The Winnti Group, (Advanced Persistent Threat), has been operating for a while, causing headaches to numerous victims. Malware researchers believe that the WinntiGroup is operating from China. The Winnti Group often targets companies that operate in the gaming industry or the business of software development. Their attacks are known to be stealthy and may often remain under the radar of their victims for a long time significantly. The hacking group has a decent arsenal of tools and is known to prefer stealth over destruction. Among their arsenal of hacking tools is the skip-2.0 backdoor Trojan.

Exploits MSSQL Servers

It is not clear what is the propagation method employed in the spreading of the skip-2.0 backdoor Trojan. However, cybersecurity experts have detected that in the campaigns involving the skip-2.0 Trojan, the Winnti Group also known as APT41 is taking advantage of vulnerable MSSQL (Microsoft SQL) servers. The skip-2.0 malware is known to be generating the so-called ‘magic passwords’ for each MSSQL server account that has been infiltrated. Thanks to these unique passwords, the Winnti Group can gain access to the infiltrated accounts as long as they are connected to the MSSQL server in question. This means that the attackers will be able to tamper with the server’s settings and the contents of the database using the privileges they have gained.

Can Collect Encrypted Login Credentials

The databases we mentioned are used for keeping all the users’ login credentials. However, this sensitive data is encrypted, which means that the Winnti Group will have some trouble trying to get the information they are after. This is not the only use of the skip-2.0 backdoor Trojan, however. For instance, if a gaming company is targeted per se, with their escalated privileges on the database backend, the Winnti Group will then be able to modify the cost of in-game purchases or resources/key features within a given game. Seeing as there is a large set of transactions today in mobile or desktop gaming, even just the slightest alteration in the price of given offers is likely to yield the operators of the skip-2.0 Trojan significant profits.

As we mentioned, the Winnti Group makes sure to remain stealthy when carrying out their operations; thus they have made sure that the skip-2.0 malware will wipe out all traces of its malicious activity in order to remain on the compromised system undetected. Chinese hackers have been a mighty force on the cybercrime scene for many years now, and the Winnti Group is just one of the many hacking groups which are tormenting users worldwide.


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