Hawkeye

Hawkeye often gets installed in a bundle with other malware. This is a Trojan and keylogger that is used to retrieve private information such as passwords and login credentials. This is an advanced malware that features strong anti-evasion functions.

Type
Keylogger
Origin
Unknown
First seen
1 January, 2013
Last seen
16 May, 2022
Also known as
Predator Pain
HawkEye Reborn
Global rank
12
Week rank
35
Month rank
30
IOCs
3160

What is Hawkeye malware?

Hawkeye, also known as Predator Pain, is a dangerous trojan and keylogger - a malware used to steal information from PCs. It has very advanced detection evasion and information stealing functionality. Hawkeye can be combined with other malicious software to steal passwords from email clients and web browsers.

Available as a service on the dark web, Hawkeye can be used even by non-technically savvy attackers. In addition, this malware is known to have been advertised for some time on the general Internet on its own website, which today is unavailable. What’s more, the creators of Hawkeye have developed a unique business model in which intermediaries are used for reselling the malware.

General description of Hawkeye

Hawkeye keylogger is capable of stealing a variety of information from the victim's PC, including passwords from mail clients, web browsers, and bitcoin wallet information, as ransomware does. Furthermore, this malware can take screenshots, have a keylogger functionality, and retrieve data from the Internet download manager to employ JDownloader to steal passwords.

Predator Pain targets victims worldwide, but its attacks are being registered most often in the countries with the wealthiest economies, according to the GPD data, such as the USA, Canada, Italy, and others.

Hawkeye keylogger employs a sophisticated technique to stay hidden from the antiviruses called process hollowing. In essence, the Trojan generates a new instance of a harmless process to swap the native code with a malicious one subsequently. The 8 version of Hawkeye keylogger is different from previous iterations of the malware. Instead of running the main malicious code as a new process, the latest build injects the payload into MSBuild.exe, RegAsm.exe, and VBC.exe, which are a part of the .NET framework, enabling the virus to further disguises itself as a real and harmless process.

Another difference between the newest Predator Pain version from the older ones is that instead of being written in C, now it uses .NET and calls the native Windows API directly.

The primary function of the Hawkeye keylogger is to record the key and mouse presses along with window context and clipboard data. In addition, the malware has special modules that allow it to derive information from certain applications, including a popular video game Minecraft, the FTP client FileZilla and others.

Somewhat standardly, Predator Pain utilizes real BrowserPassView and MailPassView tools to save data from browsers and emails. In addition, the malware is able to activate and take control of the webcam if the infected machine has one connected.

To prevent detection and analysis, Hawkeye comes equipped with a series of anti-evasion tools besides processes hollowing. For instance, the malware sets a delay before being executed, which helps it trick some of the automated sandbox analysis tools. It also comes equipped with a technique that targets specific antivirus processes and stops them from executing and blocks access to several domains used by antivirus programs for updating.

What’s more, the malware takes active steps to prevent the victim from disabling its own processes by taking control over command prompt, registry editor, and task manager. At the same time, Hawkeye constantly scans the computer for other malicious programs and instantly deletes them if found.

Hawkeye keylogger malware analysis

The execution process of the Predator Pain keylogger can be reviewed in a lot of detail in a video recorded in the ANY.RUN malware hunting service

hawkeye execution process graph

Figure 1. a visual process graph generated by ANY.RUN allows reviewing the lifecycle of the Hawkeye quickly

text report of the hawkeye malware analysis

Figure 2. ANY.RUN also allows researchers to generate customizable text reports which are a great way to present the analysis results

Hawkeye execution process

hawkeye execution process tree

Figure 3. Execution processes of Hawkeye as displayed by the ANY.RUN malware hunting service

Hawkeye keylogger usually reaches users' devices through phishing emails, most commonly as a malicious Microsoft Office file, such as Docx file. After the user opens the downloaded file, it either asks the user to enable macros or uses vulnerabilities to download and execute the main payload. In most cases, it downloads itself into the %AppData% folder. To maintain its presence, the malware adds itself to the autorun registry. It also uses process hollowing to hide its code in legitimate processes. For example, the 8 version of Hawkeye, presented in the video from our simulation, injects itself into MSBuild.exe, RegAsm.exe, or VBC.exe. Before sending information to the control server, Hawkeye saves stolen data in Tmp files into the %Temp% folder. Usually, these Tmp files are deleted after the information is sent to a control server.

stolen by hawkeye data saved in tmp file

Figure 4. Information saved in .TMP file

How to avoid infection by Hawkeye?

Following some common online hygiene guidelines is a good way to stay safe from getting infected with Hawkeye. In addition, users should be careful when downloading free software from unknown or suspicious websites and carefully check the URLs when downloading any software in general.

In addition, after receiving a suspicious email or an email from an unidentified sender, users should be cautious when downloading attachments. Although the opened document prompts the user to enable macros or activate the editing, users must never follow these instructions as they most likely indicate the file's malicious nature.

Distribution of Hawkeye

Hawkeye trojan uses multiple distribution methods, including packaging within free downloadable programs or disguised as legitimate software. Hawkeye can also be installed on the victim’s PC manually if the attacker gains remote or physical access to the machine.

However, the most commonly used distribution method is email phishing, the same as ransomware, where the malware is distributed as a malicious attachment, usually a Microsoft Word document. The technique is used by different malware including Ursnif and Raccoon. Known phishing campaigns usually revolve around notifications regarding an issue with a real product, quotation requests, payment orders, or random or personal, disturbing topics aimed at tricking the victim into downloading the attachment.

In most cases, the Microsoft Office opens the document with a warning, and Hawkeye displays a message prompting to enable editing. Thus, the user must interact with to make the trojan start the execution process. However, in some other cases, the malware uses Microsoft Office exploits, allowing Hawkeye to start the execution without any user interaction.

How to detect Hawkeye using ANY.RUN?

This malware creates files that allow analysts to say for sure that this is Hawkeye. First, click on the malicious process in the process tree and then click the "More info" button. Then on the upper-right corner of the "Events" panel, switch from "Friendly" to "Raw." Now you see all operations with files that were performed by a chosen process. Often, this malware family tries to create files with "Reborn" in their names. And based on that type, you can determine that it is Hawkeye.

files created by hawkeye Figure 5: Files created by Hawkeye

Conclusion

Carrying extremely advanced anti-evasion techniques and robust info-stealing functionality, Hawkeye presents a danger to corporations and individuals all around the globe. Unfortunately, the distribution of malware as a service allows even non-technically savvy cybercriminals to set up effective attack campaigns, contributing to the overall popularity of the virus.

Furthermore, Hawkeye trojan uses a set of special techniques to complicate the analysis and trick automated analysis services and confuse the development of countermeasures.

However, interactive analysis services like ANY.RUN gives researchers the ability to examine malware even as elusive as Hawkeye is and conduct effective studies.

IOCs

IP addresses
45.141.152.18
104.16.154.36
103.21.59.9
104.16.155.36
148.72.88.25
198.54.115.43
145.14.145.4
103.21.58.15
192.145.239.39
198.38.82.11
198.187.29.26
103.21.59.28
204.11.58.87
210.245.90.251
23.94.30.178
66.70.204.222
108.170.60.107
145.14.144.20
162.241.169.155
162.241.148.33
Hashes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new2sportnews.com
majul.com
e8960.b.akamaiedge.net
vcctggqm3t.dattolocal.net
smtp.vlsc-shipping.com
mail.sjwireind.com
smtp.autocliima.com
smtp.knmbz.com
smtp.clrakmheu.com
smtp.timbreartdeslgn.com
smtp.aryalremit.com
elx01.knas.systems
smtp.recornit.com
smtp.maizinternational.com
smtp.telenor-com.xyz
smtp.pdcblt.net
smtp.raymond-john.com
smtp.ametexegypts.info
smtp.nutritionauctores.com
smtp.radiologyauctores.com

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