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New Python NodeStealer Goes Beyond Facebook Credentials, Now Stealing All Browser Cookies and Login Credentials

Sep 14 2023

Summary

Netskope Threat Labs is tracking a campaign that uses malicious Python scripts to steal Facebook users’ credentials and browser data. This campaign targets Facebook business accounts with bogus Facebook messages with a malicious file attached. The attacks are reaching victims mainly in Southern Europe and North America across different segments, led by the manufacturing services and technology sectors.

In January 2023, Meta identified a JavaScript-based malware dubbed NodeStealer, which aims to steal Facebook cookies and login credentials.

The present campaign appears to be a new variant of the Python-based NodeStealer that still aims to compromise Facebook business accounts. However, unlike previously reported NodeStealer versions, this one also pilfers all available credentials and cookies, not just those of Facebook. 

Let us explore how this new NodeStealer variant works.

NodeStealer distributed via Facebook messages.

The new NodeStealer variant we detected was hosted on the Facebook CDN and was sent to victims as an attachment in Facebook messages. Images of defective products were used as bait to convince owners or admins of Facebook business pages to download the malware payload. Unlike previous NodeStealer campaigns, this one uses a batch file instead of an executable as the initial payload.

NodeStealer sent via Facebook

We observed some identical batch files in multiple languages, indicating that the attacker customized the attack for each demographic.

Identical batch scripts named in different language

Once the file is downloaded, users have to run the batch file. The batch file uses a different character encoding,and opening it with a text editor by default will show incoherent characters. This is an attempt to obfuscate the script and hide its functions. Opening the file with a different encoding scheme will make the script comprehensible.

Malicious batch file readable when opened with UTF-8 character encoding

Once the user runs the batch file, it will initially open a Chrome browser and will land the victim on a benign page. The Chrome process will not be used later on, which is why we suspect that it was only done to convince the user that the file is benign.

However, in the background, Powershell is downloading several files from a malicious newly-registered domain (vuagame[.]store) using Invoke-WebRequest. It will initially download two zip files (Document.zip and 4HAI.zip), which will be stored in the C:\Users\Public folder. Document.zip contains a Python interpreter and its required DLLs and libraries, while 4HAI.zip contains the malware payloads.

Persistence through Startup Folder

Another difference with this NodeStealer, compared to the previously disclosed version, is the method for persistence. The “4HAI.zip” zip file contains another malicious batch file that is copied to the startup folder. The batch file runs Powershell to download and execute a malicious Python script named “project.py”. Just like the previous batch file, changing the character encoding is required to make the script legible.

After copying the batch file to the startup folder, another Python script named rmv.py is downloaded and executed to delete artifacts left behind.

Stolen credentials and browser cookies

The malicious python script in the startup folder converts an embedded hexadecimal encoded data into its binary representation. It was compressed several times over to likely evade detection. After several decompressions, the “exec” function is used to run the script.

Once it runs, one of the things the script checks is if there’s a Google Chrome process running, which it will terminate if there is. As mentioned earlier, Chrome is opened to access a benign website to put the user at ease. Ensuring that Chrome is not running is required at this stage to access the browser data.

Script that checks and terminates Chrome

Afterwards, the Python-based NodeStealer will collect the user’s IP address and country code using IPinfo. They will be used as a folder name where all collected data will be saved.

The malicious script collects several Google Chrome browser files, namely Login Data, Cookies and Local State. All copied files are then placed in a temp folder with the user’s IP address and country code as the folder name. Similar to previously disclosed NodeStealer, this one also targets several browsers, specifically Microsoft Edge, Brave, Opera, Cốc Cốc, Opera, and Firefox. The folder where the files are copied is deleted later on to remove evidence of the exfiltrated files.

Collection of Google Chrome Cookies, Login Data and Local State

After collecting browser files, NodeStealer first collects the encryption key found on the “Local State” file. This will be used later on to decrypt encrypted passwords. It then collects the username, password, and the URL from which they logged on, from the “Login Data” file. All data collected is then saved on a text file named “Password.txt” located on the temp file created earlier. 

NodeStealer also reads Cookie files and collects several pieces of data, such as domain, cookie name and values, and other important data. Unlike the previously reported NodeStealer, this variant will collect browser cookies regardless of whether it is from Facebook or not. However, we can see that it still looks for Facebook data since data collected from it is saved on a different text file. Stealing users’ cookies can lead to more targeted attacks. Cookies may store login credentials or active session data that can bypass the need to log in or type in the multi-factor authentication code, which can help