New Linux malware combines uncommon stealth with a full suite of capabilities


Researchers this week unveiled a brand new pressure of Linux malware that is notable for its stealth and class in infecting each conventional servers and smaller Web-of-things gadgets.

Dubbed Shikitega by the AT&T Alien Labs researchers who found it, the malware is delivered via a multistage an infection chain utilizing polymorphic encoding. It additionally abuses professional cloud providers to host command-and-control servers. This stuff make detection extraordinarily troublesome.

“Menace actors proceed to seek for methods to ship malware in new methods to remain underneath the radar and keep away from detection,” AT&T Alien Labs researcher Ofer Caspi wrote. “Shikitega malware is delivered in a classy method, it makes use of a polymorphic encoder, and it regularly delivers its payload the place every step reveals solely a part of the overall payload. As well as, the malware abuses identified internet hosting providers to host its command and management servers.”

AT&T Alien Labs

The last word goal of the malware is not clear. It drops the XMRig software program for mining the Monero cryptocurrency, so stealthy cryptojacking is one chance. However Shikitega additionally downloads and executes a robust Metasploit package deal generally known as Mettle, which bundles capabilities together with webcam management, credential stealing, and a number of reverse shells right into a package deal that runs on the whole lot from “the smallest embedded Linux targets to huge iron.” Mettle’s inclusion leaves open the potential that surreptitious Monero mining is not the only real operate.

The primary dropper is tiny—an executable file of simply 376 bytes.

AT&T Alien Labs

The polymorphic encoding occurs courtesy of the Shikata Ga Nai encoder, a Metasploit module that makes it straightforward to encode the shellcode delivered in Shikitega payloads. The encoding is mixed with a multistage an infection chain, during which every hyperlink responds to part of the earlier one to obtain and execute the following one.

“Utilizing the encoder, the malware runs via a number of decode loops, the place one loop decodes the following layer, till the ultimate shellcode payload is decoded and executed,” Caspi defined. “The encoder stud is generated based mostly on dynamic instruction substitution and dynamic block ordering. As well as, registers are chosen dynamically.”

AT&T Alien Labs

AT&T Alien Labs

A command server will reply with extra shell instructions for the focused machine to execute, as Caspi documented within the packet seize proven under. The bytes marked in blue are the shell instructions that the Shikitega will execute.

AT&T Alien Labs

The instructions and extra information, such because the Mettle package deal, are routinely executed in reminiscence with out being saved to disk. This provides additional stealth by making detection via antivirus safety troublesome.

To maximise its management over the compromised gadget, Shikitega exploits two important escalation of privileges vulnerabilities that give full root entry. One bug, tracked as CVE-2021-4034 and colloquially generally known as PwnKit, lurked within the Linux kernel for 12 years till it was found early this 12 months. The opposite vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2021-3493 and got here to gentle in April 2021. Whereas each vulnerabilities have acquired patches, the fixes might not be extensively put in, significantly on IoT gadgets.

The submit offers file hashes and domains related to Shikitega that events can use as indicators of a compromise. Given the work the unknown risk actors accountable dedicated to the malware’s stealth, it would not be stunning if the malware is lurking undetected on some programs.

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Researchers this week unveiled a brand new pressure of Linux malware that is notable for its stealth and class in infecting each conventional servers and smaller Web-of-things gadgets. Dubbed Shikitega by the AT&T Alien Labs researchers who found it, the malware is delivered via a multistage an infection chain utilizing polymorphic encoding. It additionally abuses…