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
18 February, 2020
Also known as
Fareit
Siplog
Global rank
8
Week rank
12
Month rank
11
IOCs
5510

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 which 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

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 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 which 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 which are programmed to send encrypted information to the control server, where stolen passwords and other data is 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 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 give more opportunities for research or sharing of study results

Pony 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 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
198.54.117.197
207.241.224.2
216.105.38.10
198.54.117.200
63.250.34.162
63.250.34.162
198.23.200.241
107.175.150.73
67.227.226.240
23.227.38.32
210.211.119.168
162.248.241.106
109.70.26.37
103.224.182.251
195.123.246.145
82.118.21.170
184.168.221.52
213.186.33.2
213.186.33.16
69.49.115.40
Hashes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elx01.knas.systems
adonis-medicine.at
www.fahkiu.com
www.platocairo.win
www.safetrafficforupdate.date
www.exerciseearphones.com
www.terra-bit.network
love-spooky.now-dns.net
sophisticated-release.dynip.org
sensation-mention.n4t.co
log-mislead.n4t.co
looting-compromise.32-b.it
suspend-puncture.dvrlists.com
isns.net
omabradley.ru
batlxt.org
www.empoweredi.biz
bedsbreath.com
musk-giveaway.com
catal0g.info

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