By Eric Nyakagwa
Eight Kenyan institutions, including banks, and six in Uganda were among 140 enterprises in 40 countries affected by invisible memory malware attacks.
Others are telecommunication companies and government agencies, according to Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research & Analysis Team.
The hard-to-detect malware steals passwords and financial data.
According to the experts, the malware is not found on hard drives as it hides in the memory of compromised computers, making it almost “invisible” as criminals exfiltrate system administrators’ credentials and other sensitive data. When a targeted machine is rebooted, nearly all traces of the malware disappear.
“Several months after an attack the analysis of logs becomes a gamble because they are rotated over time. Hard drives store a lot of needed data and, depending on its activity, forensic specialists may extract data up to a year after an incident. That’s why attackers are using anti-forensic techniques (or simply SDELETE) and memory-based malware to hide their activity during data acquisition,” the security experts say in a report posted on Kaspersky Lab’s website.
A good example of the implementation of such techniques is Duqu2. After dropping on the hard drive and starting its malicious MSI package it removes the package from the hard drive with file renaming and leaves part of itself in the memory with a payload. That’s why memory forensics is critical to the analysis of malware and its functions. Another important part of an attack are the tunnels that are going to be installed in the network by attackers. Cybercriminals (like Carbanak or GCMAN) may use PLINK for that.
“Duqu2 used a special driver for that. Now you may understand why we were very excited and impressed when, during an incident response, we found that memory-based malware and tunnelling were implemented by attackers using Windows standard utilities like “SC” and “NETSH“,” the security experts say.
Here is the extent of the attacks in various countries:
Further details of these attacks and their objectives will be presented at the Security Analyst Summit, to be held on St. Maarten from 2 to 6 April, 2017.