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Friday, 15 March 2019 11:52

New cryptominer targets Elasticsearch on Windows, Linux

New cryptominer targets Elasticsearch on Windows, Linux Pixabay

A new cryptomining campaign that targets both Windows and Linux systems running the Elasticsearch search and analytics engine has been detailed by researchers from F5 Networks.

Andrey Shalnev and Maxim Zavodchik said in a blog post that the campaign, which they have named Cryptosink, was using a five-year-old vulnerability in Elasticsearch to gain entry to the servers.

The initial infection vector was a malicious HTTP request that targeted Elasticsearch.

In the case of Windows servers, a malicious executable was downloaded directly to the server by calling the certutil utility that ships with Windows and is used to manipulate SSL certificates.

The method of gaining residency was more complicated in the case of the Linux servers, they said, with a number of unknown malware strains that were not detectable by anti-virus solutions being used.

The cryptominer also ensured it had primacy on the servers it infected by redirecting the traffic generated by any other miners already on the machine to a sinkhole, thus shutting them down.

And to prevent its removal, the mining malware wrapped the Linux remove command rm with code that would result in its re-installation if removed.

The malware was also able to backdoor the server by adding the SSH keys of the person who was carrying out the attack.

And it used several command and control servers, with the current live one being in China.

Shalnev and Zavodchik said the rise of cryptomining botnets and the decline in crypto currency value meant there was tough competition among the various currencies.

"Threat actors deploy new creative tactics to take competitors out of business, take control over CPU resources, and retain persistency on the infected server," they said.

"Ironically, the cryptominer sinkholing technique deployed by the current attackers could be also reviewed by defenders as a countermeasure. However, to avoid the initial infection, defenders should deploy a more effective patching processes, whether it is done in the code or virtually by a Web application firewall."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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