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IOCs

NanoCore is a Remote Access Trojan or RAT. This malware is highly customizable with plugins which allow attackers to tailor its functionality to their needs. Nanocore is created with the .NET framework and it’s available for purchase for just $25 from its “official” website.

Trojan
Type
USA
Origin
1 January, 2013
First seen
22 May, 2024
Last seen

How to analyze Nanocore with ANY.RUN

Type
USA
Origin
1 January, 2013
First seen
22 May, 2024
Last seen

IOCs

Hashes
9829c2298ab32875e7379274c578fcbffcddaa36a262c74f69d113217913e5ca
ac4c7ba0c123892b9376b9365a5429421a21be8ceff9d0df620f3f2bb38b84a9
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56370fb64b05cc316eaa1ab45d3fd48c00f35eb63c2073323d022f413af3c528
934ca9d4f96a6187b3c34e81fb8f9aff3ee004ae43daebc251899f8ef667efd9
d3b9faa8976be9625bb29d544f2d771ca636b186733d42dcb7db02f5ec03c371
9e815245ce872878076b45416b2c1c1a8a8a9799e993000612065247bf3eec5b
8f53c94b274d036074a1688724aa1701e412ee1e5658acf96c82e4fefedd7a14
a3d233a87114b7ff5648e4ee135c6fc69245c2a2b9c37dd7e340f3de5864f946
39948f931073f39e46b46b69959d7b072b0352a0628132a8a89fd068d31bd66d
b26f129b998c740667604494d126f3f21c37171a1d3a2999090e2dfb6dfee113
a9eead538581c0d60d2d3f5afea21fb7e6bba4e866d13d9de3e4762df25ed528
8b287d550f9f17f8598fd07f1e6042df0ca46b20ed1515219ac44eb61d5dbe2e
0badcffac9a50e18ae6d8c930cf85a0b34b650e8de2fb16bcc423f513363164f
6d0db57ba1798cf106af7f94f9ea367ba71dcfe29e93d3f07056fc6a95ac6742
0f1add8ff7645b4ada844e54262d048195edfdc0461a005ecf77067bec056ea5
075df2f7d73a01ad4b5e450c50d455235174f175d3b35b131a103decf805e5f0
c238d178900dbe6133d8c9e76c40a9abe311ab9b5d33c52fda09bcabc46a2215
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c1ffc1401ec94705eefd0d7e204e74cc26179fb7d23b6305cb26bef0446acbc5
Domains
myhop.hopto.org
whois.dzbc.org
URLs
http://lazyshare.net/PluginStats/Functions/newLog.php
http://lazyshare.net/PluginStats/Functions/checkInstall.php
http://lazyshare.net/PluginStats/Functions/getPluginName.php
Last Seen at

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What is NanoCore malware?

NanoCore is a Remote Access Trojan or RAT. This malware is highly customizable with plugins that allow attackers to tailor its functionality to their needs. Nanocore is created with the .NET framework and it’s available for purchase for just $25 from its “official” website.

This malware was recorded in the wild for the first time in 2013. Since then it has become extremely popular. It is now used in attacks all around the world. As a modular malware, the functionality of the NanoCore backdoor can be greatly expanded with plugins. This makes an already dangerous RAT potentially even more destructive for the company's cybersecurity.

Distributed on its own website with 24/7 technical support for just $25 with all official plugins included, the malware can also be downloaded from hacking forums where its "cracked" version has been leaked multiple times, making it an extremely accessible trojan to set up and use. Unfortunately, the accessibility, ease of use, and a bunch of information on NanoCore are still contributing to its growing popularity. It’s not completely certain whether the malware was being developed as a commercial program for institutions, or the creator had a goal to create malicious software from the beginning, Regardless, NanoCore author, Taylor Huddleston was tracked down and arrested by the FBI.

General Information about NanoCore RAT

According to the analysis, NanoCore’s first beta appeared in 2013. The latest version of the malware is being openly sold on its own website NANOCORE_dot_io. Unfortunately, this helped ensure the high popularity of the malware. Today NanoCore RAT targets victims worldwide. However, the majority of attacks are taking place in the US.

One of the key characteristics of this RAT is that technically savvy attackers are able to greatly expand the functionality of the malware, fine-tuning it to suit their needs, for instance, by adding screen locker functionality to the virus. Some essential plugins are already provided with the purchase bundle on the “official” website. Other even more sophisticated ones are being developed by the community of cybercriminals, that has formed around NanoCore.

For crooks that don’t want to engage in fiddling with plugins, NanoCore provides a straightforward user interface It allows even novice criminals to launch potentially destructive malicious campaigns. Thus further contributing to the popularity of the malware.

Interactive analysis of NanoCore

A video of the execution process provided by ANY.RUN malware hunting service allows us to perform the analysis of the lifecycle of the trojan or other malware such as WSHRAT or Vidar. We can watch NanoCore behavior as well as all processes as they unfold in a secure online environment.

nanocore execution process graph

Figure 1: A visual graph of NanoCore execution processes generated by ANY.RUN

How does NanoCore spread?

NanoCore RAT is distributed using multiple methods. However, the most commonly used is spam email campaigns. They trick users into downloading malicious documents, often presented as price lists or purchase orders.

The emails sometimes contain malicious attachments with .img or .iso extension. The large size of these files makes it difficult to scan them. Some versions of malware are also spread by a ZIP file which evades secure email gateways. Several file structure works here: one file script will download the payload while the rest are decoys that ensure the malicious content goes unnoticed by the system's security.

PowerPoint files acquire the same scenario as the infection chain takes place over multiple stages before the final payload is executed.

NanoCore RAT execution process

NanoCore is delivered to the victim’s PC using the AutoIt program. Not unlike Agent Tesla malware, which is somewhat typical for this type of RATs. Typically, NanoCore is spread using Microsoft Word documents. Infected files contain an embedded executable file or an exploit.

According to the RAT analysis, once the script file is opened an embedded macros download an executable script file and rename it. The downloaded executable file runs itself and creates a child process. The malware is able to use Regsvcs and Regasm to proxy the code execution through a trusted Windows utility.

nanocore execution process tree

Figure 2: A process tree of NanoCore execution processes generated by ANY.RUN

How to detect NanoCore malware using ANY.RUN?

You can identify whether you are dealing with a sample of NanoCore RAT or not by a quick analysis of the files and scripts created by the malware. Most often NanoCore injects into three processes RegSvcs.exe, RegAsm.exe, and MSBuild.exe.

Open "Advanced details of process" for these processes and look at the "Modified files" tab in the "Events" section. If a file named "run.dat" was created by one of these processes and placed in the %Root%:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming[GUID] folder, you can be sure that the malware you are observing is, in fact, NanoCore trojan.

file created by nanocore Figure 3: File created by Nanocore

Conclusion

Thanks to accessibility, ease of use, customization, and plenty of information, the popularity of NanoCore escalated making it one of the most widespread RATs in the world. Even though NanoCores’ creator has been arrested by officials, due to the appearance of several cracked versions, NanoCore is still openly available on hacker forums.

Often, it can be acquired for free, allowing anybody to set up attacks. The popularity of the malware is further aided by the fact that one does not need much programming knowledge to use this Trojan, as it comes equipped with a user-friendly interface. At the same time, very sophisticated and destructive attacks can be carried out with NanoCore RAT by skillful hackers, since its malicious capabilities can be extended with custom plugins. Thankfully, modern analysis tools such as ANY.RUN allow researchers to examine malware in detail, learn about its behavior patterns and set up an appropriate cybersecurity response.

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