be seen in the follow up section..

Well..the bad guy behind this is really trying hard to convince victim about the Google kind of application is installed :-)

Some reversing & investigation notes

I used recent sample in an abused Google Code SVN here:

The sample is in VT here-->[link]

Straight to the point: A reversing effort showing the CNC masked in binary strings:

The User Name :-))

Maybe we'll need these later, just in case, noted:

"key": "MIGfMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA4GNADCBiQKBgQCtl3tO0osjuzRsf6xtD2SKxPlTfuoy7AWoObysitBPvH5fE1NaAA1/2JkPWkVDhdLBWLaIBPYeXbzlHp3y4Vv/4XG+aN5qFE3z+1RU/NqkzVYHtIpVScf3DjTYtKVL66mzVGijSoAIwbFCC3LpGdaoe6Q1rSRD

Next. Following the trails of that CnC URL, to find the junk used:

Now we can see the code clearly, instead of the PCAP data :-D
See the dates well, the crook was recently modifying the background.js malicious script.
It has the background.js and manifest.json code snipped below:

As per explained way up above, the JSON is used for execution of background.js. We didn't have a a chance to disclose background.js clearly before, so this is it, a fresh one. First, the beautified full code of the bakcground.js is:

If you see what I see, the attacker is aiming Google Chrome browser, by abusing its API (chrome.tabs) to interact with the browser's tab system. You can use this API to create, modify, and rearrange tabs in the browser. Anyway, what he did is on "devtools://" index/tab, he programmed to execute remote script via chrome.tabs.executeScript command to www.saatlikrapor .com/ext/s.php, which this was BAD (gone now-->link and link) in . Either this crook loves Google so much or hates Google that much.. since now we know he is aiming Google chrome browser's end user too.

PS: The domain is hidden behind cloudfare:

;          IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:   300     IN      CNAME       300     IN      A       300     IN      A

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:       3600    IN      NS      ""       3600    IN      NS      ""

;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: 384     IN      A 371     IN      A
This is the domain information, a shiny brand new one:
   Registrar: DOMAINSITE, INC.
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Updated Date: 25-feb-2014
   Creation Date: 25-feb-2014
   Expiration Date: 25-feb-2015

Registrar: DomainSite, Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 466
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.17202492374
Domain Status: addPeriod
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Registrant Name: Whois Agent
Registrant Organization: Whois Privacy Protection Service, Inc.
And how about the CnC used? ; SAME pattern! :-) behind cloudflare..
;       IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION: 300    IN      A 300    IN      A

;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 3600   IN      NS      "" 3600   IN      NS      ""

;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: 3462    IN      A 3483    IN      A
And under below registration details:
   Whois Server:
   Referral URL:
   Status: ok
   Updated Date: 12-jan-2014
   Creation Date: 07-jun-2013
   Expiration Date: 07-jun-2014
We will have to deal with the Turkish law enforcement to nail this guy for good:
CREATE DATE: 6/7/2013 11:59:57 AM
UPDATED DATE: 1/12/2014 3:25:26 PM
EXPIRATION DATE: 6/7/2014 11:59:57 AM

owner-organization:Whois Privacy Protection Service.
No, no, it is NOT a hacking site: (Pls don't give me that preach..)
$ curl
$ curl
$ date
Fri Feb 28 10:10:36 JST 2014


The domain of WJETPHP.COM which was informed in the top section as the "payload center" (red: CNC) also still alive now with the below details:

$ dig WJETPHP.COM any

; <<>> DiG 9.8.5-P1 <<>> WJETPHP.COM any
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 542
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 4, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0


WJETPHP.COM.  21599 IN NS "mary.ns.cloudflare.COM."
WJETPHP.COM.  21599 IN NS "todd.ns.cloudflare.COM."
WJETPHP.COM.  21599 IN SOA mary.ns.cloudflare.COM. dns.cloudflare.COM. 2014501676 10000 2400 604800 3600

;; Query time: 277 msec
;; WHEN: Sun Mar 09 04:12:37 JST 2014
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 137
As you see, he is still hiding his service behind the cloud flare until now (read: cloud flare's customer).

Moreover, the ownership of the domains:

Domain Name: WJETPHP.COM
Registrar: FBS INC.
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 01-feb-2014
Creation Date: 24-may-2013
Expiration Date: 24-may-2014
>>> Last update of whois database: Sat, 08 Mar 2014 19:17:39 UTC <<<

Domain Name: WJETPHP.COM
Registry Domain ID:
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Updated Date: 24-Jul-2013
Creation Date: 24-May-2013
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 24-May-2014
Registrar: FBS Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 1110
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +902163299393
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited

URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System:
>>>Last update of WHOIS database: 2014-03-08T19:18:12+0000Z<<<
Registration Service Provided By: WWW.ISIMTESCIL.NET


How to conclude this matter generally? Obviously the public well-known internet services was targeted to spread this infection. Let me describe how many of those abused services spotted in this single case:
Number one, (property of Amazon AWS) is utilised by this actor for the etc bad purpose scheme (see the mobile link and Opera browser link on the above explanation, whatever it is, is not a good thing), we'd better warn Amazon AWS for this link.
Number two is, (property of Dropbox, Inc) is also utilised to serve payload malware.
Is that all? No. Number three: see the domain in payload URL,, it is the abuse of Google Code's SVN facility.
More? Yes, the last one, number four, service, the Google ShortURL is also abused to hide the URL of the malware payload.

The Google code is being abused to serve malware payloads of this threat's series for quite a while, you can view the reports posted by our friend ‏@sarimura (twitter) to the Project Hosting on Google Code in Google groups-->[here]. It shows how persistent the malware actor to always create a new google project and to use its download URL to serve the malware payloads. On the other hand it shows that the bad actor(s) is leaving many traces in Google Code servers during uploading the payloads (account ID, IP addresses, etc).. a hint to follow isn't it?


I share all sample, under usual password, click the picture below to download:

Moral of the story: Our beloved internet and its services are badly abuse by malware. Stay safe please!
PS: Comments and additional are to be added in follow up section! And it looks like this threat is bigger than expected so I could't sleep again, gotta go to day work now!

Updates: How bad the abuse & this malvertisement is?

The bad actor is keep on changing users in AmazonAWS and Google code to serve the next malicious payload.The new abused AmazonAWS page is:
unluvideolari.s3.amazonaws .com/unlu.html URLQuery-->[link]

PoC of how bad the malware download is:

Another PoC:

The recent Google Code SVN that's being abused:

Google set a good work-around by 401 authentication:

Or the 403:

Now Emerging Threat is releasing a signature that can be used to identify this malware download:

Update Info Credit: @sarimura (twitter), signature: Emerging Threat & @node5 (twitter), test & checks: @urlquery (twitter), thank's to Google to keep on nuking down the bad accounts and nice stats of the sort URL.

Follow Up

Great follow, thank's for always fast in responses!