Inside the SOC
The last of its kind: Analysis of a Raccoon Stealer v1 infection (Part 1)
Towards the end of March 2022, the operators of Raccoon Stealer announced the closure of the Raccoon Stealer project . In May 2022, Raccoon Stealer v2 was unleashed onto the world, with huge numbers of cases being detected across Darktrace’s client base. In this series of blog posts, we will follow the development of Raccoon Stealer between March and September 2022. We will first shed light on how Raccoon Stealer functioned before its demise, by providing details of a Raccoon Stealer v1 infection which Darktrace’s SOC saw within a client network on the 18th March 2022. In the follow-up post, we will provide details about the surge in Raccoon Stealer v2 cases that Darktrace’s SOC has observed since May 2022.
What is Raccoon Stealer?
The misuse of stolen account credentials is a primary method used by threat actors to gain initial access to target environments . Threat actors have several means available to them for obtaining account credentials. They may, for example, distribute phishing emails which trick their recipients into divulging account credentials. Alternatively, however, they may install information-stealing malware (i.e, info-stealers) onto users’ devices. The results of credential theft can be devastating. Threat actors may use the credentials to gain access to an organization’s SaaS environment, or they may use them to drain users’ online bank accounts or cryptocurrency wallets.
Raccoon Stealer is a Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) info-stealer first publicized in April 2019 on Russian-speaking hacking forums.
The team of individuals behind Raccoon Stealer provide a variety of services to their customers (known as ‘affiliates’), including access to the info-stealer, an easy-to-use automated backend panel, hosting infrastructure, and 24/7 customer support .
Once Raccoon Stealer affiliates gain access to the info-stealer, it is up to them to decide how to distribute it. Since 2019, affiliates have been observed distributing the info-stealer via a variety of methods, such as exploit kits, phishing emails, and fake cracked software websites /. Once affiliates succeed in installing Raccoon Stealer onto target systems, the info-stealer will typically seek to obtain sensitive information saved in browsers and cryptocurrency wallets. The info-stealer will then exfiltrate the stolen data to a Command and Control (C2) server. The affiliate can then use the stolen data to conduct harmful follow-up activities.
Towards the end of March 2022, the team behind Raccoon Stealer publicly announced that they would be suspending their operations after one of their core developers was killed during the Russia-Ukraine conflict .
Recent details shared by the US Department of Justice / indicate that it was in fact the arrest, rather than the death, of a key Raccoon Stealer operator which led the Raccoon Stealer team to suspend their operations .
The closure of the Raccoon Stealer project, which ultimately resulted from the FBI-backed dismantling of Raccoon Stealer’s infrastructure in March 2022, did not last long, with the completion of Raccoon Stealer v2 being announced on the Raccoon Stealer Telegram channel on the 17th May 2022 .
In the second part of this blog series, we will provide details of the recent surge in Raccoon Stealer v2 activity. In this post, however, we will provide insight into how the old version of Raccoon Stealer functioned just before its demise, by providing details of a Raccoon Stealer v1 infection which occurred on the 18th March 2022.
On the 18th March, at around 13:00 (UTC), a user’s device within a customer’s network was seen contacting several websites providing fake cracked software.
The user’s attempt to download cracked software from one of these websites resulted in their device making an HTTP GET request with a URI string containing ‘autodesk-revit-crack-v2022-serial-number-2022’ to an external host named ‘lion-filez[.]xyz’
The device’s HTTP GET request to lion-filez[.]xyz was immediately followed by an HTTPS connection to the file hosting service, www.mediafire[.]com. Given that threat actors are known to abuse platforms such as MediaFire and Discord CDN to host their malicious payloads, it is likely that the user’s device downloaded the Raccoon Stealer v1 sample over its HTTPS connection to www.mediafire[.]com.
After installing the info-stealer sample, the user’s device was seen making an HTTP GET request with the URI string ‘/g_shock_casio_easy’ to 194.180.191[.]185. The endpoint responded to the request with data related to a Telegram channel named ‘G-Shock’.
The returned data included the Telegram channel’s description, which in this case, was a base64 encoded and RC4 encrypted string of characters /. The Raccoon Stealer sample decoded and decrypted this string of characters to obtain its C2 IP address, 188.166.49[.]196. This technique used by Raccoon Stealer v1 closely mirrors the espionage method known as ‘dead drop’ — a method in which an individual leaves a physical object such as papers, cash, or weapons in an agreed hiding spot so that the intended recipient can retrieve the object later on without having to come in to contact with the source. In this case, the operators of Raccoon Stealer ‘left’ the malware’s C2 IP address within the description of a Telegram channel. Usage of this method allowed the operators of Raccoon Stealer to easily change the malware’s C2 infrastructure.
After obtaining the C2 IP address from the ‘G-Shock’ Telegram channel, the Raccoon Stealer sample made an HTTP POST request with the URI string ‘/’ to the C2 IP address, 188.166.49[.]196. This POST request contained a Windows GUID, a username, and a configuration ID. These details were RC4 encrypted and base64 encoded . The C2 server responded to this HTTP POST request with JSON-formatted configuration information , including an identifier string, URL paths for additional files, along with several other fields. This configuration information was also concealed using RC4 encryption and base64 encoding.
In this case, the server’s response included the identifier string ‘hv4inX8BFBZhxYvKFq3x’, along with the following URL paths:
After retrieving configuration data, the user’s device was seen making HTTP GET requests with the above URI strings to the C2 server. The C2 server responded to these requests with legitimate library files such as sqlite3.dll. Raccoon Stealer uses these libraries to extract data from targeted applications.
Once the Raccoon Stealer sample had collected relevant data, it made an HTTP POST request with the URI string ‘/’ to the C2 server. This posted data likely included a ZIP file (named with the identifier string) containing stolen credentials .
The observed infection chain, which lasted around 20 minutes, consisted of the following steps:
1. User’s device installs Raccoon Stealer v1 samples from the user attempting to download cracked software
2. User’s device obtains the info-stealer’s C2 IP address from the description text of a Telegram channel
3. User’s device makes an HTTP POST request with the URI string ‘/’ to the C2 server. The request contains a Windows GUID, a username, and a configuration ID. The response to the request contains configuration details, including an identifier string and URL paths for additional files
4. User’s device downloads library files from the C2 server
5. User’s device makes an HTTP POST request with the URI string ‘/’ to the C2 server. The request contains stolen data
Although RESPOND/Network was not enabled on the customer’s deployment, DETECT picked up on several of the info-stealer’s activities. In particular, the device’s downloads of library files from the C2 server caused the following DETECT/Network models to breach:
- Anomalous File / Masqueraded File Transfer
- Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location
- Anomalous File / Zip or Gzip from Rare External Location
- Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location
- Anomalous File / Multiple EXE from Rare External Locations
Since the customer was subscribed to the Darktrace Proactive Threat Notification (PTN) service, they were proactively notified of the info-stealer’s activities. The quick response by Darktrace’s 24/7 SOC team helped the customer to contain the infection and to prevent further damage from being caused. Having been alerted to the info-stealer activity by the SOC team, the customer would also have been able to change the passwords for the accounts whose credentials were exfiltrated.
If RESPOND/Network had been enabled on the customer’s deployment, then it would have blocked the device’s connections to the C2 server, which would have likely prevented any stolen data from being exfiltrated.
Towards the end of March 2022, the team behind Raccoon Stealer announced that they would be suspending their operations. Recent developments suggest that the arrest of a core Raccoon Stealer developer was responsible for this suspension. Just before the Raccoon Stealer team were forced to shut down, Darktrace’s SOC team observed a Raccoon Stealer infection within a client’s network. In this post, we have provided details of the network-based behaviors displayed by the observed Raccoon Stealer sample. Since these v1 samples are no longer active, the details provided here are only intended to provide historical insight into the development of Raccoon Stealer’s operations and the activities carried out by Raccoon Stealer v1 just before its demise. In the next post of this series, we will discuss and provide details of Raccoon Stealer v2 — the new and highly prolific version of Raccoon Stealer.
Thanks to Stefan Rowe and the Threat Research Team for their contributions to this blog.
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Inside the SOC
How Abuse of ‘PerfectData Software’ May Create a Perfect Storm: An Emerging Trend in Account Takeovers
Amidst the ever-changing threat landscape, new tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) seem to emerge daily, creating extreme challenges for security teams. The broad range of attack methods utilized by attackers seems to present an insurmountable problem: how do you defend against a playbook that does not yet exist?
Faced with the growing number of novel and uncommon attack methods, it is essential for organizations to adopt a security solution able to detect threats based on their anomalies, rather than relying on threat intelligence alone.
In March 2023, Darktrace observed an emerging trend in the use of an application known as ‘PerfectData Software’ for probable malicious purposes in several Microsoft 365 account takeovers.
Using its anomaly-based detection, Darktrace DETECT™ was able to identify the activity chain surrounding the use of this application, potentially uncovering a novel piece of threat actor tradecraft in the process.
Microsoft 365 Intrusions
In recent years, Microsoft’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite, Microsoft 365, along with its built-in identity and access management (IAM) service, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), have been heavily targeted by threat actors due to their near-ubiquitous usage across industries. Four out of every five Fortune 500 companies, for example, use Microsoft 365 services .
Malicious actors typically gain entry to organizations’ Microsoft 365 environments by abusing either stolen account credentials or stolen session cookies . Once inside, actors can access sensitive data within mailboxes or SharePoint repositories, and send out emails or Teams messages. This activity can often result in serious financial harm, especially in cases where the malicious actor’s end-goal is to elicit fraudulent transactions.
Darktrace regularly observes malicious actors behaving in predictable ways once they gain access to customer Microsoft 365 environment. One typical example is the creation of new inbox rules and sending deceitful emails intended to convince recipients to carry out subsequent actions, such as following a malicious link or providing sensitive information. It is also common for actors to register new applications in Azure AD so that they can be used to conduct follow-up activities, like mass-mailing or data theft. The registration of applications in Azure AD therefore seems to be a relatively predictable threat actor behavior . Darktrace DETECT understands that unusual application registrations in Azure AD may constitute a deviation in expected behavior, and therefore a possible indicator of account compromise.
These registrations of applications in Azure AD are evidenced by creations of, as well as assignments of permissions to, Service Principals in Azure AD. Darktrace has detected a growing trend in actors creating and assigning permissions to a Service Principal named ‘PerfectData Software’. Further investigation of this Azure AD activity revealed it to be part of an ongoing account takeover.
‘PerfectData Software’ Activity
Darktrace observed variations of the following pattern of activity relating to an application named ‘PerfectData Software’ within its customer base:
- Actor signs in to a Microsoft 365 account from an endpoint associated with a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or Virtual Private Network (VPN) service
- Actor registers an application called 'PerfectData Software' with Azure AD, and then grants permissions to the application
- Actor accesses mailbox data and creates inbox rule
In two separate incidents, malicious actors were observed conducting their activities from endpoints associated with VPN services (HideMyAss (HMA) VPN and Surfshark VPN, respectively) and from endpoints within the Autonomous System AS396073 MAJESTIC-HOSTING-01.
In March 2023, Darktrace observed a malicious actor signing in to a Microsoft 365 account from a Kuwait-based IP address within the Autonomous System, AS198605 AVAST Software s.r.o. This IP address is associated with the VPN service, HMA VPN. Over the next couple of days, an actor (likely the same malicious actor) signed in to the account several more times from two different Nigeria-based endpoints, as well as a VPS-related endpoint and a HMA VPN endpoint.
During their login sessions, the actor performed a variety of actions. First, they created and assigned permissions to a Service Principal named ‘PerfectData Software’. This Service Principal creation represents the registration of an application called ‘PerfectData Software’ in Azure AD. Although the reason for registering this application is unclear, within a few days the actor registered and granted permission to another application, ‘Newsletter Software Supermailer’, and created a new inbox rule names ‘s’ on the mailbox of the hijacked account. This inbox rule moved emails meeting certain conditions to a folder named ‘RSS Subscription. The ‘Newsletter Software Supermailer’ application was likely registered by the actor to facilitate mass-mailing activity.
Immediately after these actions, Darktrace detected the actor sending out thousands of malicious emails from the account. The emails included an attachment named ‘Credit Transfer Copy.html’, which contained a suspicious link. Further investigation revealed that the customer’s network had received several fake invoice emails prior to this initial intrusion activity. Additionally, there was an unusually high volume of failed logins to the compromised account around the time of the initial access.
In a separate case also observed by Darktrace in March 2023, a malicious actor was observed signing in to a Microsoft 365 account from an endpoint within the Autonomous System, AS397086 LAYER-HOST-HOUSTON. The endpoint appears to be related to the VPN service, Surfshark VPN. This login was followed by several failed and successful logins from a VPS-related within the Autonomous System, AS396073 MAJESTIC-HOSTING-01. The actor was then seen registering and assigning permissions to an application called ‘PerfectData Software’. As with the previous example, the motives for this registration are unclear. The actor proceeded to log in several more times from a Surfshark VPN endpoint, however, they were not observed carrying out any further suspicious activity.
It was not clear in either of these examples, nor in fact any of cases observed by Darktrace, why actors had registered and assigned permissions to an application called ‘PerfectData Software’, and there do not appear to be any open-source intelligence (OSINT) resources or online literature related to the malicious usage of an application by that name. That said, there are several websites which appear to provide email migration and data recovery/backup tools under the moniker ‘PerfectData Software’.
It is unclear whether the use of ‘PerfectData Software’ by malicious actors observed on the networks of Darktrace customers was one of these tools. However, given the nature of the tools, it is possible that the actors intended to use them to facilitate the exfiltration of email data from compromises mailboxes.
If the legitimate software ‘PerfectData’ is the application in question in these incidents, it is likely being purchased and misused by attackers for malicious purposes. It is also possible the application referenced in the incidents is a spoof of the legitimate ‘PerfectData’ software designed to masquerade a malicious application as legitimate.
Cases of ‘PerfectData Software’ activity chains detected by Darktrace typically began with an actor signing into an internal user’s Microsoft 365 account from a VPN or VPS-related endpoint. These login events, along with the suspicious email and/or brute-force activity which preceded them, caused the following DETECT models to breach:
- SaaS / Access / Unusual External Source for SaaS Credential Use
- SaaS / Access / Suspicious Login Attempt
- SaaS / Compromise / Login From Rare Following Suspicious Login Attempt(s)
- SaaS / Email Nexus / Unusual Location for SaaS and Email Activity
Subsequent activities, including inbox rule creations, registration of applications in Azure AD, and mass-mailing activity, resulted in breaches of the following DETECT models.
- SaaS / Admin / OAuth Permission Grant
- SaaS / Compromise / Unusual Logic Following OAuth Grant
- SaaS / Admin / New Application Service Principal
- IaaS / Admin / Azure Application Administration Activities
- SaaS / Compliance / New Email Rule
- SaaS / Compromise / Unusual Login and New Email Rule
- SaaS / Email Nexus / Suspicious Internal Exchange Activity
- SaaS / Email Nexus / Possible Outbound Email Spam
- SaaS / Compromise / Unusual Login and Outbound Email Spam
- SaaS / Compromise / Suspicious Login and Suspicious Outbound Email(s)
In cases where Darktrace RESPOND™ was enabled in autonomous response mode, ‘PerfectData Software’ activity chains resulted in breaches of the following RESPOND models:
• Antigena / SaaS / Antigena Suspicious SaaS Activity Block
• Antigena / SaaS / Antigena Significant Compliance Activity Block
In response to these model breaches, Darktrace RESPOND took immediate action, performing aggressive, inhibitive actions, such as forcing the actor to log out of the SaaS platform, and disabling the user entirely. When applied autonomously, these RESPOND actions would seriously impede an attacker’s progress and minimize network disruption.
In addition, Darktrace Cyber AI Analyst was able to autonomously investigate registrations of the ‘PerfectData Software’ application and summarized its findings into digestible reports.
Due to the widespread adoption of Microsoft 365 services in the workplace and continued emphasis on a remote workforce, account hijackings now pose a more serious threat to organizations around the world than ever before. The cases discussed here illustrate the tendency of malicious actors to conduct their activities from endpoints associated with VPN services, while also registering new applications, like PerfectData Software, with malicious intent.
While it was unclear exactly why the malicious actors were using ‘PerfectData Software’ as part of their account hijacking, it is clear that either the legitimate or spoofed version of the application is becoming an very likely emergent piece of threat actor tradecraft.
Darktrace DETECT’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection allowed it to recognize that the use of ‘PerfectData Software’ represented a deviation in the SaaS user’s expected behavior. While Darktrace RESPOND, when enabled in autonomous response mode, was able to quickly take preventative action against threat actors, blocking the potential use of the application for data exfiltration or other nefarious purposes.
MITRE ATT&CK Mapping
• T1598 – Phishing for Information
• T1110 – Brute Force
• T1078.004 – Valid Accounts: Cloud Accounts
Command and Control:
• T1105 – Ingress Tool Transfer
• T1098.003 – Account Manipulation: Additional Cloud Roles
• T1114 – Email Collection
• T1564.008 – Hide Artifacts: Email Hiding Rules
• T1534 – Internal Spearphishing
Unusual Source IPs
• 5.62.60[.]202 (AS198605 AVAST Software s.r.o.)
• 160.152.10[.]215 (AS37637 Smile-Nigeria-AS)
• 197.244.250[.]155 (AS37705 TOPNET)
• 169.159.92[.]36 (AS37122 SMILE)
• 45.62.170[.]237 (AS396073 MAJESTIC-HOSTING-01)
• 92.38.180[.]49 (AS202422 G-Core Labs S.A)
• 129.56.36[.]26 (AS327952 AS-NATCOM)
• 92.38.180[.]47 (AS202422 G-Core Labs S.A.)
• 107.179.20[.]214 (AS397086 LAYER-HOST-HOUSTON)
• 45.62.170[.]31 (AS396073 MAJESTIC-HOSTING-01)
Darktrace Integrates Self-Learning AI with Amazon Security Lake to Support Security Investigations
Darktrace has deepened its relationship with AWS by integrating its detection and response capabilities with Amazon Security Lake.
This development will allow mutual customers to seamlessly combine Darktrace AI’s bespoke understanding of their organization with the Threat Intelligence offered by other security tools, and investigate all of their alerts in one central location.
This integration will improve the value security teams get from both products, streamlining analyst workflows and improving their ability to detect and respond to the full spectrum of known and unknown cyber-threats.
How Darktrace and Amazon Security Lake augment security teams
Amazon Security Lake is a newly-released service that automatically centralizes an organization’s security data from cloud, on-premises, and custom sources into a customer owned purpose-built data lake. Both Darktrace and Amazon Security Lake support the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), an open standard to simplify, combine, and analyze security logs.
Customers can store security logs, events, alerts, and other relevant data generated by various AWS services and security tools. By consolidating security data in a central lake, organizations can gain a holistic view of their security posture, perform advanced analytics, detect anomalies and open investigations to improve their security practices.
With Darktrace DETECT and RESPOND AI engines covering all assets across IT, OT, network, endpoint, IoT, email and cloud, organizations can augment the value of their security data lakes by feeding Darktrace’s rich and context-aware datapoints to Amazon Security Lake.
Amazon Security Lake empowers security teams to improve the protection of your digital estate:
- Quick and painless data normalization
- Fast-tracks ability to investigate, triage and respond to security events
- Broader visibility aids more effective decision-making
- Surfaces and prioritizes anomalies for further investigation
- Single interface for seamless data management
How will Darktrace customers benefit?
Across the Cyber AI Loop, all Darktrace solutions have been architected with AWS best practices in mind. With this integration, Darktrace is bringing together its understanding of ‘self’ for every organization with the centralized data visibility of the Amazon Security Lake. Darktrace’s unique approach to cyber security, powered by groundbreaking AI research, delivers a superior dataset based on a deep and interconnected understanding of the enterprise.
Where other cyber security solutions are trained to identify threats based on historical attack data and techniques, Darktrace DETECT gains a bespoke understanding of every digital environment, continuously analyzing users, assets, devices and the complex relationships between them. Our AI analyzes thousands of metrics to reveal subtle deviations that may signal an evolving issue – even unknown techniques and novel malware. It distinguishes between malicious and benign behavior, identifying harmful activity that typically goes unnoticed. This rich dataset is fed into RESPOND, which takes precise action to neutralize threats against any and every asset, no matter where data resides.
Both DETECT and RESPOND are supported by Darktrace Self-Learning AI, which provides full, real-time visibility into an organization’s systems and data. This always-on threat analysis already makes humans better at cyber security, improving decisions and outcomes based on total visibility of the digital ecosystem, supporting human performance with AI coverage and empowering security teams to proactively protect critical assets.
Converting Darktrace alerts to the Amazon Security Lake Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF) supplies the Security Operations Center (SOC) and incident response team with contextualized data, empowering them to accelerate their investigation, triage and response to potential cyber threats.
Darktrace is available for purchase on the AWS Marketplace.
Learn more about how Darktrace provides full-coverage, AI-powered cloud security for AWS, or see how our customers use Darktrace in their AWS cloud environments.