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
16 April, 2021
Also known as
Pinkslipbot
QakBot
Quakbot
Global rank
16
Week rank
3
Month rank
3
IOCs
2570

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
95.77.144.238
83.110.109.164
75.110.250.89
70.29.120.49
86.236.77.68
193.248.221.184
115.21.224.117
155.186.9.160
68.174.15.223
184.161.177.223
71.187.170.235
72.209.191.27
47.146.32.175
2.88.48.122
172.87.157.235
197.210.96.222
35.134.202.234
35.134.202.234
92.154.83.96
68.116.193.239
Hashes
16c9d79188c6e2b612a279e35088a5c490229ab05b49b46b5781b61f1b8e030c
f6210da7865e00351c0e79464a1ba14a8ecc59dd79f650f2ff76f1697f6807b1
ca0b7d370f816b72123306c076bf9dead8038918391e53549877324218e6a1e7
534a01575cde5e887bfec158de29af77f751866503f4d0a1cc8e8bc14c163fba
931f23a7c7c2fe8660cd0904107c5875db241c697ea3a62ceb7adbd2172642eb
7368a42b94055e1b17acb532b4833922711341005cd5257604cce059632a871d
f222405e0ee13926544d465e12c10259b9a90e26777ac07a559661d8f371799d
ef36e7fe5924d27049775ac31468bdf1e88ed4cc7e8197f36838c035d3b6a0b5
b93aa5789a761987db4331c15e9fe0466e68a556424afcf35f51234385d4e4e7
0378faa1a9f686c93a92564a41dc7ea8fcbfa86b52a54e0c2c7928a59364a522
3be905066595dc785c9b6b98bfb2d9e0478f32df31337a8aeec96d7ccd52769e
0100704d57f45d0db395959a1235933a8883015cdbeb85a004cf28e96ba7f17e
1f9a8b3c060c2940a81442c9d9c9e36c31ad37aaa7cd61e1d7aec2d86fe1c585
e619c79d519b8aee147c5b4ddb4acd94eeb7d203483caf40b1d120a16ac9c7b4
a6a365ce08f5eda1ded850e66fa51e4117dcb6aa0bbad2e45568e8a6317859f9
61b3634e5f23025b49119f1f5ecc054338f8d92d620d0c940a5d19c52971dbf3
ffeb987b9032b3c55dae1358c9f4cc16a2c37cbd6f0ba644a8bc2da8f6c3e7ea
d885209207b11f3ed12c9698ecb3febaa34ec7ab06a3b8f02de93bd3f6ff2111
3d7d056acc758c78d5e3741389d6fa62e551b4738a57d199f171332f4ea8c033
e736cf964b998e582fd2c191a0c9865814b632a315435f80798dd2a239a5e5f5
Domains
majul.com
elx01.knas.systems
isns.net
krupskaya.com
m-onetrading-jp.com
thuocnam.tk
errors.newdatastatsserv.com
pumaskill.com
awskohg.wecloudapi.com
ffoeefsheuesihfo.ru
secure.jsc0nten1maker.com
bagelbath.com
my.kankuedu.org
server.ncha.uk
somesub.louisianaquickdivorce.com
dmad.info
riifndisojdoj.in
cdn.ssstatic.net
ipruoamdmsngktvvhxluztsm.info
futureinterest.org

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