Tuesday, July 26, 2022
HomeHackerSpecialists Uncover New 'CosmicStrand' UEFI Firmware Rootkit Utilized by Chinese language Hackers

Specialists Uncover New ‘CosmicStrand’ UEFI Firmware Rootkit Utilized by Chinese language Hackers

An unknown Chinese language-speaking risk actor has been attributed to a brand new type of refined UEFI firmware rootkit known as CosmicStrand.

“The rootkit is situated within the firmware photographs of Gigabyte or ASUS motherboards, and we observed that each one these photographs are associated to designs utilizing the H81 chipset,” Kaspersky researchers mentioned in a brand new report revealed right this moment. “This implies {that a} frequent vulnerability might exist that allowed the attackers to inject their rootkit into the firmware’s picture.”

Victims recognized are mentioned to be non-public people situated in China, Vietnam, Iran, and Russia, with no discernible ties to any group or business vertical. The attribution to a Chinese language-speaking risk actor stems from code overlaps between CosmicStrand and different malware such because the MyKings botnet and MoonBounce.

Rootkits, that are malware implants which can be able to embedding themselves within the deepest layers of the working system, are morphed from a rarity to an more and more frequent prevalence within the risk panorama, equipping risk actors with stealth and persistence for prolonged durations of time.


Such sorts of malware “guarantee a pc stays in an contaminated state even when the working system is reinstalled or the consumer replaces the machine’s arduous drive totally,” the researchers mentioned.

CosmicStrand, a mere 96.84KB file, can be the second pressure of UEFI rootkit to be found this yr after MoonBounce in January 2022, which was deployed as a part of a focused espionage marketing campaign by the China-linked superior persistent risk group (APT41) referred to as Winnti.

Though the preliminary entry vector of the infections is one thing of a thriller, the post-compromise actions contain introducing modifications to a driver known as CSMCORE DXE to redirect code execution to a bit of attacker-controlled section designed to be run throughout system startup, finally resulting in the deployment of a malware inside Home windows.

In different phrases, the aim of the assault is to tamper with the OS loading course of to deploy a kernel-level implant right into a Home windows machine each time it is booted, utilizing this entrenched entry to launch shellcode that connects to a distant server to fetch the precise malicious payload to be executed on the system.


The precise nature of the next-stage malware acquired from the server is unclear as but. What’s recognized is that this payload is retrieved from “replace.bokts[.]com” as a collection of packets containing 528 byte-data that is subsequently reassembled and interpreted as shellcode.

The “shellcodes acquired from the [command-and-control] server is perhaps stagers for attacker-supplied PE executables, and it is extremely seemingly that many extra exist,” Kaspersky famous, including it discovered a complete of two variations of the rootkit, one which was used between the tip of 2016 and mid-2017, and the newest variant, which was lively in 2020.

Curiously, Chinese language cybersecurity vendor Qihoo360, which make clear the early model of the rootkit in 2017, raised the chance that the code modifications might have been the results of a backdoored motherboard obtained from a second-hand reseller.

“Probably the most putting side […] is that this UEFI implant appears to have been used within the wild because the finish of 2016 – lengthy earlier than UEFI assaults began being publicly described,” the researchers mentioned. “This discovery begs a remaining query: if that is what the attackers had been utilizing again then, what are they utilizing right this moment?”



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