Check Point Research finds sharp increase in attacks using the Phorpiex Botnet delivering new ‘Avaddon’ ransomware via malspam campaigns

Check Point Research, the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for June 2020.  Researchers found that in the past month the Phorpiex botnet has been delivering the Avaddon ransomware, a new Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) variant that emerged in early June, via malspam campaigns, causing it to jump up 13 places to 2nd in the Top Malware listing and doubling its impact on organizations worldwide compared to May.

As reported previously by Check Point researchers, Phorpiex is known for spreading large-scale sextortion malspam campaigns, as well distributing other malware families. The latest malspam messages distributed via Phorpiex try to entice recipients into opening a Zip file attachment by using a wink emoji in the email subject. If a user clicks on the file, the Avaddon ransomware is activated, scrambling data on the computer and demanding a ransom in return for file decryption.  In its 2019 research, Check Point found over a million Phorpiex-infected Windows computers. Researchers estimated the annual criminal revenue generated by Phorpiex botnet at approximately $500,000.

Meanwhile, the Agent Tesla remote access trojan and info-stealer continued to have a significant impact throughout June, moving up from 2nd place in May to 1st place, while the XMRig cryptominer remains in 3rd place for the second month running.

“In the past, Phorpiex, also known as Trik, was monetized by distributing other malware such as GandCrab, Pony or Pushdo, using its hosts to mine cryptocurrency, or for sextortion scams. It’s now being used to spread a new ransomware campaign,” said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point. “Organizations should educate employees about how to identify the types of malspam that carry these threats, such as the latest campaign targeting users with emails containing a wink emoji, and ensuring they deploy security that actively prevents them from infecting their networks.”

The research team also warns that “OpenSSL TLS DTLS Heartbeat Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 45% of organizations globally, closely followed by “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” which impacts 44% of organizations worldwide. “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” remains in third place, with a global impact of 38%.

Top malware families

This month Agent Tesla is the most popular malware with a global impact of 3% of organizations, closely followed by Phorpiex and XMRig affecting 2% of organizations each.

Agent Tesla – Agent Tesla is an advanced RAT functioning as a keylogger and information stealer, which is capable of monitoring and collecting the victim’s keyboard input, system clipboard, taking screenshots, and exfiltrating credentials belonging to of a variety of software installed on a victim’s machine (including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Outlook email client).

Phorpiex  Phorpiex is a botnet known for distributing other malware families via spam campaigns as well as fueling large-scale Sextortion campaigns.

XMRig – XMRig is open-source CPU mining software used for the mining process of the Monero cryptocurrency, and first seen in the wild on May 2017.

Top exploited vulnerabilities

This month “OpenSSL TLS DTLS Heartbeat Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, affecting 45% of organizations globally, closely followed by “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” which impacts 44% of organizations worldwide. “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” remains in third place, with a global impact of 38%.

OpenSSL TLS DTLS Heartbeat Information Disclosure (CVE-2014-0160; CVE-2014-0346) – An information disclosure vulnerability exists in OpenSSL. The vulnerability is due to an error when handling TLS/DTLS heartbeat packets. An attacker can leverage this vulnerability to disclose memory contents of a connected client or server.

MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution – A remote code execution vulnerability that exists in MVPower DVR devices. A remote attacker can exploit this weakness to execute arbitrary code in the affected router via a crafted request.

Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure – An information disclosure vulnerability has been reported in Git Repository. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an unintentional disclosure of account information.

Top mobile malware families

This month Necro is the most popular malware, following by Hiddad and Lotoor.

  1. Necro – Necro is an Android Trojan Dropper. It is capable of downloading other malware, showing intrusive ads and stealing money by charging paid subscriptions.
  2. Hiddad – Hiddad is an Android malware, which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.
  3. Lotoor – Lotoor is a hacking tool that exploits vulnerabilities on the Android operating system to gain root privileges on compromised mobile devices.