Glimpse is a newly uncovered hacking tool that is believed to be the creation of the OilRig group. This hacking group is also known as APT34 (Advanced Persistent Threat) and originates from Iran. Malware researchers have been familiar with the OilRig hacking group for a while, and they are known to be highly-skilled and very threatening. The Glimpse malware is built in a very interesting fashion. The Glimpse threat uses the DNS protocol instead of utilizing the usual, and rather noisy FTP or HTTP connections. However, despite this significantly reducing the noise of the harmful operation, it has some significant negative sides too. The use of the DNS protocol hinders the capabilities of the Glimpse threat greatly. The reason behind this is that this method only supports certain characters and has a limited quantity of data that can be transferred, therefore handicapping the malware.
The Four Primary Record Types
There are four main records ,which are supported by the DNS protocol:
- CNAME (Canonical Name) Records – They connect a certain hostname to the domain or sub-domain.
- TXT Records – Serve to store different text, usually linked to domain information such as address, name, contact, etc., or data regarding verification (like the Sender Policy Framework data).
- A Records – The basic record type, which serves to connect a specific IP address to a domain or sub-domain.
- MX (Mail Exchange) Records – Serve the same purpose as A Records but possess a 'priority' feature, which determines a secondary mail server in case the primary one is not working.
Cybersecurity researchers have determined that the OilRig hacking group has so far utilized the TXT type and the A record types in their threatening campaign, with the A Records serving as a priority technique. The OilRig group has custom-built the TXT records DNS queries but also uses pre-made DNS queries for the A records.
Building a threat that uses the DNS protocol is certainly not an easy task as the con artists need to be very creative and inventive to make a functional and harmful threat despite its limited abilities. It has not been revealed what the OilRig group is using the Glimpse malware for, but rest assured that we will keep hearing about these threatening campaigns in the future.