Qbot

Qbot is a banking Trojan — a malware designed to collect banking information from victims. Qbot targets organizations mostly in the US. It is equipped with various sophisticated evasion and info-stealing functions and worm-like functionality, and a strong persistence mechanism.

Type
Trojan
Origin
Unknown
First seen
1 January, 2009
Last seen
26 January, 2023
Also known as
Pinkslipbot
QakBot
Quakbot
Global rank
18
Week rank
25
Month rank
21
IOCs
9193

What is Qbot?

Qbot, also known as QakBot, Pinkslipbot, and Quakbot, is a Banking Trojan — malware designed to steal banking credentials, online banking session information, personal details of the victim, or any other banking data.

Although early versions of Qbot were spotted all the way back in 2009, its creators have maintained this Trojan. Today, it continues to be active and features worm-like abilities to spread over networks, supports advanced web-injections techniques, and has a persistence mechanism that some researchers believe to be one of the best in its class. Additionally, the Trojan has anti-VM, anti-debug and anti-sandbox functionally that makes research and analysis quite difficult.

Furthermore, Qbot is polymorphic, which means that it can change itself even after it is installed on an endpoint. The Trojan constantly modifies files, and the dropper that the newer version of Qbot continuously cycles through command and control servers.

The combination of these functions makes Qbot highly dangerous malware. Qbot has been used in several successful attacks on organizations and governmental structures and has infected tens of thousands of machines.

General description of Qbot

Qbot is dispatched in targeted attacks against businesses. With this Trojan, the attackers go after bank accounts of organizations or private users who access their personal online banking cabinets from corporate networks by piggybacking into banking sessions of the victim.

The Trojan uses man-in-the-browser functionality to perform web injections, allowing it to alter what the victims see on the banking website when browsing from an infected machine. Interestingly, while most malware samples that use this technique contain the web injection code in their config file, Qbot can fetch the code from a controlled domain as it performs malicious activity.

Another trait that differentiates Qbot from other Trojans is its worm-like functionality. Qbot can copy itself using shared drives and spread over the network, spreading on its own or after receiving a command from the command and control server. Together with a highly developed persistence mechanism that uses registry runkeys and scheduled tasks, these traits make erasing Qbot from the infected network very difficult. The Trojan is designed to sustain itself despite system reboots and automatically launch itself when the system is turned on again.

This infamous persistence functionality has allegedly caused compromise of sensitive information in two government organizations in Massachusetts in 2011, while worm-like behavior helped the Qbot infiltrate thousands of machines and create a botnet with over 1,500 devices resulting from that attack.

Most of the targets that Qbot goes after are US-based organizations. Only about twenty percent of the new attack businesses are located outside of the United States. Although apart from the government offices, most of the attacks have been directed at banking, tech, and healthcare industries, there is no hard evidence to suggest that the attackers are aiming at specific fields. This means that businesses working in any industry can get hit by Qbot.

It is also important to note that an advanced cybergang operates the malware. Qbot attacks have been appearing on the radar of security researchers periodically, with phases of high activity and intervals when attacks would completely stop. This behavior is likely to avoid attracting too much attention from law enforcement and allows attackers to tweak and improve the malware during their time off.

The group behind Qbot is also notoriously known for pushing out new modified malware samples at astonishing rates. They repack and re-scramble the code daily, making malware identification by means of anti-virus software unreliable.

Unfortunately, people's identities behind Qbot are unknown, but it is widely believed that the cyber gang is based somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Qbot malware analysis

This video recorded in the ANY.RUN interactive malware hunting service shows the execution process of Qbot. You can also research other malware like Netwire and Predator the Thief.

qbot_process_graph

Figure 1: Displays the tree of processes created by the ANY.RUN interactive malware hunting service

Qbot execution process

Since Qbot is mostly targeted at the corporate sector, the main way of its penetration into infected systems is through a malicious document. In our example, maldoc starts several processes, including Powershell through by using a macro. Then, using cmd.exe, this trojan starts a chain of commands and executions, creating folders and temporary files. It utilizes Powershell to download the payload. Notably, the payload's name is as simple as six of the same digits or, less often, letters. Also, the payload often has a .png extension, although it is an executable file.

After that trojan starts its main execution, Qbot tries to evade detection by overwriting itself with the legitimate Windows executable calc.exe using the following commands: cmd.exe /c ping.exe -n 6 127.0.0.1 & type "C:\Windows\System32\calc.exe" > “Path to malware executable.” Qbot also injects explorer.exe and adds itself into autorun for persistence.

Qbot distribution

Qbot uses multiple attack vectors to infect victims. The malware uses email spam and phishing campaigns, as well as vulnerability exploits to infiltrate its targets. One of the more recent versions of the malware was observed being distributed by a dropper.

The dropper that installs Qbot is equipped with a delayed execution function. This means that after the dropper itself is downloaded onto a target machine, it waits around fifteen minutes before dropping the payload, likely in an effort to trick automatic sandboxes and avoid detection.

How to detect Qbot using ANY.RUN?

Sometimes Qbot trojan creates files that allow analysts to detect it with a high degree of certainty. To detect Qbot, open the "Files" tab in the lower part of the task's window and take a look at the created folders. If you see folders with names such as "Zulycjadyc" and "imtaykad" within C:\Users\admin\AppData\ Roaming\Microsoft\ directory and .exe or .dat file with a name "ytfovlym," as shown on the figure below, be sure that it is Qbot in front of you.

how_to_detect_qbot

Figure 2: Detecting Qbot by local files

Conclusion

Security researchers successfully reversed a sample of Qbot in a 2020 investigation. Since the researchers managed to pinpoint a command and control server, they could identify the true scale of the attack. What they uncovered was an active Qbot botnet consisting of over 2,000 computers.

If there was any doubt that Qbot is a severe threat, hopefully, this should clear it. Advanced web injections, sophisticated anti-evasion techniques, worm-like functions, and an experienced cyber gang that constantly updates the malware is a dangerous cocktail.

As security researchers, it is essential to analyze malware like Qbot since code obfuscation makes research complicated. Every investigation has the potential to uncover important data that will help businesses avoid attacks or identify and eradicate this Trojan quicker. At the same time, Qbot avoids dynamic analysis with some automatic sandboxes with the delayed execution of its dropper and other tricks, interactive sandboxes like the one presented by the ANY.RUN malware hunting services are not so easily fooled.

ANY.RUN presents a good opportunity to perform dynamic analysis on this malware from a secure online environment and share your findings with fellow researchers in our public malware database.

IOCs

IP addresses
217.128.122.65
182.191.92.203
38.70.253.226
75.99.168.194
74.14.5.179
39.52.44.132
104.34.212.7
216.238.72.121
193.253.44.249
120.150.218.241
86.195.158.178
32.221.224.140
92.132.172.197
45.63.1.12
94.59.15.180
78.101.91.101
144.202.2.175
192.254.234.66
92.8.187.85
87.252.106.197
Hashes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booking.msg.bluhotels.com
booking.msg.bluhotels.com
isns.net
frederikkempe.com
majul.com
instatron.net
gen5.ga
revivalresumed.com
www.ogbujpmoxi.cf
photographypointer.men
videoanalystes.webcam
www.vistohub.com
www.orcus.one
aytacproxy.cf
mariamiler.com
jcondotel.com
www.yolandapalhanoimoveis.com.br
emaclick.com
mystroi24.ru
gremlin.studio

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