Pony is a malware with two main functions — stealing information and dropping other viruses with different tasks on infected machines. It has been around since 2011 and it still actively attacks users in Europe and America.

Type
Stealer
Origin
Unknown
First seen
1 January, 2011
Last seen
19 January, 2021
Also known as
Fareit
Siplog
Global rank
10
Week rank
17
Month rank
18
IOCs
9292

What is Pony malware?

Pony, also known as Fareit or Siplog, is an information stealer and loader – a malware used to collect data from infected machines and install other malicious programs. This particular virus was First Spotted in the wild in 2011. It is known to attack users primarily in Europe and North America.

The earliest discovered version of Pony stealer is 1.7 and the latest updated known version is 2.2. Though, being regularly updated, the malware did not gain groundbreakingly new features since the time of its first discovery by Microsoft. In addition to the core functionality, Pony can also steal cryptocurrency wallets credentials, FTP clients and autofill values from the browsers.

In contrast to the majority of botnets, Pony stealer does not require a centralized C&C server or a group of C&C servers to carry out its attacks. Instead, each attacker can set up their own custom control server or purchase a server that was previously set up by another criminal, instantly gaining access to infrastructure that provides reports about the stolen data. The malware itself can be divided into two modules, the builder which is used to construct clients that are then have to be downloaded on the victim’s machine to collect data and the bot itself – the final payload.

General description of Pony malware

The robust functionality of Pony trojan helped this malware to keep its position of the most popular password stealer through 5 years. Apart from being able to steal credentials, Pony malware can disable certain antivirus and windows security features and run in the background completely hidden from the user, who may not have a clue that his or her PC is, in fact, infected. When activated, Pony stealer can use the infected PC to take part in botnet attacks, for example, using a hijacked machine to send spam emails. Pony can also download other malware to the victim’s machine and send harvested personal data to a destination specified by the attacker.

What’s more, Pony has been mentioned by multiple “hacker celebrities” as the backbone of many attack campaigns. For instance, the author of the infamous Andromeda botnet has referred to Pony as “titanic work of the author of miracle (Fareit Bot)”, further stating that Pony loader was incorporated in the Andromeda botnet attacks as a plug-in.

Part of the malware’s popularity is due to the fact that the source code of multiple Pony loader versions has been leaked and is available for download in the darknet. Particularly, the source code of Pony builder and loader versions 1.9 and 2.0 are available for download on several underground forums.

The Pony stealer builder is a program that attackers can use to construct custom Pony bots with pre-programmed C&C addresses, where stolen data can be sent. The Pony Bot is the actual program that is used for information stealing. The Bot is written primarily in assembly language. A peculiar feature of this malware that separates it from the rest of the pack is its unique decoding technique. The Bot itself does not come equipped with a decoding algorithm, instead of using just simple functions that are programmed to send encrypted information to the control server, where stolen passwords and other data are decrypted.

Even though the core feature-set of Pony trojan has not changed drastically over the course of its lifespan, newer versions of the malware gained several anti-detection features, designed to prevent research and disassembly of the malware. As such, in addition to standard anti-evasion and debugging techniques, each attacker has the ability to implement various packers, including custom ones, to avoid detection by antivirus software.

With the use of Packers, the malware gains a Russian “matryoshka” nesting-doll like-design. While the payload is inactive when the package containing Pony stealer is analyzed the final payload cannot be detected by antivirus signatures since it is hidden in the innermost and smallest package. However, once activated Pony loader has to unpack itself, thus revealing its presence.

Pony malware analysis

A video of a simulation recorded in ANY.RUN malware hunting service helps us to examine the behavior of Pony in-depth.

process graph of the pony execution Figure 1: A process graph generated by ANY.RUN enables to examine the lifecycle of Pony in a visual form

text report of a Pony analysis Figure 2: Customizable text reports provided by ANY.RUN gives more opportunities for research or sharing of study results

Pony malware execution process

In the case of our simulation, after the malicious file was run by the user the malware launched itself. Next, the malicious executable file connected to the C2 server and started stealing information from the infected system. It should be noted that in some cases Pony is known to download other malware to the victim’s machine.

Distribution of Pony malware

Pony is distributed in multiple ways, among which are email spam campaigns, exploit kits and DNS poisoning. Also, Pony can be hidden within free downloadable online programs and can mimic legitimate software. Malicious emails usually include either a Microsoft Word, archive or a JavaScript file. As soon as the document is downloaded and opened Pony injects into the victim’s PC and starts execution.

Another attack vector of Pony is through a compromised DNS server which is infected by another malware. In this case, the victim is redirected to a malicious website from where Pony downloads itself onto the users’ PC.

How to detect Pony stealer using ANY.RUN?

Analysts can take a look at what changes the malware made in the registry. Just click on the process and then on the button "More Info" in the appeared window. In "Advanced details of process" window switch to the "Registry changes" tab. Note that you can switch between the friendly and raw display of changes.

pony fareit registry changes Figure 3: Registry changes made by Pony

Conclusion

Availability and robust feature set helped make Pony stealer one of the most widely used information stealers. In fact, this malware is regularly being used in attacks targeting Europe and North America. The danger of Pony attacks is further enhanced by its nesting-doll-like design, where the final payload hides within a layered package, allowing to avoid easy detection. Interactive malware hunting service ANY.RUN gives researchers the ability to take a look at how this dangerous malware functions and examine its behavior in action in a safe environment.

IOCs

IP addresses
5.9.14.30
23.227.38.32
40.113.200.201
103.224.182.251
207.241.224.2
213.186.33.16
47.91.170.222
160.153.136.3
173.237.190.2
104.26.15.45
109.68.33.25
67.227.226.240
185.107.227.241
185.151.30.147
185.58.213.110
213.186.33.2
172.67.192.106
104.21.82.2
69.49.115.40
104.215.148.63
Hashes
82a022b29bda763ef9f2ce01c82c82e199182d1d0243cca9811eccc1d993cecf
09002c686e358799a9d732f4483a31a858bb140a3dfd59df54b1d449d2f8122b
24bf2b3b635bb2053d8c6dfafb9a9edf0e784ade925729c7c01051fe103f66a2
5392274076d00ab5522c5a1162880962166d4e252e45d35ae3d0ff2293599851
c27c0a65af996d3697e6db2d5900956ec1da68642caa62deb4102053ae8b9969
5a37dbecf825521597ec511ae03e854c8000c9b6220db8f10bf18415fa856a90
7b0b04e1b7c4e4a4e0c391cb2fac358facef845d96cc2740dd3c1e56ca7c41e6
18906ac67ea07ae57c5694c5a557f67b587c2ffd9a60c0b3f073074d7f2c9fee
6db5223d39fc22f7463ccbb3fa199856cf3709df124a69eda7a147f80f4e64c9
82739675bf4a111533575448305a711104ad04dd712c29214c4cf4ae797014fa
af0baf0a182295de0ad5c501f51903afbf07236bf51a5af6ac1918ff93d316dc
10fefd21ac4ba4c7ca9f5ceb508b2097bc90ec213c986b210ccbf3812180ca76
decd402d2b5efafc605ea0df315e516fef2e6f90719063d9c12e692acf98eba8
ba0b2518a0073173f4940923af6e235eb8c392283903053d55e5dd31236a3b3d
eb381550c19dfdaaccd835811c10092a3fcedd05f06941453d15aaf7535a388f
5d52b5d7ab73f6c6d87d7d0080860c789b0459463362299391cb437c2aaff2d1
eaf3a35a01a43d0be584a1418126e1203836f874b7c9517ebceada3068b6b62c
f58f8d510244e7e4c2f8b803ea53637e51d981a259ccb0aed9377e961b1074db
24d2d17b66ab016a347df3d449e07ab9e9f4d328e670795ef1d176ea8430f71c
6d24f97918d9f1ea035cae4376b8c0dbbd9da4a5692360d8255d1dca0272bc1c
Domains
www.mediconthemove.com
fwcpafl.com
ltcosmetics.com.au
www.kelitastudio.com
carraraim.com
thedescriptions.com
www.bryssweettruth.com
www.ressindia.com
lonenone.com
covid19forgps.com
covid19forgps.com
ahfoodstuff.com
www.ahfoodstuff.com
reddnowor.online
www.szpowerfultec.com
8up8.com
www.mrsempowerment.com
stonecreekglobal.com
www.rlspottery.com
www.statestreetphillips.com

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