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
11 July, 2020
Also known as
Fareit
Siplog
Global rank
9
Week rank
21
Month rank
15
IOCs
7211

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
207.241.224.2
31.41.43.1
104.31.71.13
23.227.38.32
198.54.117.197
103.224.182.251
194.4.56.252
94.126.168.68
109.70.26.37
69.49.115.40
103.14.97.84
67.227.226.240
209.99.40.223
209.99.40.222
104.27.167.134
195.252.110.143
216.105.38.10
93.157.63.185
91.218.231.226
40.113.200.201
Hashes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majul.com
smtp.aryalremit.com
smtp.vlsc-shipping.com
smtp.siqanalytical.com
smtp.autocliima.com
smtp.uascc.net
elx01.knas.systems
isns.net
braif.ru
bejnz.com
www.blackempirebuild.com
honor2020.ga
test-service012505.com
ghjk78kjhb.net
blackempirebuild.com
booomaahuuoooapl.ru
services-glbdns2.com
secure-telemetry.net
myp0nysite.ru
mdmpharma.pt

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