Gootkit

Gootkit is an advanced banking trojan. It is extremely good at evading detection and has an incredibly effective persistence mechanism, making it a dangerous malware that researchers and organizations should be aware of.

Type
Trojan
Origin
Unknown
First seen
1 June, 2014
Last seen
16 September, 2022
Also known as
Waldek
Xswkit
Talalpek
Global rank
34
Week rank
42
Month rank
41
IOCs
1382

What is Gootkit malware?

Gootkit is a banking trojan – a malware created to steal banking credentials. In fact, Gootkit is classified as one top sophisticated banking trojan ever created. It relies on complex anti-evasion and persistence mechanisms, as well as complex techniques like dynamic web injections.

Since its initial discovery in 2014, Gootkit has been utilized in multiple attacks that targeted bank accounts across Europe, some of which were very destructive.

Gootkit is known to affect the most widely used web-browsers, namely IE, Firefox, and Chrome. Interestingly, this trojan is coded mostly using the node.js programming language – not the first choice for most operators. What’s more, while many similar malicious programs heavily utilize leaked source code of older samples, the virus appears to be written almost 100% from scratch.

General description of Gootkit

The roots of this malware go all the way back to 2010 when what can be called the predecessor of Gootkit was first documented. Classified at the time as an information stealer which did not pose a significant danger, Gootkit has since evolved into a full-fledged banking V.

The malware has been documented in its present form of a trojan since 2014, involved in attacks targeting both private and corporate victims in Europe, mainly targeting banks in France and England. However, Spanish and Italian banks have also been reportedly attacked.

Unlike some other trojan, Gootkit is not available for sale on the internet. Its code hasn’t been leaked, and a Russian-speaking group of hackers has carried out all attacks involving this malware.

Creators of the Gootkit trojan have implemented some of the most cutting-edge anti-evasion tricks to ensure the payload will stay hidden for as long as possible and prevent successful analysis by cybersecurity researchers. Comprised of two main parts, the dropper and the trojan itself – the virus carries out sandbox checks on every stage of its life cycle. Meaning that both the dropper and the actual trojan have unique anti-evasion procedures.

Once the dropper makes its way into a machine, it will conduct the initial VM check, making sure that the malware is not being launched in a virtual environment. This is achieved by verifying the system’s processor value inside the Windows Registry by checking for specific names of virtual servers. In addition, BIOS is also checked to find any values which could point at the malware being launched on a VM. If the malware detects that it is not being launched on a real machine, it terminates all activities and connects to the control server to blacklist the endpoint it was launched in.

However, if the initial test is passed, the loader installs the main Gootkit executable, which, in turn, repeats some of the previous checks while adding several new ones. In one of the new checks, the malware checks the whitelist of names admissible for the CPU to determine that a VM name is absent from the list. Following this test, the malware scans to find VMWare, VBOX, or SONI values on IDE/SCSI hard drives.

Such thorough virtual machine checks are not the only jack up the sleeve that Gootkit has regarding evasion. To increase the success rate of installs, the malware creators frequently make modifications to the generic trojan, changing the targeted processes for injections and filetypes of the executable.

For example, instead of running an .exe file, some samples of Gootkit load a DLL directly into a target process. What’s more, while the majority of malware select the explorer.exe process as their injection target, Gootkit targets a service host (svchost) process instead. Presumably, this is done to further evade detections since injecting into a process with several instances makes Gootkit easier to hide.

In addition to advanced anti-detection methods, Gootkit malware employs equally sophisticated persistence techniques to ensure that its deletion from an infected machine will prove as complicated as possible. The malware provides two main persistence mechanisms, which are used depending on the available system rights. When launched from an admin account, Gootkit can mimic a Windows service with a random name, which helps to confuse users. This way, it can launch before a victim logs on and continues running even after logging off.

However, if launched from a least-privilege user account, the virus writes itself as a scheduled task and a random name. This task is programmed to run every minute and on every boot, ensuring that the malware will remain on a machine after antivirus software scans and system reboots.

Gootkit malware analysis

A video of the simulation that was recorded in the ANY.RUN malware hunting service allows us to perform an analysis of the execution of Gootkit and see this virus in action as well as Danabot or Pony. Moreover, you can investigate the vast malware database in the public submissions, too. The video is available here.

gootkit execution process graph

Figure 1: the lifecycle of Gootkit can be viewed in a visual format on the process graph generated by the ANY.RUN online analysis sandbox.

text report of the gootkit malware analysis

Figure 2: This text report is available at this link provides more detailed information about Gootkit execution processes, artifacts, and more.

Gootkit execution process

Gootkit often gets into the system as an email attachment in the form of a Microsoft Word file. After the user opens the malicious file, it starts Powershell to download the main payload.

It should be noted that in some cases, Gootkit postpones the execution by putting itself in scheduled tasks. After the main payload execution starts, Gootkit unpacks and launches itself. This process provides the main malicious activity - stealing personal information, downloading other malware, grabbing video of the victim’s desktop, hijacking banking credentials, keys loading, connecting to C2 servers, and so on. In the given example, Gootkit also uses WMIC.EXE to obtain a list of AntiViruses.

Distribution of Gootkit trojan loader

Gootkit utilizes multiple attack vectors to infect its victims, including popular exploit kits like Neutrino and Angler, allowing the malware to get into machines with not-up-to-date operating systems.

The second used attack vector is email spam, where Gootkit is delivered to users as a malicious email attachment. Social engineering is used to trick the user into downloading the malicious file.

How to avoid infection by Gootkit?

Several online safety rules can be followed to greatly reduce the risk of infection by malware such as Gootkit. For instance, users are advised to install the freshest OS updates and update applications that users utilize regularly.

At the same time, those applications that are rarely opened should be deleted from the machine. In addition, it is advised to disable ads in the browser and avoid visiting suspicious websites. Furthermore, if a private inbox is used at work instead of a corporate one, a user should restrain from sending sensitive information to and from this personal email address.

It should be noted that opening email attachments in suspicious emails always poses a high risk of injection. Therefore users must never run suspicious programs downloaded from emails sent from unrecognized addresses.

How to export Gootkit data using ANY.RUN?

If the analyst wants to do additional work with events from tasks or share them with colleagues, they can export to different formats. Just click on the "Export" button and choose the most suitable format in the drop-down menu.

options for export events from tasks with gootkit Figure 3: Options for export events from tasks with Gootkit

Conclusion

Although Gootkit is responsible for a negligible percentage of the overall attacks by financial malware, this trojan should be considered an extremely high-risk danger. Thanks to its sophisticated persistence and anti-evasion functions, it is capable of potentially very damaging attacks.

What’s more, following the trojan development over the years, it is safe to assume that its evolution will continue. Cybercriminals behind the malware will keep producing ways to evade modern security solutions.

That’s why utilizing the most reliable and cutting edge analysis tools, such as the ANY.RUN malware hunting service can be a key to setting up a secure cyber defense against serious threats like Gootkit. Check the service's malware database to find out about other malicious programs.

IOCs

IP addresses
85.214.228.140
185.158.248.151
5.45.66.39
37.1.207.160
5.45.71.227
37.1.218.243
185.238.168.33
216.218.135.114
5.45.68.138
216.218.185.162
216.218.208.114
5.61.58.180
185.158.248.226
5.45.80.139
185.158.248.133
31.214.157.162
185.44.105.78
5.61.34.67
5.61.34.67
5.45.85.133
Hashes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activeterroristwarningcompany.com
majul.com
ticket.ipv10.eu
3jkpvk2m8y.dattolocal.net
isns.net
oththukaruva.com
dave-rentre.xyz
elx01.knas.systems
njxyro.ddns.net
booking.msg.bluhotels.com
booking.msg.bluhotels.com
qxq.ddns.net
bestpickr.com
lopoloda.xyz
bi.bisrv.com
192-168-100-240.otmn.direct.quickconnect.to
192-168-100-240.otmn.direct.quickconnect.to
idaswar.xyz
rbg4hfbilrf7to452p89hrfq.boonmower.com
opleolips.xyz

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