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Tuesday, 05 February 2019 09:14

Trojan targets Linux servers through recent remote flaw

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Trojan targets Linux servers through recent remote flaw Pixabay

Security firm Check Point has discovered malware that uses a remote exploit to gain a presence on Linux servers and implant a backdoor trojan, and has dubbed it SpeakUp. The malware can also infect Mac devices.

The trojan can exploit other known vulnerabilities to spread on internal networks after the initial infection, Check Point said in a detailed blog post about its find. Servers, including those hosted on Amazon's AWS cloud service, were being targeted around the globe.

The initial entry point was through a recently reported vulnerability in ThinkPHP and executes a Perl backdoor after using command injection techniques to upload a PHP shell. A backdoor is then loaded and launched.

Communication then takes place with a command and control server where the details of the infected server are sent and stored. After this, execution of arbitrary code can take place on the infected server, or mining for cryptocurrency can be triggered.

SpeakUp ensures that it will stay on the infected machine by using cron and an internal mutex to keep only one instance of itself running at any one time.

Included in the backdoor is a python script that scans and infects more Linux servers using any one of the following vulnerabilities:

  • CVE-2012-0874: JBoss Enterprise Application Platform Multiple Security Bypass Vulnerabilities
  • CVE-2010-1871: JBoss Seam Framework remote code execution
  • JBoss AS 3/4/5/6: Remote Command Execution (exploit)
  • CVE-2017-10271: Oracle WebLogic wls-wsat Component Deserialisation RCE
  • CVE-2018-2894: Vulnerability in the Oracle WebLogic Server component of Oracle Fusion Middleware.
  • Hadoop YARN ResourceManager – Command Execution (exploit)
  • CVE-2016-3088: Apache ActiveMQ Fileserver File Upload Remote Code Execution Vulnerability.

Based on the fact that the unique user-agents used by SpeakUp in its HTTP communication included a string that was the same as the md5 hash of the word liteHTTP - a C# based bot that targets Windows clients - Check Point speculated that the creator of liteHTTP may be behind SpeakUp.

"SpeakUp`s obfuscated payloads and propagation technique is beyond any doubt the work of a bigger threat in the making," Check Point said.

"It is hard to imagine anyone would build such a compound array of payloads just to deploy few miners. The threat actor behind this campaign can at any given time deploy additional payloads, potentially more intrusive and offensive.

"It has the ability to scan the surrounding network of an infected server and distribute the malware. This campaign, while still relatively new, can evolve into something bigger and potentially more harmful."

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Sam Varghese

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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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