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

Type
Trojan
Origin
Unknown
First seen
1 January, 2009
Last seen
8 August, 2020
Also known as
Pinkslipbot
QakBot
Quakbot
Global rank
19
Week rank
21
Month rank
12
IOCs
1462

What is Qbot?

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

Although early versions of Qbot have been spotted all the way back in 2009, this Trojan has been well maintained by its creators. 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. Since its first surfacing Qbot has been used in a number of 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 is able to 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 can launch itself automatically 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 to infiltrate thousands of machines and create a botnet with over 1,500 devices as the result of that attack.

Most of the targets that Qbot goes after are US-based organizations. Only about twenty percent of the targets 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 business working in any industry can get hit by Qbot.

It is also important to note that the malware is operated by an advanced cybergang. 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 a way to avoid attracting too much attention from law enforcement and also 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 samples of the malware at astonishing rates. They repack and re-scramble the code on a daily basis, making malware identification by means of anti-virus software unreliable.

Unfortunately, the identities of people 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.

qbot_process_graph

Figure 1: displays the graph 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. It is notable that very often the name of the payload 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 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?

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 an extremely serious 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 extremely important to analyze malware like Qbot, since code obfuscation makes research complicated and every investigation has the potential to uncover important data that will help businesses in the future avoid attacks or identify and eradicate this Trojan quicker. While Qbot avoids dynamic analysis with some automatic sandboxes with the delayed execution of its dropper as well as 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
47.153.115.154
166.62.180.194
82.127.193.151
18.203.69.85
68.174.15.223
72.204.242.138
107.191.53.116
77.159.149.74
184.74.101.234
23.82.141.50
192.254.234.66
24.152.219.253
23.235.198.21
35.221.162.182
76.187.8.160
197.210.96.222
207.255.161.8
24.42.14.241
137.99.224.198
77.73.67.108
Hashes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isns.net
majul.com
pumaskill.com
ffoeefsheuesihfo.ru
bagelbath.com
my.kankuedu.org
awskohg.wecloudapi.com
errors.newdatastatsserv.com
secure.jsc0nten1maker.com
server.ncha.uk
somesub.louisianaquickdivorce.com
dmad.info
riifndisojdoj.in
cdn.ssstatic.net
ipruoamdmsngktvvhxluztsm.info
futureinterest.org
qwerty.tastywieners.com
dendy.oshkoshrugby.org
type.tastywieners.com
old.oshkoshrugby.com

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