jeudi 7 mars 2019

New SLUB Backdoor Uses GitHub, Communicates via Slack

So here is a new blog post. It was a great collaborative work with several of my highly skilled colleagues :-)

It is all about a new malware we discovered recently, used in an APT, and sitting on an interesting watering hole.

vendredi 1 mars 2019

How a Hacking Group is Stealing Popular Instagram Profiles

Well here is a new blog post I published regarding cybercrime, this time mostly around Instagram.

While I have contributed to this blog post, I have to say it was mostly the awesome work of my talented colleague Jindrich. Great work mate ! :-)

mardi 30 octobre 2018

Critical Infrastructures Exposed and at Risk: Energy and Water Industries

I am very proud to be part of that research we published :

Full paper :

It was amazing to work with all these colleagues :-)

vendredi 16 mars 2018

Taking Down Fraudulent Domains (Part 2)

So here's the second part of that serie on fraudulent domain monitoring and takedown.


Hope you'll enjoy :-)

lundi 5 mars 2018

InfoSec Guide: Domain Monitoring — Detecting Phishing Attacks (Part 1)

I just published this one, on domain registration monitoring:

Next one should be published very soon :-)

Hope you'll enjoy :-)

lundi 11 décembre 2017

Untangling the Patchwork Cyberespionage Group

Hi guys,

We released a new technical paper about a known APT threat actor named "Patchwork".

The blog entry is here, while the full paper is there.

Cheers ! :-)

jeudi 21 septembre 2017

New RETADUP Variants Hit South America, Turn To Cryptocurrency Mining

Hi all,

I have written this blog post in collab with my good friends Kenney and Lenart... ;-)

Available HERE.

jeudi 20 juillet 2017

Android Backdoor GhostCtrl can Silently Record Your Audio, Video, and More

Some days ago we published this blog post. It seems that some cybercriminals are heavily using it at the moment to spy audio conversations. I guess it's pretty interesting.

mercredi 22 mars 2017

Winnti Abuses GitHub for C&C Communications

Hi folks,

I've published a new blog post today on Trend Micro's blog. This is once again about some APT campaign, this time showing some of the new modus operandi from a threat actor named Winnti.

It is available here.

mercredi 14 septembre 2016

The French cybercrime underground

Hi all :-)

I just released a new white paper about the whole french cybercrime underground, available here. The full paper is available here.

jeudi 8 septembre 2016

The French Dark Net Is Looking for Grammar Police

New blog post being released, entitled "The French Dark Net Is Looking for Grammar Police". Hope you will enjoy it ;-)

The french cybercrime underground is definitely surprising... ;-)

lundi 29 août 2016

When Hackers Hack Each Other—A Staged Affair in the French Underground?

Last week one of my new blog post got released here. I hope you will enjoy it, especially the french ones interested in cybercrime ;-)

Cheers !

mardi 12 juillet 2016

French Dark Bets: Betting On Euro 2016

Hi all,

Please be advised I have published a new blog post entitled "French Dark Bets: Betting On Euro 2016"

French people in particular might be interested... ;-)

mardi 1 septembre 2015

New Rocket Kitten research paper

Following my first research paper about the Rocket Kitten APT threat actor, I have released another one, this time as a collaboration work with one researcher from ClearSky.

The blog post is here: Rocket Kitten Spies Target Iranian Lecturer and InfoSec Researchers in New Modus

The full paper is here: The Spy Kittens Are Back : Rocket Kitten 2

mercredi 3 juin 2015

How to Spot Frauds on Professional Networks

Here is another article I wrote, this time to try to raise awareness on some professional networks risks. Link is How to Spot Frauds on Professional Networks

Also, related, is this blog post I wrote: Reconnaissance via Professional Social Networks.

mardi 31 mars 2015

Fake Judicial Spam Leads to Backdoor with Fake Certificate Authority

Here is the link to a new blog post I wrote with friends Kenney Lu and Dark Luo from Trend Micro.

It has several interesting aspects, in my mind:

  • The fact that there is an ongoing campaign against french people, using french material, which is rare enough to be worth mentioning;
  • The fact that there is a kit used to drop different payloads: Gootkit, CryptoWall, some banking trojan...;
  • The fact that it uses an innovating method to infect the victims computers.

Hope you will enjoy the read ! :-)

mercredi 18 mars 2015

Operation Woolen GoldFish

Hi all,

Here is my first research paper done for my new employer, Trend Micro.

I hope you'll enjoy it ! :-)

The blog summary I wrote about the paper is here, while the complete paper can be found here.

jeudi 30 octobre 2014

Looking for a new jersey

Well, as you probably know, I am french. Some of my friends do not agree, and say that I am not a real french, because I do not like strong cheese, I do not like eating ducks (in any way), and all wine tastes the same for me, in opposite to beer. Also, I hate european football, but loooooove american football, my favorite team being the Patriots from New England.

On the other hand, I must admit I have a little kink for american football team's jerseys. I already have one from the Patriots, yet I wanted one from the Miami Dolphins.

So here I am, googling to find a new jersey at an attractive price, in french language.

Using a simple request like "jersey miami dolphins pas cher" which means "jersey miami dolphins cheap" in Google, I get the following as first result:


As you can see, the first results are from "Google Shopping" and do provide links to legitimate websites like

Then, more interestingly, I get results from Google Image. The first image shown, on which my mouse pointer is, leads to a domain named

Following this link, I get a nice page from an online store showing me the jersey of my dreams:


At this point, there are several little details which should raise suspicion for anyone:

  • At the top of the web page, there's a line "Vente de DIR_WS_SEO_KEYWORD" which looks very ugly and unprofessional. Would a real seller really keep this ugly line up there ? Probably not.
  • Look at the price !!! 69% discount on that product !!! It brings the price from 99€ (which is quite the usual price for that product) down to 30.99€.
  • Bad language. I am writing this blog post in english and showing french stuff, ok, but I can tell you that if you go to any page of the web site, you'll see loads of spelling mistakes and even sentences which do not mean anything. The "general conditions" page is a must-read for french people, it is full of language problems.

Clicking on some of the general pages of the web site is quite instructive. In the middle of the description for shipping, written in french, some spanish can be seen: "Aceptamos Visa, Mastercard, Paypal y tarjeta de crédito!" ...

There can only be one conclusion to all of this: this website is fraudulent, selling counterfeit products, and no one should buy products there.

Now if I come back to my Google research, and look at the Google image links on the right of the one I followed, the domains are:


By carefully watching these websites (except for, which to clarify is a real site which has just hosted links to a fraudulent one, and the link has been removed), we could come to the same conclusion: counterfeit products are sold there.

Now one might think that these websites are build up by isolated fraudsters looking for easy money. The reality is a bit different, and that's why I am blogging, I wanted to bring some more insight to this kind of fraud and raise some awareness for people on Internet.

For starters, once again if you look carefully at all pages from such a website, you can find something more interesting than spelling mistakes: links to other websites.

Reading the "shipping info" from for example, the first line mentions that " offre la livraison gratuite" , which means that " offers free shipping".

Why the hell is a website called mentioned in the shipping info of (which by the way means "") ?

Well, the reason for that is that fraudsters do not build a single website to sell counterfeit products. They do build LOADS of different websites. You might think it takes a lot of time to do it, but it takes less than one or two hours to do. These fraudsters do use websites templates, which they just slightly modify from one site to the other. From the single sentence found on, we can expect it to use almost the same template as does not exist anymore, yet just by googling this name you would find interesting stuff : ads for it in guestbooks showing links to other counterfeit products websites, etc... Looking for it on, a website which shows past versions of websites, you would even find that the website has indeed been transfered by judge decision to Louis Vuitton because it was selling counterfeit products.

So, with few googling and wise use of, we already found out that our guys from "" were somehow connected to "".

What else can be found ?

Let's go back to the first website I found,

At the top left part of the website, a logo from the company "NEW ERA" is visible. Let's be a bit clever and use it to find other websites which contain the exact same logo. To do that, we can save the logo from and then submit it to a Google Image search. By doing that, Google will show us all referenced websites which contain the same picture :


Note: what you do not see in the screenshot is the fact that Google Image offers results showing images which are "close" to the image you submit. We need to focus on the exact same image, to avoid false positives. Moreover, if the fraudsters took the image from a legitimate website and did not modify it, we will get false positives we need to remove from the analysis.

Once again, the results are quite interesting: we easily fall on several fake products sellers.

This provides us a very easy method to group fake websites.

Ok, what do we know now ? We know that there are hundreds of websites selling fake products, using more or less the same templates and techniques.

How about having a look at the people who register these domain names ?

Let's have a look at the Whois information for our favorite website,

Registrant Name: mingsheng zheng
Registrant Organization: zhengxiansheng
Registrant Street: haikoulu10
Registrant City: haikou
Registrant State/Province: hainan
Registrant Postal Code: 570100
Registrant Country: CN
Registrant Phone: +86.13800000000
Registrant Phone Ext: 
Registrant Fax: +86.13800000000
Registrant Fax Ext: 
Registrant Email:
Admin Name: mingsheng zheng
Admin Organization: 
Admin Street: haikoulu10
Admin City: haikou
Admin State/Province: hainan
Admin Postal Code: 570100
Admin Country: CN
Admin Phone: +86.13800000000
Admin Phone Ext: 
Admin Fax: +86.13800000000
Admin Fax Ext: 
Admin Email:

Once again, this really does not look like Whois information a legitimate merchant would use: the phone numbers seems to be fake, and the e-mail address is on, yet this is very interesting for us in terms of investigation.

So, by doing some reverse whois researches, we can find 23 domains, additionally to, which have been registered by :


Oh my, our friend "capsshopnet" has counterfeit stuff in french, spanish, and german, what a great linguist, this might explain all the spelling mistakes on these websites ;-)

What about the hosting ? Well, is currently hosted on, which belongs to:

inetnum: -
netname:        SUN-HK
descr:          Sun Network - DataCenter Service
country:        HK
admin-c:        DA179-AP

Let's look at some Passive DNS information. Which other domains have lead to this precise IP address currently or in the past ?

The results are other counterfeit products websites (except for which is about pornographic stuff)

Now let me please represent all this data in a structured form (click to enlarge):

Complex web of counterfeit products domains

I will end this blog post here. I just wanted people to be a bit aware that the underground of counterfeit products is huge, and that few minutes of investigation can lead to the discovery of a complex web of Internet websites run by fraudsters.

One might wonder about the number of people involved in that kind of fraud. There are probably several people to register the websites, several people to build the content (and we can be pretty sure some other people are selling the web pages templates), to handle the orders, to manufacture the products (probably hundreds/thousands of people here), etc.

I stopped my investigation at this point, because it was done on a rainy night at home. A lot is uncovered here: I did not look for every domain whois, I did not look for all the hosting data and IP ranges, I did not really search for any real person attribution.

By digging more on all these data, we could probably find much more fake products websites and persons involved, but once again, my goal here was just to raise awareness on a kind of fraud and describe it a bit.

So what have we learned here ?

  • There are people probably working fulltime on registering websites, building websites (and people making/selling templates), having them indexed on Google and other places (black SEO), to sell counterfeit products coming mostly from China (that's what you discover when you order something), all of this in several different languages.
  • Dozens of websites are handled by the same people
  • These people do sell every kind of products you can think of: fake jerseys, fake tshirts, fake caps, fake shoes, fake handbags, fake sunglasses ... (you can guess it looking at the domain names from the previous image)
  • The fraud is obvious when you take the time to really analyze the content a bit. You should NEVER BUY A PRODUCT WHICH LOOKS AMAZINGLY CHEAP, or from a website with loads of spelling mistakes.

Thank you for your reading, this was some kind of fun post blog I've done in a hurry last night. See you soon ! :-)

mercredi 11 septembre 2013

Malicious activity detection: AV killing

Two months ago, I released a YARA rule and an IOC rule to detect some generic folder dumps files. It has been proven useful in the real world, showing that it is possible to detect some attacks on a host with very easy rules.

Today I had another detection idea, as basic as the previous one. It is based on my experience in malware analysis and incident response, so I hope it will be helpful to other incident responders, especially when they work on APT attacks.

As you might know, some malware, in addition to every malicious activity they can provide, do deactivate the anti-virus running on the system. Usually, these malware are easily noticeable because (once depacked) they show strings which are known anti-virus processes names.

Some examples are:

  • drweb32.exe
  • avscan.exe
  • etc...

These malware do usually know between 10 and 40 processes names that they absolutely want to kill.

Therefore, the idea is to try to detect any binary which contains these processes names.

I looked a bit around and found that Jerome Athias had released a "killav.rb" script in Metasploit. He provides us with 579 different processes names, all related to security tools and anti-virus products.

I asked Jerome and he kindly allowed me to use that list to build the YARA rule I was thinking of (with a bit of Python, it would have taken too long by hand of course).

The rule is built so that it will be triggered if 4 or more strings are found.

Please feel free to tweet me (@cedricpernet) or e-mail me any missing process name (there must be plenty) and I will update the rule accordingly. Also, if it triggers false positives, do not hesitate to reach me.

The YARA rule is here.

jeudi 29 août 2013

More on the G20 Summit Espionage Operation

On a recent blog post, Claudio Guarnieri analyzes an APT attack campaign launched by the "Calc Group".

This group of attackers used the soon-coming "G20 Summit" to spear phish their targets. which are mostly financial institutions and governments. The attack in itself is really not sophisticated, it is just made of an archive file (.ZIP) containing a malicious executable file (.EXE).

The names of the zip files are:

  • G20 Briefing
  • G20 Summit

These archives contains the following files:

  • G20 Discussion Paper.exe
  • GPFI Work Plan 2013.exe
  • G20 Summit Improving global confidence and support the globa.EXE
  • Improving global confidence and support.pdf.exe
  • The list of NGOs representatives accredited at the Press Center of The G20 Leaders' Summit 2013.pdf.exe

One might be surprised that people really do open such zip files and click on these executables, but believe me, some people still do. Once again, it shows us that it is not necessary to deploy brilliant strategies to infect people with targeted malware.

Claudio makes a great analyse of these attacks in his blog post, so I won't write about it and let you read it instead. Now what I wanted to know was what happened next. I was especially interested in the second attack, because it had been submitted to Virus Total (VT) from France.

To summarize Claudio's analysis, the attack scheme goes like this :

  • The victim gets the zip file, opens it, and executes the malicious executable.
  • The executable shows a decoy document (PDF) about the G20 or such.
  • The executable starts keylogging and downloads more malware.

This last point is very important to me: what malware is downloaded, and why? (the "why" can be expected though...)

To quote Claudio, "these samples are just an initial stage of a larger suite of malware, possibly including Aumlib and Ixeshe, which it will try to download from a fixed list of URLs embedded in the binary".

Luckily enough, the second stage malware was still available and I could download it for analysis. It turns out that it is not an "AumLib" or an "Ixeshe", but a variant of a less known malware, called "Bisonha" by the malware researcher's community.

To bypass anti-virus and IDS/IPS products, it is downloaded "upside down" (the first byte becomes the last byte, etc.) and written locally as a regular executable once it is downloaded successfully, then executed.

The file shows a "Java" icon, to try to look more "legitimate" to users. At the time of writing, the sample I downloaded had not been submitted to Virus Total, so I did. The detection rate for this sample is 12/46.

This malware has no persistence mechanism (the first stage downloader makes it persistent), and once executed starts communicating with an IP address on port 443:

/300100000000F0FD1F003746374637433731333433363334333600484F4D45000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000070155736572000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000006444000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 HTTP/1.1
User-Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Connection: Keep-Alive
Cache-Control: no-cache

As you can see, the network traffic is on port 443 (HTTPS) but it is definitely no HTTPS traffic, rather hex-encoded data:

0000000: 0000 0000 f0fd 1f00 3746 3746 3743 3731  ........7F7F7C71
0000010: 3334 3336 3334 3336 0048 4f4d 4500 0000  34363436.HOME...
0000020: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
0000030: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
0000040: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
0000050: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0007 0155 7365 7200  ...........User.
0000060: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
0000070: 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  ................
0000080: 0064 4400 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000  .dD.............
0000090: 0000 0000 0000 0000                      ........

My reverse engineering rockstar friend Fabien Perigaud had a closer look at the malware and provided me with more information:

Offset: 0x4: RAM size in kilobytes
Offset: 0x8: Hard-drive ID, xored with the machine name then hex-encoded
Offset: 0x19: Machine name
Offset: 0x59: Operating system version (in malware author's writing)
Offset: 0x60: Number of processors
Offset: 0x61: User name
Offset: 0x81: A unique identifier (probably used as a campaign identifier?) - Here it is "dD" but other two characters identifiers have been witnessed in the wild.

The commands which can be sent to the malware are sent in answer:

3004: File writing
3005: File reading
3006: Writing and execution of a file

3115 : provide a shell

3222 : write a new ID in %APPDATA%\recycle.ini 
3223 : auto deletion of the malware
3224 : update

This quick analysis shows us that no matter how deep your knowledge is about an attacker, you're never safe from seeing him change his methods completely. That is why APT attacks attribution is such a hard task.

Thanks to Fabien, Jesse, Brian and Ned for the help while writing this small post ;-)

EDIT: (2013/09/04) Satnam Narang from Symantec just posted interesting material about the same APT campaign. You can read it here. In few words, Poison Ivy RAT is also in the game ;)

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