Nanocore

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.

Type
Trojan
Origin
USA
First seen
1 January, 2013
Last seen
22 October, 2021
Global rank
5
Week rank
8
Month rank
8
IOCs
14842

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 and ease of use of 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 description of 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. We can watch its 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, and customization, 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.

IOCs

IP addresses
3.140.223.7
206.81.28.165
3.22.30.40
3.134.125.175
3.13.191.225
3.134.39.220
3.142.167.54
3.142.167.4
13.59.15.185
13.59.15.185
3.142.129.56
3.22.53.161
3.138.45.170
52.14.18.129
3.131.207.170
3.129.187.220
3.133.207.110
3.14.182.203
3.141.177.1
3.17.7.232
Hashes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6.tcp.ngrok.io
isns.net
fevertox.duckdns.org
eaed-45-153-160-138.ngrok.io
086d-152-32-98-6.ngrok.io
0040-34-121-202-111.ngrok.io
c316-193-152-126-98.ngrok.io
537a-41-143-187-7.ngrok.io
f0ed-2a10-8006-18e0-0-24c3-abef-18b9-7871.ngrok.io
60abf116c991.ngrok.io
b3215b552b30.ngrok.io
531d77da8d8e.ngrok.io
ee9e7af221ee.ngrok.io
a0e866a420d7.ngrok.io
0ff5435b0408.ngrok.io
fc648a51db86.ngrok.io
52cdd43ca1f4.ngrok.io
8ef628b4602c.ngrok.io
64fa466e7f1b.ngrok.io
e644e4bcb557.ngrok.io

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