The NetWiredRC Trojan is a dangerous weapon used against computer users worldwide. It infects mainly via infected software installers. Our article gives an overview of its behavior according to the collected samples and available reports, also it may be helpful in attempting to remove the virus.
|Short Description||The NetWiredRC Trojan is a computer virus that is designed to silently infiltrate computer systems.|
|Symptoms||The victims may not experience any apparent symptoms of infection.|
|Distribution Method||Software Vulnerabilities, Freeware Installations, Bundled Packages, Scripts and others.|
|Detection Tool|| See If Your System Has Been Affected by NetWiredRC Trojan |
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|User Experience||Join Our Forum to Discuss NetWiredRC Trojan.|
NetWiredRC Trojan – Distribution Methods
The NetWiredRC Trojan is a dangerous weapon that is used by the criminal collective known as the APT33 group. It is widely used in attack campaigns that infect target machines mainly via vulnerability exploitation. The Trojan is used as the main payload during the infections. The malware can also be distributed using alternative methods in future campaigns.
The Trojan can be used in email phishing campaigns which is one of the most popular ways to spread malware to victims en-masse. The virus installation scripts will be installed via the built-in body contents. They can contain all kinds of links, pop-ups, redirects and other scripts that can activate the infection. In other cases the Trojan file can be attached directly to the emails.
Advanced forms of Trojan delivery tactics include the setup of the virus infection in file payloads. This means that by interacting with another object that seems legitimate and safe to the victims. There are two popular variants that are used with this technique:
- Infected Documents — This strategy can be used with the macro scripts that are embedded in documents of all popular types: spreadsheets, presentations, databases and text files. Whenever such a file is accessed a notification message will pop-up asking the users to enable them. The quoted reason that is given is to “correctly view” the document.
- Setup Installers — The other tactic depends on the inclusion of the virus installation commands in installers of popular software. The criminals will take the legitimate files from their official sources and modify them accordingly. All popular software can be victims of this tactic: creativity suites, productivity and office tools, system utilities and etc.
These files can also be uploaded to malicious sites which represent fake copies of legitimate services, products or companies. The users might be confused into thinking that they have accessed the real site by using similar sounding domain names and security certificates. These fake portals may even copy the design and body elements which makes it very difficult to tell the two pages apart.
In other cases malicious browser plugins can be used. They are uploaded to the relevant repositories of the browsers with fake user reviews and developer credentials. This is done in order to persuade the visitors into installing them. Usually the descriptions offered include the addition of new features or enhancements. As soon as they are installed the default settings will be changed in order to redirect the users to a hacker-controlled landing page. At the same time the NetWiredRC Trojan will also be deployed, possibly with other malware as well.
NetWiredRC Trojan – Detailed Description
As soon as the NetWiredRC Trojan is launched it will start immediatelyt to infect the victim computer. This is done by dropping a file in the current’s users folder under a temporary location. It will serve as the main local client which will be run at a next step.
The next step is to make sure that a persistent state is maintained. This is done by setting up the appropriate Windows Registry key. The manipulation of the Registry shows that the client is fully capable of creating, modifying and deleting existing entries. This can lead to very serious performance issues with the computer making it unstable. Modifications to services and program entries can make them quit with unexpected errors.
A connection with a hacker-controlled server will then be established allowing the hacker operators to access the compromised machines.
When the connection is established another set of commands will be started that will search for any security software that can block the Trojan installation. Any detected ones will be disabled and entirely removed, this process is referred to as security bypass. It can scan for apps like anti-virus programs, sandbox and debug environments, firewalls and intrusion detection systems. They will be disabled or removed.
What follows is a data harvesting process that has the ability to search for a variety of sensitive information that can be found on the compromised machines. The captured samples were found to acquire the following data:
- Regional Settings and Localization
- Personal Settings
- Windows Version
- Computer Name
- Installed Applications
- Compatability Information
The established connection with the hacker-controlled server allows the spy on the victims, take over control of their machines and steal valuable data. Other malicious behavior that is observed is the timed creation of screenshots at regular intervals. They are sent to the hackers as image files allowing them to monitor the sequence of user interaction. Using this mechanism the NetWiredRC Trojan can also search for sensitive information about the victims themselves. It can be used across a wide rage of crimes: identity theft, financial abuse and blackmail. Information that can be retrieved includes the following: name, address, location, interests, emails and any stored account credentials (username, email and password combinations).
The modular code base on which the Trojan is conceinved allows the hackers to carry out a wide range of commands:
- Identification and password configuration and computer data retrieval
- Process creation from a local file
- File retrieval from a remote URL and process creation
- Stop the running threads
- Removal of the auto-start Registry keys, cleanup and quit
- Identified addition
- Retrieval and sending of hard disk contents
- Files modification
- Closing of open files
- Execution of files
- Deletion of files
- Folder creation
- Copying of files
- Remote shell startup
- Write into pipe
- Tid reset of the remote shell
- Configuration settings collection
- Retrieval of logged in users
- Retrieval of running processes
- Process termination
- Windows enumeration
- Keyboard events set
- Mouse button press
- Cursor position set
- Screenshot capture
- Location and sending of files with time attributes
- Log files deletion
- Retrieval and sending of stored account credentials
- Retrieval and sending of stored email credentials
- SOCKS proxy setup and modification
- Audio devices information retrieval
- Start audio recording
- Stop audio recording
- Files search
- Files search with MD5
- Database queries execution
As the Trojan is based on a modular code base further changes can be implemented in future versions.