Russians fingered for 'Uroburos' spy malware campaign, went undetected for years

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A Russian agency could be behind a sophisticated piece of malware, known as Uroburos, that has potentially been stealing confidential data from governments and other high profile targets since as far back as 2011, according to researchers with Germany-based G Data SecurityLabs.

“Uroburos is a rootkit, composed of two files, a driver and an encrypted virtual file system,” according to a G Data SecurityLabs “Red Paper” released last week. “The rootkit is able to take control of an infected machine, execute arbitrary commands and hide system activities. It can steal information (most notably: files) and it is also able to capture network traffic.”

Uroburos – which supports 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows systems – works in a peer-to-peer mode, according to the Red Paper, which explains that a remote attacker can infect machines within a network even without an internet connection.

“It can spy on each and every infected machine and manages to send the exfiltrated information back to the attackers by relaying this exfiltrated data through infected machines to one machine with internet connection,” according to the Red Paper.   

The G Data SecurityLabs team wrote that the campaign dates back at least three years because one identified Uroburos driver was compiled in 2011, according to the Red Paper. 

Researchers have yet to identify exactly how Uroburos infects networks, but they offer several plausible scenarios in their analysis, including spear phishing, drive-by-infections, USB sticks, or social engineering attacks.

A number of technical details have led researchers to believe the group behind Uroburos is also behind a 2008 attack against the U.S. using a piece of malware known as Agent.BTZ. “Uroburos checks for the presence of Agent.BTZ and remains inactive if it is installed,” according to the Red Paper, which adds that both Uroburos and Agent.BTZ contain samples of the Russian language.

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