Olympic Destroyer: A new Candidate in South Korea
A new malware has recently made the headlines, targeting several computers during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Pyeongchang 2018. While Cisco Talos group, and later Endgame, have recently covered it, we noticed a couple of interesting aspects not previously addressed, we would like to share: its taste for hiding its traces, and the peculiar decryption routine. We also would like to pay attention on how the threat makes use of multiple components to breach the infected system. This knowledge allows us to improve our sandbox to be even more effective against emerging advanced threats, so we would like to share some of them.
The Olympic Destroyer
The malware is responsible for destroying (wiping out) files on network shares, making infected machines irrecoverable, and propagating itself with the newly harvested credentials across compromised networks.
To achieve this, the main executable file (sha1: 26de43cc558a4e0e60eddd4dc9321bcb5a0a181c) drops and runs the following components, all originally encrypted and embedded in the resource section:
- a browsers credential stealer (sha1: 492d4a4a74099074e26b5dffd0d15434009ccfd9),
- a system credential stealer (a Mimikatz-like DLL – sha1: ed1cd9e086923797fe2e5fe8ff19685bd2a40072 (for 64-bit OS), sha1: 21ca710ed3bc536bd5394f0bff6d6140809156cf (for 32-bit OS)),
- a wiper component (sha1: 8350e06f52e5c660bb416b03edb6a5ddc50c3a59).
- a legitimate signed copy of the PsExec utility used for the lateral movement (sha1: e50d9e3bd91908e13a26b3e23edeaf577fb3a095)
A wiper deleting data and logs
The wiper component is responsible for wiping the data from the network shares, but also destroying the attacked system by deleting backups, disabling services (Figure 1), clearing event logs using wevtutil, thereby making the infected machine unusable. The very similar behaviors have been previously observed in other Ransomware/Wiper attacks, including the infamous ones such as BadRabbit and NotPetya.
After wiping the files, the malicious component sleeps for an hour (probably, to be sure that the spawned thread managed to finish its job), and calls the InitiateSystemShutdownExW API with the system failure reason code (SHTDN_REASON_MAJOR_SYSTEM, 0x00050000) to shut down the system.
An unusual decryption to extract the resources
As mentioned before, the executables are stored encrypted inside the binary’s resource section. This is to prevent static extraction of the embedded files, thus slowing down the analysis process. Another reason of going “offline” (compared with e.g. the Smoke Loader) is to bypass any network-based security solutions (which, in turn, decreases the probability of detection). When the malware executes, they are loaded via the LoadResource API, and decrypted via the MMX/SSE instructions sometimes used by malware to bypass code emulation, this is what we’ve observed while debugging it. In this case, however, the instructions are used to implement AES encryption and MD5 hash function (instead of using standard Windows APIs, such as CryptEncrypt and CryptCreateHash) to decrypt the resources. The MD5 algorithm is used to generate the symmetric key, which is equal to MD5 of a hardcoded string “123”, and multiplied by 2.
The algorithms could be also identified by looking at some characteristic constants of
- The Rcon array used during the AES key schedule (see figure 2) and,
- The MD5 magic initialization constants.
The decrypted resources are then dropped in temporary directory and finally, executed.
An interesting aspect of the decryption is its usage of the SSE instructions. We exploited this peculiarity and hunted for other samples sharing the same code by searching for the associated codehash, for example. The later is a normalized representation of the code mnemonics included in the function block (see Figure 3) as produced by the Lastline sandbox, and exported as a part of the process snapshots).
Another interesting sample found during our investigation was (sha1: 84aa2651258a702434233a946336b1adf1584c49) with the harvested system credentials belonging to the Atos company, a technical provider of the Pyeongchang games (see here for more details).
A Shellcode Injection Wiping the Injector
Another peculiarity of the Olympic Destroyer is how it deletes itself after execution. While self-deletion is a common practice among malware, it is quite uncommon to see the injected shellcode taking care of it: the shellcode, once injected in a legitimate copy of notepad.exe, waits until the sample terminates, and then deletes it.
This is done first by calling CreateFileW API and checking whether the sample is still running (as shown in Figure 4); it then overwrites the file with a sequence of 0x00 byte, deletes it via DeleteFileW API, and finally exits the process.
The remainder of the injection process is very common and it is similar to what we have described in one of our previous blog posts: the malware first spawns a copy of notepad.exe by calling the CreateProcessW function; then allocates memory in the process by calling VirtualAllocEx, and writes shellcode in the allocated memory through WriteProcessMemory. Finally, it creates a remote thread for its execution via CreateRemoteThread.
Lastline Analysis Overview
Figure 6 shows how the analysis overview looks like when analyzing the sample discussed in this article:
In this article, we analyzed a variant of the Olympic Destroyer, a multi-component malware that steals credentials before making the targeted machines unusable by wiping out data on the network shares, and deleting backups. Additionally, the effort put into deleting its traces shows a deliberate attempt to hinder any forensic activity. We also have shown how Lastline found similar samples related to this attack based on an example of the decryption routine, and how we detect them. This is a perfect example of how the threats are continuously improving making them even stealthier, more difficult to extract and analyze.
|26de43cc558a4e0e60eddd4dc9321bcb5a0a181c (sample analyzed in this article)|
Latest posts by Alexander Sevtsov (see all)
- Evasive Monero Miners: Deserting the Sandbox for Profit - June 20, 2018
- I Hash You: A Simple But Effective Trick to Evade Dynamic Analysis - April 10, 2018
- Olympic Destroyer: A new Candidate in South Korea - February 21, 2018
Latest posts by Stefano Ortolani (see all)
- Nemty Ransomware Scaling UP: APAC Mailboxes Swarmed by Dual Downloaders - February 18, 2020
- Threat Research Report: Infostealers and self-compiling droppers set loose by an unusual spam campaign - January 30, 2020
- HELO Winnti: Attack or Scan? - September 30, 2019