Malware

Crypto-mining malware uninstalls cloud security software

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The malware uninstalls cloud security protection and monitoring products from compromised servers.
The malware uninstalls cloud security protection and monitoring products from compromised servers.

Researchers from Palo Alto Networks have discovered new crypto-mining malware that performs a previously unseen function: it uninstalls cloud security products.

In a report published last week, the company's Unit 42 global threat intelligence team claimed this unique malware family has the ability to gain admin rights on targeted systems by uninstalling cloud-security products.

The coin-mining malware is used by the Rocke group, also known as the Iron group, which is associated with the Xbash malware. The group, which has become infamous for its ransomware campaigns, uses a code that has both ransomware and coin-mining ability.

Moreover, it has characteristics of a botnet as well as a worm, as it can replicate itself, as can the notorious WannaCry and Petya/NotPetya malware.

During analysis, the researchers discovered the samples used by the Iron group employed new code to uninstall five different cloud security protection and monitoring products from compromised servers.

The attacks did not compromise any of these security products. Instead, the malware initially gained full administrative control over the hosts and then misused that control to uninstall these products in the same way a legitimate administrator would be able to.

Malware evasion

The products in question were developed by Tencent Cloud and Alibaba Cloud (Aliyun), the two main cloud providers in China that are both expanding worldwide.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products," says Palo Alto.

Unit 42 has been working with Tencent Cloud and Alibaba Cloud to address this malware evasion problem.

Public cloud infrastructure is one of the main targets for this specific cyber crime group, the company adds. "Realising the existing cloud monitor and security products may detect the possible malware intrusion, malware authors continue to create new evasion technologies to avoid being detected by cloud security product."

According to Palo Alto, this new malware employed by the Iron group highlights the fact that agent-based cloud security solutions may not be enough to stop evasive malware targeted at public cloud infrastructure.

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