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
19 January, 2021
Also known as
Predator Pain
HawkEye Reborn
Global rank
8
Week rank
21
Month rank
25
IOCs
2880

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 in the general internet on its own website which today is unavailable. What’s more, 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 and web browsers and bitcoin wallet information. Furthermore, this malware can take screenshots, has a keylogger functionality and can retrieve data from Internet download manager as employ JDownloader to steal passwords.

Predator Pain targets victims worldwide, but it’s attacks are being registered most often in the countries with the wealthiest economies according to the GPD data, such as the USA, Canda, 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 subsequently swap the native code with a malicious one. The 8 version of Hawkeye keylogger is different from previous iterations of the malware in that instead of running the main malicious code as 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 of the newest Predator Pain version from the older ones is that instead of being written in C, it now uses .NET and calls the native Windows API directly.

The primary function of 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 to quickly review the lifecycle of the Hawkeye

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. The 8 version of Hawkeye, which is presented in the video from our simulation, injects itself either into MSBuild.exe, RegAsm.exe, or VBC.exe. Before sending information to the control server, Hawkeye saves stolen data in Tmp files which are placed 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. 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 very careful when downloading attachments. If when opened, the document prompts the user to enable macros or activate the editing, users must never follow these instructions as they most likely indicate the malicious nature of the file.

Distribution of Hawkeye

Hawkeye trojan uses multiple distribution methods including packaging within free downloadable programs or being disguised as legitimate software. Hawkeye can also be installed on the victim’s PC manually if the attacker gains either 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 that were aimed at tricking the victim to download the attachment.

In most cases, the Microsoft Office opens the document with a warning and Hawkeye displays a message prompting to enable editing, which the user must interact with in order for the trojan to start the execution process. In some other cases hower, 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 to analysts say for sure that this is Hawkeye. Click on the malicious process in the process tree and then click "More info" button. 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 of that 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 serious 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 in particular – trick automated analysis services and complicating 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
104.16.154.36
108.179.194.93
162.222.225.59
162.222.225.57
66.171.248.178
103.21.59.170
104.16.155.36
198.54.115.141
162.222.225.58
173.254.28.204
162.241.148.33
207.174.213.181
148.72.88.25
198.38.82.11
5.144.130.34
198.54.125.159
145.14.144.15
145.14.144.20
145.14.145.124
66.96.130.119
Hashes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e8960.b.akamaiedge.net
isns.net
smtp.weldall.mn
smtp.imp-powers.com
smtp.mailmarketer.in
smtp.saicomindia.com
smtp.anapobolivia.org
smtp.bcbbhd.com.my
smtp.timesmarketing.com
smtp.aptsamriddhi.com
smtp.parkleton.com
smtp.cismysore.in
smtp.shrilakshmi.in
smtp.caisa.com.mx
smtp.stacy.lk
smtp.rosekandy.net
smtp.castletoyota.co.in
smtp.siani.com.mx
smtp.pyramidtech.net
smtp.evatours.travel

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