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
31 March, 2020
Also known as
Fareit
Siplog
Global rank
8
Week rank
14
Month rank
14
IOCs
5663

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
23.253.126.58
198.54.117.197
103.224.182.251
207.241.224.2
192.3.202.210
195.123.224.44
43.225.55.205
209.99.40.222
213.186.33.2
93.157.63.185
69.49.115.40
185.67.1.94
80.211.174.156
66.206.84.222
194.180.224.126
23.227.38.32
209.99.40.223
94.102.1.194
67.227.226.240
195.201.179.80
Hashes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shmetterheath.ru
anthropologydentist.website
ns1.anthropologydentist.website
www.bezholesterol.info
saint-mary.us
hyoeyeep.ws
xnewlook.com
tinylittlevoice.in
www.lessthan150.com
www.pensionhotel.us
stanmartin.info
www.vntask.com
www.tualmiasde.com
www.witgedjqmoxvwv.com
secure.stanndard.com
graphicsheat.com
geostar.info
paykasaa.org
ispsoemalaga.org
error-repair-pro.com

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