Formbook

5
Global rank
10
Month rank
14
Week rank
571876
IOCs

FormBook is a data stealer that is being distributed as a MaaS. FormBook differs from a lot of competing malware by its extreme ease of use that allows even the unexperienced threat actors to use FormBook virus.

Stealer
Type
Unknown
Origin
1 January, 2016
First seen
3 June, 2023
Last seen

How to analyze Formbook with ANY.RUN

Stealer
Type
Unknown
Origin
1 January, 2016
First seen
3 June, 2023
Last seen

IOCs

IP addresses
151.101.2.132
64.190.63.111
192.243.61.225
188.114.97.3
188.114.96.3
13.32.121.46
141.193.213.20
141.193.213.21
13.107.246.45
18.66.112.107
34.117.168.233
66.96.160.128
199.60.103.30
213.186.33.5
208.91.196.46
34.141.48.9
143.204.98.62
34.102.136.180
151.139.128.10
199.59.243.223
Hashes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cloud.cache.wpscdn.com
security.debian.org
java-decompiler.github.io
njxyro.ddns.net
msedge.b.tlu.dl.delivery.mp.microsoft.com
launchpad-wrapper.privacymanager.io
cmp-consent-tool.privacymanager.io
ads.adthrive.com
cdn.lamp.avct.cloud
api.lab.amplitude.com
tag.wetransfer.com
nolan.wetransfer.net
yrbv3w.sweetlabds.com
edgeassetservice.azureedge.net
email.email.pandadoc.net
client-config-service.btor.co
cdn-assets.bittorrent.com
192-168-100-240.otmn.direct.quickconnect.to
192-168-100-240.otmn.direct.quickconnect.to
www.hubspot.com
Last Seen at

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What is FormBook malware?

FormBook stealer is an infostealer‍ trojan available as a malware-as-service. This malware is often used by attackers with low technical literacy and little programming knowledge. FormBook can be used to steal various information from infected machines.

Despite how easy it is to set up and use, the malware has advanced stealing and evasion functions including the ability to pull stored and recorded user input. In addition, the FormBook stealer is capable of searching for, viewing, and interacting with files, and taking screenshots. Even though the stealing capability of this virus can be considered somewhat average, its ease of operation, the injection schema, and a set of effective measures that the malware takes to avoid detection by antivirus software made FormBook a popular virus in the hacker community and, unfortunately, its popularity is only continuing to rise in 2019.

General description of the FormBook stealer

Written in C and x86 assembly language, FormBook is sold as a PHP control panel and can be purchased on highly accessible online forums for merely 30 dollars.

Uniquely, unlike the majority of existing viruses that exploit the latest vulnerabilities or zero-days, FormBook can inject into processes and set up function hooks utilizing already known issues. Hence the claim made by the makers, that the virus will work flawlessly regardless of the Windows version.

Together with its stealer functionality and evasion techniques, the virus knows how to execute instructions from a control server that includes starting new processes, their injection, and rebooting the victim’s PC. What’s more, the virus is able to record Windows’ ntdll.dll module into memory and call it directly, which makes API monitoring and user-mode hooking almost insufficient.

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FormBook malware analysis

A video simulation recorded on the ANY.RUN interactive malware analysis service allows us to take an in-depth look at the behavior of this clever virus and other malware such as Dridex and Lokibot with their elaborate anti-evasion techniques.

formbook execution process graph

Figure 1: Processes created by FormBook during execution as shown by ANY.RUN simulation

  • As shown by the ANY.RUN simulation, firstly the virus established connection to the CnC server;
  • After this, a malicious executable file, in this analysis's case pretending to be a .png is being dropped or overwritten and executed;
  • Then, FormBook proceeds to steal the personal data and change the autorun value in the registry. Also, the virus loads DLL from Mozilla Firefox creates files in the user directory, and starts CMD.EXE to set up persistence and later begin process injection;
  • Finally, injected Firefox.exe is executed for logging keystrokes, stealing clipboard data, and extracting authentication information from browser HTTP sessions.

Distribution of the FormBook stealer

According to FormBook analysis, malware is usually distributed via email campaigns that utilized a wide array of infecting mechanisms and can contain a number of various file attachments. Among the most commonly observed attachments are either PDFs, DOC or EXE, or ZIP, RAR, ACE, and ISO files.

Campaigns in which the virus is distributed through files with PDF extensions are known to utilize shipping-related themes and usually include a download link that points at the malicious code instead of the actual virus. DOC and EXE campaigns utilize macros to install and run the virus. Often, the virus is retrieved as a .PDF file in such a case. Finally, archive campaigns are considered to be the most common attack vector for this virus and usually revolve around a business-related theme, such as a payment order. In the case of this attack vector, attachments either contain a link to the FormBook stealer EXE file or install and run the virus on victims' PCs directly.

In 2020 Formbook has become quite popular as it used Covid-themed emails for decoys with subject headings such as “Government Response to Coronavirus Covid-19”.

FormBook execution process

Sandbox simulation performed on the ANY.RUN interactive malware hunting service allows us to detect and investigate the behavior of FormBook in a lot of detail.

text report of the formbook malware analysis

Figure 2: A text report generated by ANY.RUN

After downloading the malicious file the only thing needed to start the contamination is for the file to be opened. In a case when Microsoft Office file (doc, xls, rtf) is used as an infection source, after it is opened the malware exploits the CVE-2017-11882 vulnerability, thus Microsoft Office Equation Editor proceeds to download a malicious executable file and run it.

After infecting the victim's PC, the virus copies and renames itself into a directory that differs based on the privileges of the user. If an admin account is used, the virus installs itself in either %ProgramFiles% or %CommonProgramFiles%. On the other hand, if the privileges are not elevated, then the virus will copy itself into %TEMP% or %APPDATA.

Also, Formbook trojan changes the autorun value in the registry depending on is it was running with normal or elevated privileges. Next, the malware copies itself into a directory it proceeds to check if it’s being run on a virtual machine or analyzed, evaluating the best anti-evasion option that can be utilized in a particular situation. Meanwhile, the virus will try to evaluate the USERNAME environment variable to find out if it’s launched in simulation, while also checking for the presence of debuggers. It should be noted that the malware uses particularly clever techniques while performing an analysis, for example, all shared strings such as command server names are decoded only briefly if they are absolutely required, which makes FormBook highly elusive. In the next step, the virus uses the same injection method to an active explorer.exe process which is only employed as a non-permanent staging ground.

The virus occasionally performs injections into web browser processes and explorer.exe. After injecting into the process, the virus chooses a random application from a static list. Then, the virus proceeds to run the chosen application in suspended mode and copy itself in the address space of the suspended process, thus mimicking a genuine Microsoft process. Next, the virus exits the original process which leaves FormBook's dead code in explorer.exe as a result. From this stage, new FormBook processes can inject targeted applications like web browser processes, which in the case of this particular ANY.RUN simulation is Firefox.

Depending on the objective process, the virus can establish various function hooks. Being run from inside the context of an already generated process, the virus starts to go through every currently active process, trying to identify targeted programs. As soon as a target is found, FormBook will inject itself into it and install a particular set of API hooks, that are based on the target program. The data is then saved in files in the %APPDATA% directory until it is sent to the C&C server. Pay attention to this function to detect malware.

How to avoid infection by FormBook?

The best counteraction technique is to exhibit caution when receiving emails with attachments from unknown senders. Attackers usually use social engineering to trick victims into downloading and opening infected files.

Deleting any suspicious emails from the inbox is a good way to stay safe. If the infection is already detected, a good practice is to carry out an analysis of all devices connected to the network for established CnC or potentially malicious URL connections. Once a suspicious email is received, perimeter settings can be adjusted to block all related emails in the future. Finally, if an infected file is already downloaded, the host should be quarantined until the threat is completely mitigated.

How to detect Formbook using ANY.RUN?

Formbook trojan usually injects into explorer.exe and another processes from the list, such as firefox.exe and msiexec.exe. Knowing this malware's function you can take a look at the process tree after a while during execution and easily determine either the sample is Formbook or not.

formbook execution process tree Figure 3: A tree of processes created by Formbook during its execution

Conclusion

Thanks to extreme ease of use and low cost, FormBook is gaining traction in the criminal community. Not only is the virus's functionality freely accessible for download on open hacker forums and easy to set up without any programming knowledge, but it also comes equipped with some highly advanced anti-evasion techniques, that make detecting it with anti-virus software ultra-difficult. ANY.RUN interactive malware hunting service enables to study FormBook in detail from a secure environment and implement cybersecurity measures accordingly.

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