DistTrack was created in 2012 for cyber-espionage. Its primary purpose was to wreak havoc on government, utilities, military, and big corporate targets. Shamoon adds the ability to remotely turn on file-sharing and disable user access for remote control sessions. It is tough to stop with firewalls or antivirus.
iTWire has received alerts from various antivirus/malware companies. This report is based on Palo Alto and Symantec security alerts and a perhaps a more novel way of protecting data – via TrapX’s DeceptionGrid that sets up a decoy “fake” system that mimics the genuine operational IT system to protect it.
At this time the malware seems to be focused on larger targets in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia), but variants are already appearing that can counter, the counter-measures taken for DistTrack.
The attack spreads to other systems on the local network by logging in using legitimate domain account credentials, copying itself to the system and creating a scheduled task that executes the payload. The initial account credentials are specific to the targeted organisation.
Palo Alto says it appears to like systems using Huawei’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions, such as FusionCloud. VDI solutions can provide some protection against this attack through the ability to load snapshots of wiped systems. The fact that the Shamoon attackers had Huawei usernames and passwords suggests they are targeting specific high-value organisations. It is not suggesting Huawei is at fault or that its VDI passwords have been compromised – but the attackers used that route for at least one attack.
TrapX takes a different route that creates a fake IT system (called a trap as part of its DeceptionGrid) to allow malware to do its worst without affecting the corporate network. Traps appear as the only real assets within the legitimate IT network. Any attack on a trap generates alerts and provides sophisticated analysis of the attack. Its report suggests DistTrack has destroyed more than 30,000 systems and it is now in the wild and able to be used on any organisation where a single admin login credential can be obtained.
It says Shamoon uses data obfuscation and encryption techniques to make it more difficult to detect and analyse, even by security professionals. It also uses anti-debugging techniques, calling Windows API functions such as IsDebuggerPresent to determine whether it is being analysed by a debugger or a sandbox. It also has sophisticated anti-virtual-machine capabilities, designed to evade detection by isolated VM environments.
Symantec also commented on the malware saying that while its intent was the destruction of data and massive inconvenience of reconfiguring every workstation and system attacked the technology behind it could also be used to deliver a ransomware payload.
All reports have similar conclusions – the malware wreaks destruction across any system it attacks by deleting everything and overwriting the MBR so that even drives are no longer bootable.