The xHunt hacking campaign was spotted several months ago, and malware researchers have made sure to keep a close eye on its activity. The xHunt campaign was first noticed by cybersecurity experts when the Hisoka backdoor Trojan was spotted on systems linked to a transportation company based in Kuwait. After studying the threat, researchers concluded that the Hisoka Trojan appears to be linked to several other malware families, namely Killua, Sakabota, Gon, Netero and EYE. It seems that all these tools are a part of the arsenal of the same group of cyber crooks. The infrastructure used by these cyber-criminals appears to be similar to how the infamous Iranian APT OilRig (also known as Helix Kitten) is carrying out its campaigns. This does not mean that the OilRig hacking group is behind the xHunt campaign necessarily, as there is not enough corroboration to determine this with any certainty.
A Highly-Skilled Hacking Group is Likely Responsible
Whoever is responsible for the xHunt operation appears to be very highly-skilled since not only are their tools very advanced, but they also manage to operate really quietly. For example, the Hisoka hacking tool establishes a connection with the C&C (Command & Control) server of the attackers and communicates with it via HTTP, email and DNS. Most hacking tools communicate with their operators' C&C server via HTTP but employing email and DNS is rather unusual and may make it more difficult for anti-virus tools to combat this threat.
Main Tools Used in the xHunt Campaign
The xHunt campaign's tools have different purposes:
- GON is a backdoor Trojan that is easy to operate (because it has user interface) and is capable of checking the system for open ports, establishing a Remote Desktop connection, running commands, and uploading and downloading files on the compromised host.
- Killua is a backdoor Trojan that can execute remote commands but is fairly limited in its capabilities.
- Hisoka is a backdoor Trojan that enables the attackers to issue further exploits to the infiltrated system.
- Sakabota appears to be an outdated variant of the Hisoka backdoor Trojan.
- EYE is a hacking tool that is meant to wipe out all trackers of the campaign's activities.
It is not disclosed who is behind the xHunt operation, but it is unlikely that they will cease their threatening activities any time soon. To keep your system safe, make sure you keep all your software up to date and do not forget to download and install a legitimate anti-malware application.