Netskope Threat Research Labs has detected two variants of a data theft malware named Pony Loader resident in SaaS accounts, with one looking for around 35 different crypto-currency wallet credentials. The Pony Loader malware (also referred to as Fareit), is exclusively used in phishing campaigns, ever since the crimeware source code was made available for sale in the underground hacking forums. Netskope Threat Protection detects the two Pony Loader malware as Gen:Variant.Injector.124 and Gen:Variant.Midie.41711.
Phishing Email attachments
The phishing emails that distribute Pony Loader use enticing messages and filenames to encourage the recipients to open the email and download the infected file. These email attachments are often automatically synced to cloud storage services using file collaboration settings in popular SaaS applications and third-party applications.
The email attachments we observed are as shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2.
Figure 1: Phishing email with ‘Christmas Order.ace’ attachment
Figure 2: Phishing email with REZKAR Korea order list end of year 11-2017.r11 attachment
As mentioned in Figure 1 and Figure 2, the email attachments have extensions .ace and .r11. Traditional compression tools like WinRAR support the decompression R11 and ACE file formats. We have also detailed about the usage of .R11 file extension by Nanocore RAT in our previous research. Since decompression is also supported by these tools, the compressed archive with these extensions detonate successfully when the victim inadvertently executes the file.
Analysis of the Pony Loader Binaries
Both the Pony Loader archives we observed, contained binaries that are packed and complied with Microsoft Visual Basic. The details of the samples, detection by Netskope Threat Protection and Netskope Advanced Heuristics Analysis is as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Email attachments and detection from Netskope Threat Protection
Both the payloads are responsible for stealing credentials from several password authentication services like FTP accounts and browsers from the victim’s machine. This has been already detailed by us in our earlier research. The presence of this binary can be identified by a unique string “YUIPWDFILE0YUIPKDFILE0YUICRYPTED0YUI1.0” in the memory of the running process of the Pony Loader binary
File name – REZKAR Korea order list end of year 11-2017.exe
Netskope detection – Gen:Variant.Injector.124
At the time of writing, the C&C admin panel was active. The file path of the C&C, bobventures/Panel/ is as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: C&C path bobventures/Panel/
The Pony Loader login panel is as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Pony Loader login panel
The packet capture of the data sent to the C&C is shown in Figure 6.
Figure 6: C&C connection to mangiaine[.]com
Interestingly, the domain maingiane[.]com has the name server bitcoin-dns.hosting as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 7: maingiane[.]com name server bitcoin-dns.hosting
Bitcoin-dns.hosting is associated to a website named Domains4Bitcoins that allows to buy domains and hosting with Bitcoin.
File name – Christmas Order.exe
Netskope detection – Gen:Variant.Midie.41711
C&C – http://prontocasamos[.]com.br/wp-includes/pomo/.cert/grsec/encode[.]php
In addition to data exfiltration, this version of Pony Loader tries to retrieve credentials from 35 Cryptocurrency wallets as shown in Table 1.
|Pony Loader Cryptocurrency Wallet targets|
Table 1: Pony Loader Cryptocurrency Wallet targets
Additionally, the malware also contains a list of 232 common passwords to brute-force user accounts.
The passwords used by the malware are listed below
“samantha,michelle,david,eminem,scooter,asdfasdf,sammy,baby,diamond,maxwell,justin,james,chicken,danielle,iloveyou2,prince,junior,rainbow,nintendo,peanut,none,church,bubbles,robert,destiny,loving,gfhjkm,mylove,jasper,hallo,cocacola,helpme,nicole,guitar,billgates,looking,scooby,joseph,genesis, forum,emmanuel,cassie,victory,passw0rd,foobar,ilovegod,nathan,blabla,digital,peaches,football1,power, thunder,gateway,iloveyou!,football,tigger,corvette,angel,killer,creative,google,zxcvbnm,startrek,ashley,cheese,sunshine,christ,soccer,qwerty1,friend,summer,merlin,phpbb,jordan,saved,dexter,viper,winner,sparky,windows, 123abc,lucky,anthony,jesus,ghbdtn,admin,hotdog,baseball,password1,dragon,trustno1,jason,internet,mustdie, john,letmein,mike,knight,jordan23,abc123,red123,praise,freedom,jesus1,london,computer,microsoft,muffin,qwert,mother,master,qazwsx,samuel,canada,slayer,rachel,onelove,qwerty,prayer,iloveyou1,whatever,god,password,blessing,snoopy,1q2w3e4r,cookie,chelsea,pokemon,hahaha,aaaaaa,hardcore,shadow,welcome,mustang,bailey,blahblah,matrix,jessica,stella,benjamin,testing,secret,trinity,richard,peace,shalom,monkey,iloveyou,thomas,blink182,jasmine,purple,test,angels,grace,hello,poop,blessed,heaven,hunter,pepper,john316,cool,buster,andrew,faith,ginger,hockey,hello1,angel1,superman,enter,daniel,forever,nothing,dakota,kitten,asdf,banana,gates,flower,taylor,lovely,hannah,princess,compaq,jennifer,myspace1,smokey,matthew,harley,rotimi,soccer1,single,joshua,green,123qwe,starwars,love,silver,austin,michael,amanda,charlie,bandit,chris,happy,hope,maggie,maverick,online,spirit,george,friends,dallas,adidas,1q2w3e,orange,testtest,asshole,fapple,biteme,william,mickey,asdfgh,wisdom,batman”
At the time of analysis, the C&C was not active and not serving any response.
Pony Loader is a well-known crimeware used for data theft. Based on the above analysis we have observed both the payloads responsible for stealing credentials from several password authentication services like FTP accounts and browsers. Additionally, one version of Pony Loader tries to retrieve credentials from cryptocurrency wallets and also perform brute-force activity of the user accounts. With an increased attention in cryptocurrency and the presence of data theft trojans like Pony Loader, users must pay close attention on the social engineering tactics by threat actors and avoid opening any suspicious emails and attachments.
Netskope recommends the following to combat cloud malware and threats:
- Detect and remediate cloud threats using a threat-aware CASB solution like Netskope and enforce policy on usage of unsanctioned services as well as unsanctioned instances of sanctioned cloud services
- Sample policies to enforce:
- Scan all uploads from unmanaged devices to sanctioned cloud applications for malware
- Scan all uploads from remote devices to sanctioned cloud applications for malware
- Scan all downloads from unsanctioned cloud applications for malware
- Scan all downloads from unsanctioned instances of sanctioned cloud applications for malware
- Enforce quarantine/block actions on malware detection to reduce user impact
- Block unsanctioned instances of sanctioned/well known cloud apps, to prevent attackers from exploiting user trust in cloud. While this seems a little restrictive, it significantly reduces the risk of malware infiltration attempts via cloud
- Enforce DLP policies to control files and data en route to or from your corporate environment
- Regularly back up and turn on versioning for critical content in cloud services
- Enable the “View known file extensions” option on Windows machines
- Warn users to avoid executing unsigned macros and macros from an untrusted source, unless they are very sure that they are benign
- Whenever you receive a hyperlink, hover the mouse over it to ensure it’s legitimate
- Enterprise users should always keep their systems and antivirus updated with the latest releases and patches.
- Administrators can also consider to Improve credential protection for Microsoft Windows
- Warn users to avoid executing any file unless they are very sure that they are benign
- Warn users against opening untrusted attachments, regardless of their extensions or filenames
- Keep systems and antivirus updated with the latest releases and patches