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
13 January, 2021
Also known as
Pinkslipbot
QakBot
Quakbot
Global rank
16
Week rank
3
Month rank
3
IOCs
2551

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
155.186.9.160
47.146.32.175
2.88.48.122
95.77.144.238
172.87.157.235
197.210.96.222
35.134.202.234
35.134.202.234
92.154.83.96
68.116.193.239
37.104.31.132
190.220.8.10
95.77.223.148
77.159.149.74
73.228.1.246
97.127.144.203
73.232.165.200
207.255.161.8
72.29.181.77
173.22.120.11
Hashes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isns.net
majul.com
elx01.knas.systems
pumaskill.com
krupskaya.com
m-onetrading-jp.com
thuocnam.tk
errors.newdatastatsserv.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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