Emotet

Emotet Description

emotet trojan horseEmotet started as a banking trojan some five years ago but has turned into so much more. Nowadays, it has become one of the most dangerous botnets and malware droppers-for-hire in the world. To fully monetize the attacks, Emotet often drops new banking trojans, email harvesters, self-propagation mechanisms, information stealers, and even ransomware.

Security researchers noted that the threat actors behind Emotet took a summer vacation, starting in June 2019, in which even the command and control (C2) activities came to a halt. As the summer months began to come to their conclusion, however, security researchers began to see an increase in the activity of Emotet's C2 infrastructure. As of September 16, 2019, Emotet is already in full gear with a reinvigorated spam campaign, relying on social engineering.

Emotet targets computer users through enticing spam email campaigns

One of the most ingenious and menacing ways through which Emotet infected victims was through stolen email content. The malware would swipe a victim's inbox and copy existing conversations, which it will then use in its own emails. Emotet will quote the bodies of real messages in a "reply" to a victim's unread email, in a bid to trick them into opening a malware-laced attachment, usually in the guise of a Microsoft Word document.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how someone expecting a reply to an ongoing conversation could be fooled in this manner. Furthermore, by mimicking existing email conversations, including genuine email contents and Subject headers, the messages become much more randomized and challenging to filter by anti-spam systems.

What's interesting is that Emotet doesn't use the email from which it stole content to send it to a potential victim. Instead, it sends the lifted conversation to another bot in the network, which then sends the email from an entirely different location, using a completely separate outbound SMTP server.

According to security researchers, Emotet used stolen email conversations in about 8.5 percent of attack messages before its summer hiatus. Since the vacation season has come to a close, however, this tactic has become more prominent, accounting for almost a quarter of all of Emotet's outbound email traffic.

Cybercrooks leverage Emotet to steal personal data

The tools at the disposal of cybercrooks looking to steal personal information from computers is virtually endless. It just so happens that Emotet is a type of malware threat that is highly effective at leveraging in a way to launch mass spam email campaigns that spreads malware designed to steal data from an unsuspecting computer user. The way in which Emotet works is to open up a backdoor for other high-risk computer threats, such as the Dridex trojan horse, which is specifically designed to steal data from a computer user using aggressive phishing techniques.

When used by the right type of hacker or cybercrook, Emotet may be used in a way to infiltrate a computer to load and install multiple malware threats. Even so, the additionally installed threats may be more dangerous where they may connect to command and control (C&C) servers to download instructions to carry out on the infected system.

The effects of Emotet should never be taken lightly

In any case of a malware threat as far-reaching as Emotet, computer users should take necessary precautions to prevent an attack from such. On the flip side, those who have been attacked by Emotet will want to find the necessary resource to safely detect and eliminate the threat. If one allows Emotet to run on a computer for a long period of time, the risk of having data pilfered exponentially increases.

Computer users who may delay in eliminating Emotet or taking the proper precautions will put their personal data stored on their PC at risk, which could lead to serious issues like identity theft. Moreover, Emotet is a difficult threat to detect, which is a process that is primarily done by an updated antimalware resource or application.

At all times, computer users should utilize caution when opening emails with attachments, specifically ones that contain attachments in the form of Microsoft Word documents, which is known to be a method that Emotet uses to spread malware.

The return of Emotet

At one point in 2019, Emotet's command and control servers where shuttered leaving systems infected by the threat free from being under the control of the perpetrators behind Emotet. However, not too soon after the shut-down of the C&C servers, Emotet came back from the dead where hackers not only gained control of Emotet, but they are using legitimate websites to spread the threat via spam campaigns by first hacking the sites.

Emotet’s developers have reportedly targeted about 66,000 email addresses for over 30,000 domain names, many of those domains belonging to legitimate sites that were hacked. Some of the legitimate sites attacked by the creators of Emotet are the following:

  • biyunhui[.]com
  • broadpeakdefense[.]com
  • charosjewellery[.]co.uk
  • customernoble[.]com
  • holyurbanhotel[.]com
  • keikomimura[.]com
  • lecairtravels[.]com
  • mutlukadinlarakademisi[.]com
  • nautcoins[.]com
  • taxolabs[.]com
  • think1[.]com

Fundamentally, we will see an increase in malware infections as sure as time progresses. As researchers from Cisco Talos noted: "When a threat group goes silent, it's unlikely they'll be gone forever," elaborating: "Rather, this opens up the opportunity for a threat group to return with new IOCs, tactics, techniques, and procedures or new malware variants that can avoid existing detection."

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Technical Information

File System Details

Emotet creates the following file(s):
# File Name Size MD5 Detection Count
1 %WINDIR%\syswow64\licensefwdr.exe\licensefwdr.exe 131,072 3391006372b212ba0be34bf9cc47bb15 59
2 c:\users\vtc\downloads\8e8cmlbo6fx_lxfm3xki.exe 582,656 0d87835af614586f70e39e2dfdba1953 41
3 c:\windows\syswow64\ni6tj3f0c.exe 143,360 865eba9b4ee8e93f500232eae85899f9 14
4 c:\users\vtc\downloads\fcuthenucs_qzfm9unm.exe 230,400 fc620fb26d06a3f15e97fa438e47b4e3 13
5 c:\windows\syswow64\sw1bo.exe 139,264 6957fc973e45d6362c9508297840332c 13
6 c:\users\vtc\downloads\8lqwejk6.exe 159,744 9ab8c51587e3a46950576c545d917e5f 8
7 c:\windows\syswow64\guidsripple.exe 143,360 954d6e95ef173331841a54b2bacbcd28 8
8 c:\users\vtc\downloads\4fg5i4hhrxlb.exe 143,360 78568e302c560975fcd94dd9a0a9376e 7
9 c:\windows\syswow64\ripplepolic.exe 155,648 d3fe0e7a94cf8a04435ecd85d1a85227 7
10 c:\windows\syswow64\yozzkzognj.exe 120,584 e2ff405f5eaf263d4d8a93bfc6e859fa 7
11 c:\users\mark\211.exe 139,264 831bbafd3a5596994e3e5407e86a6ab0 6
12 c:\windows\syswow64\s9nevcf77pvpbcahes.exe 139,264 9f6d496199d712df75fea0d4f65a774d 6
13 c:\users\vtc\downloads\2chprz_ixegs.exe 196,608 8a831c8be1460a0da440b3b8c0087db5 5
14 c:\users\vtc\downloads\9tadwtpw5estit.exe 159,744 b25ec6e225cf6247dcb3810470ae86b7 5
15 c:\users\vtc\downloads\td5g1cst.exe 223,232 d42dbba27dc711e5b4a3f4bf83967049 4
16 c:\users\vtc\downloads\eubvppgtru.exe 176,128 8ee51734c26d60331767a0d52a912761 4
17 c:\users\vtc\downloads\cvedvfdyaj.exe 232,960 e60048bfaab06dcab844454c33ad5491 4
18 c:\windows\syswow64\349mitq1lymvm.exe 147,720 80390316fcad7bbcd687a257bb95fea8 3
19 c:\users\vtc\downloads\aizz7dugmz_ddw.exe 241,152 149f8faf3bb1c3cbd1207c133715a480 2
20 c:\users\vtc\downloads\yucdynkhb_o6.exe 180,224 71ed815e536c1bdf27bca03193d28f6f 2
21 c:\users\vtc\downloads\h7kg8jsthbc.exe 224,768 c6c70da245a63f7ae7052ebac3fb76c6 2
22 c:\users\vtc\downloads\3rvisooo.exe 143,360 8b1e9ddcf559dc5ec9f9d3a0de4ad7da 2
23 c:\users\vtc\downloads\troj_generic_a26fae45def91b38f3750f8bb25a709a6502adcea0420906b0db14212a9a814d.exe 151,552 73b1382ee4db7d2b6f8e88a09e0d0ba9 1
24 c:\users\vtc\downloads\troj_generic_ec086af0e56b97ea6b427f02f90def0897bb0fe578eed1d48bf33049e4c9d439.exe 403,456 536d98819ef25d5452ef802d4541bb46 1
25 c:\users\vtc\downloads\nyw9zo0unktg.exe 151,552 9f014cbcab40bffea72945ae8062394e 1
26 c:\windows\1956838695.exe 187,192 2470ec430218c72f6b0a991f44f6c0d1 1
More files

Registry Details

Emotet creates the following registry entry or registry entries:
Regexp file mask
%APPDATA%\microsoft\vhmjoh\vhmjo.exe
%APPDATA%\SetingSync64.exe
%WINDIR%\System32\sysnet.exe
%WINDIR%\SysWOW64\HawaiiAppointment.exe
%WINDIR%\SysWOW64\nvapp.exe
%WINDIR%\SysWOW64\policsource.exe
%WINDIR%\SysWOW64\slsbthpan.exe

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