Countermeasures that ascertain awful Cobalt Strike action enabled a compromised alignment to abate a GOLD LAGOON advance afore the blackmail actors deployed ransomware.
Many cybercriminals that accomplish malware use the all-over Cobalt Strike apparatus to bead assorted payloads afterwards profiling a compromised network. Cobalt Strike is a commercially attainable and accepted command and ascendancy (C2) framework acclimated by the aegis association as able-bodied as a advanced ambit of blackmail actors. The able-bodied use of Cobalt Strike lets blackmail actors accomplish intrusions with precision.
Secureworks® Counter Blackmail Unit™ (CTU) advisers conducted a focused analysis into awful use of Cobalt Strike to accretion insights about back and how the apparatus has been used. This ability can advice to defended organizations that may be targeted by blackmail actors with assorted motives.
Understanding a blackmail actor’s end ambition is important. For example, the financially motivated GOLD LAGOON blackmail accumulation leverages the Qakbot botnet to arrange Cobalt Strike. CTU™ advisers frequently beam GOLD LAGOON deploying Cobalt Strike to Qakbot-infected hosts that are articular as associates of an Active Directory domain. The blackmail actors again use Cobalt Strike to move alongside throughout the network, authorize persistence, and ultimately facilitate damaging post-intrusion ransomware attacks. GOLD LAGOON provides admission to added blackmail groups that arrange assorted ransomware families in compromised environments.
The amount of aboriginal apprehension is accent by two agnate incidents. In the aboriginal incident, Secureworks adventure responders helped the victim balance from a REvil ransomware attack. The alignment did not accept an endpoint apprehension and acknowledgment (EDR) band-aid that articular the above-mentioned Qakbot and Cobalt Strike activity, which enabled the blackmail actors to accomplish their objectives. In the added incident, Secureworks Taegis™ XDR countermeasures detected and alerted on the awful Qakbot and Cobalt Strike action in the environment, enabling arrangement defenders to acknowledge bound to accommodate and abate the advance afore ransomware was deployed.
In this added incident, a user opened an Excel 4.0 macro worksheet absorbed to a phishing email. The adapter downloaded and installed Qakbot. Qakbot profiled the adulterated host, beatific the profiled abstracts to its C2 servers, and again downloaded and accomplished Cobalt Strike Beacon. The blackmail amateur acclimated Cobalt Strike Beacon’s alien cipher beheading adequacy to assassinate the ping utility. Ping articular added attainable servers aural the network. The blackmail amateur deployed Cobalt Strike Beacon on those targets and again accomplished approximate commands on those systems via the Rundll32 beheading utility. One of these commands attempted to ascertain area ambassador accounts.
This action of deploying Cobalt Strike Beacon to added servers from a compromised host lets arrangement defenders ascertain the account accustomed on the alien host, the admin allotment ablution content, and the consistent command execution:
By default, Cobalt Strike consistently leverages the Rundll32 account for command execution. Cobalt Strike consistently launches Rundll32 as a account via the ‘ADMIN$’ allotment on the alien host. The bifold that Cobalt Strike uses to barrage Rundll32 via the ‘ADMIN$’ allotment consistently has a filename that is absolutely seven alphanumeric characters.
The blackmail amateur additionally installed Cobalt Strike PowerShell stagers on servers accessed back affective alongside through the compromised network. These stagers accustomed the Cobalt Strike Beacon burden to assassinate in memory. Cobalt Strike PowerShell stager’s absence beheading arrangement is consistently configured to barrage as a account and is invoked from the command band with the ambit “/b /c alpha /b /min powershell -nop -w hidden”. The stager executes and decodes a byte arrangement in anamnesis to barrage Cobalt Strike via a reflected loaded library.
The availability of crooked Cobalt Strike versions on the aphotic web agency that blackmail actors can corruption it. Arrangement defenders charge attack to acknowledgment the “friend or foe” catechism back they ascertain Cobalt Strike in their environment, as the apparatus can be acclimated for both accepted and awful purposes. Taegis XDR, which is always adapted with intelligence acquired through CTU research, helps organizations differentiate noise, accepted use, and actionable alerts. Preview Taegis XDR to analyze added advantage for MITRE ATT&CK techniques.
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