Anti-Malware Research Whitepapers

Worm-Cryptominer Combo Lets You Game While Using NSA Exploits to Move Laterally

Worm-Cryptominer Combo Lets You Game While Using NSA Exploits to Move Laterally

Bitdefender researchers recently found and analyzed a worm-cryptominer combo that uses a series of exploits to move laterally and compromise victims. What makes it interesting is that it pauses the resource-intensive cryptomining process if it finds popular games running on the victim’s machine. The investigation revealed that the worm-cryptominer has been constantly updated by its developers. Some of its modules were updated to make it difficult for security researchers to analyze it, as well as improve lateral movement and other capabilities.

Dubbed Beapy/PCASTLE by previous security researchers, Bitdefender takes a deeper dive into the behavior of the worm-cryptominer combo, offering a detailed changelog into how its modules and components have been updated over time. The Bitdefender investigation reveals how the worm and malware components have been used in conjunction to spread and mine cryptocurrency.

A new attack vector, not previously associated with delivering cryptocurrency miners or covered in past research, was also revealed during the investigation. A supply chain attack broke out against users of DriveTheLife, a potentially unwanted application (PUA), and against users of other similar apps that seem to run on the same infrastructure. It was found that a component of DriveTheLife that normally downloads and executes files from a legitimate domain, was apparently being manipulated and used to download a malicious payload on the victim’s machine from a domain operated by attackers.

Key findings:

  • Delivered via supply chain attack on PUA application
  • Moves laterally using advanced tools and unpatched vulnerabilities
  • Stays stealthy by pausing crypto mining if performance-intensive tasks, such as popular games, are running
  • Features both CPU and GPU mining components
  • Full timeline and changelog on how modules were updated
  • Private RSA key used for signing C&C communication publicly available
  • First detailed analysis on how both Beapy and PCASTLE work together

For a more detailed technical analysis, please check out the technical paper below:

Worm-Cryptominer Combo Lets You Game While Using NSA Exploits to Move Laterally

About the author

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Liviu ARSENE

Liviu Arsene is the proud owner of the secret to the fountain of never-ending energy. That's what's been helping him work his everything off as a passionate tech news editor for the past couple of years. He is the youngest and most restless member of the Bitdefender writer team and he covers mobile malware and security topics with fervor and a twist. His passions revolve around gadgets and technology, and he's always ready to write about what's hot and trendy out there in geek universe.

About the author

Eduard BUDACA

Eduard BUDACA

Eduard Budaca is an antimalware researcher at Bitdefender. When not dissecting malware, he enjoys coding and playing video games. While perhaps too meticulous at times, he believes that digging deeper into the matter is often the only way to make sure that what you see is actually true.