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
30 July, 2021
Also known as
Predator Pain
HawkEye Reborn
Global rank
8
Week rank
21
Month rank
25
IOCs
3037

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. 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 is able to set 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, where the malware is distributed as a malicious attachment, usually a Microsoft Word document. 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
104.16.155.36
66.171.248.178
162.241.253.78
104.16.154.36
45.141.152.18
111.118.215.253
198.54.114.129
50.87.253.146
198.54.125.159
204.11.58.87
129.121.5.240
68.65.122.138
217.66.226.116
103.21.58.156
198.38.82.11
198.54.115.205
207.174.213.181
162.210.70.9
173.237.185.55
103.27.200.199
Hashes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e8960.b.akamaiedge.net
isns.net
smtp.jpoco.net
smtp.erneralduae.com
smtp.taiemerica.com
smtp.blackpyramid.xyz
smtp.brandenburggruppe-de.com
smtp.solartorbines.com
smtp.iklea-res.com
smtp.ibtbrussel.eu
smtp.elittacop.com
smtp.cpmindia.co.in
smtp.greenhornechem.com
smtp.auroraallimentos-br.com
smtp.xideshengs.com
smtp.morocolor.in
smtp.j2res0urces.com
smtp.ikrrispharmanetwork.com
smtp.skybarnds.net
smtp.gci-nit.com

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