Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered a malware targeting ATMs, which was being sold on the DarkNet market.
Cutlet Maker consists of three components and enables ATM jackpotting if the attacker is able to gain physical access to the machine. A toolset potentially allowing criminals to steal millions was on sale for just 5000 dollars and came equipped with a step-by-step user guide.
ATMs continue to be lucrative targets for fraudsters, who use various methods to extract maximum profit. While some rely on physically destructive methods through the use of metal cutting tools, others choose malware infection, enabling them to manipulate cash dispensers from the inside. Although malicious tools for hacking ATMs have been known for many years, the latest discovery shows that malware creators are investing more and more resources into making their “products” available for criminals who are not very familiar with computer science.
Earlier this year, a Kaspersky Lab partner provided one of our researchers with a previously unknown malicious sample presumably made to infect PCs running inside ATMs. Researchers were curious to see if this malware or something related to it was available to purchase on underground forums. A subsequent search for the unique artifacts of the malware was successful: an advertising offer describing a strain of ATM malware on a popular DarkNet spot – AlphaBay – matched the search query and revealed that the initial sample belonged to a whole commercial malware-kit created to jackpot ATMs. A public post by the malware seller, found by researchers, contained not only the description of the malware and instructions on how to get it, but also provided a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use the malware-kit in attacks, with instructions and video tutorials.
According to the research, the malware toolkit consists of three elements:
- Cutlet Maker software, which serves as the main module responsible for communicating with the ATM’s dispenser.
- c0decalc program, designed to generate a password in order to run the Cutlet Maker application and protect it from unauthorised use.
- Stimulator application, which saves time for criminals by identifying the current status of ATM cash cassettes. By installing this app, an intruder receives exact information on the currency, value and number of notes in each cassette, so can then choose the one containing the largest amount, instead of blindly withdrawing cash one by one.
To begin the theft, criminals need to gain direct access to an ATM’s insides in order to access the USB port, which is used to upload the malware. If successful, they plug in a USB device which stores the software toolkit. As a first step, criminals install Cutlet Maker. Since it is password protected they use a c0decalc program, installed on another device such as a laptop or tablet – this is a kind of “copyright” protection installed by authors of Cutlet Maker in order to prevent other criminals from using it for free. After the code is generated, criminals enter it into Cutler Maker’s interface to start the money removal process.
Cutlet Maker had been on sale since 27 Mar 2017, however as researchers discovered, the earliest known sample came on the radars of the security community in June 2016. At that time, it was submitted to a public multi-scanner service from Ukraine, but later submissions from other countries were also made. It is not clear if the malware was used in actual in the wild attacks, however the guidelines that came with the malware kit contained videos which were presented by their authors as real-life proof of the malware’s efficiency.
It is unknown who is behind this malware. Regarding potential sellers of the toolkit, language, grammar and stylistic mistakes point to the fact they are non-native English speakers.
“Cutlet Maker requires almost no advanced knowledge or professional computer skills from the criminal, transforming ATM hacking from a sophisticated offensive cyber operation into yet another illegal way to earn money that is available to practically anyone who has several thousand dollars to purchase the malware. This may potentially become a dangerous threat to financial organisations. But what is more important is that while operating, Cutlet Maker interacts with the ATMs software and hardware, encountering almost no security obstacles at all. This should be changed in order to harden ATM machines,” says Konstantin Zykov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
In order to protect ATMs from attacks with the help of malicious tools like Cutlet Maker and in addition to providing reliable physical security to ATMs, Kaspersky Lab specialists advise financial organisations security teams to do the following:
- Implement strict default-deny policies preventing any unauthorised software from running on the ATM.
- Enable device control mechanisms to restrict the connection of any unauthorised devices to the ATM.
- Use a tailored security solution to protect your ATMs from attacks from the likes of the Cutlet Maker malware.
For better ATM protection Kaspersky Lab also recommends using a proper security solution, such as Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security.
Kaspersky Lab products successfully detect and block the Cutlet Maker malware.
To read more about how Cutlet Maker works, read the recent blogpost on Securelist.com.
This analysis continues Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing research into financial malwar
Crouching Yeti strikes
Kaspersky Lab has uncovered infrastructure used by the Russian-speaking APT group Crouching Yeti, also known as Energetic Bear, which includes compromised servers across the world.
According to the research, numerous servers in different countries were hit since 2016, sometimes in order to gain access to other resources. Others, including those hosting Russian websites, were used as watering holes.
Crouching Yeti is a Russian-speaking advanced persistent threat (APT) group that Kaspersky Lab has been tracking since 2010. It is best known for targeting industrial sectors around the world, with a primary focus on energy facilities, for the main purpose of stealing valuable data from victim systems. One of the techniques the group has been widely using is through watering hole attacks: the attackers injected websites with a link redirecting visitors to a malicious server.
Recently Kaspersky Lab has discovered a number of servers, compromised by the group, belonging to different organisations based in Russia, the U.S., Turkey and European countries, and not limited to industrial companies. According to researchers, they were hit in 2016 and 2017 with different purposes. Thus, besides watering hole, in some cases they were used as intermediaries to conduct attacks on other resources.
In the process of analysing infected servers, researchers identified numerous websites and servers used by organisations in Russia, U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America that the attackers had scanned with various tools, possibly to find a server that could be used to establish a foothold for hosting the attackers’ tools and to subsequently develop an attack. Some of the sites scanned may have been of interest to the attackers as candidates for waterhole. The range of websites and servers that captured the attention of the intruders is extensive. Kaspersky Lab researchers found that the attackers had scanned numerous websites of different types, including online stores and services, public organisations, NGOs, manufacturing, etc.
Also, experts found that the group used publicly available malicious tools, designed for analyzing servers, and for seeking out and collecting information. In addition, a modified sshd file with a preinstalled backdoor was discovered. This was used to replace the original file and could be authorised with a ‘master password’.
“Crouching Yeti is a notorious Russian-speaking group that has been active for many years and is still successfully targeting industrial organisations through watering hole attacks, among other techniques. Our findings show that the group compromised servers not only for establishing watering holes, but also for further scanning, and they actively used open-sourced tools that made it much harder to identify them afterwards,” said Vladimir Dashchenko, Head of Vulnerability Research Group at Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT.
“The group’s activities, such as initial data collection, the theft of authentication data, and the scanning of resources, are used to launch further attacks. The diversity of infected servers and scanned resources suggests the group may operate in the interests of the third parties,” he added.
Kaspersky Lab recommends that organisations implement a comprehensive framework against advanced threats comprising of dedicated security solutions for targeted attack detection and incident response, along with expert services and threat intelligence. As a part of Kaspersky Threat Management and Defense, our anti-targeted attack platform detects an attack at early stages by analysing suspicious network activity, while Kaspersky EDR brings improved endpoint visibility, investigation capabilities and response automation. These are enhanced with global threat intelligence and Kaspersky Lab’s expert services with specialisation in threat hunting and incident response.
More details on this recent Crouching Yeti activity can be found on the Kaspersky Lab ICS CERT website.
R5m in software fines
South African companies paid almost R5.2 million in damages for using unlicensed software in 2017 up from R3.6 million in 2016.
This is according to data from BSA | The Software Alliance, a non-profit, global trade association created to advance the goals of the software industry and its hardware partners.
The significant increase in unlicensed software payments – which includes settlements as well as the cost of acquiring new software to become compliant – is the result of more accurate leads from informers, says Darren Olivier, Partner at Adams & Adams, legal counsel for BSA. In 2017 BSA received 281 reports in South Africa alleging the use of unlicensed software products of BSA member companies – this up considerably up from 230 leads in 2016.
“BSA’s recent social media campaign also helped to create awareness among local companies about the need to comply with existing legislation in order to avoid legal action,” Olivier says.
The result has been a 13% increase in settlements paid in 2017, with the settlements total reaching almost R2.5 million.
While the average settlement paid by companies in 2017 was around R36 094, in some cases the amount owed was far greater, as is evidenced by Shereno Printers, a print and design company based in Gauteng, which ended up paying a hefty settlement amount of R260 000 last year in an out of court settlement.
The company’s case was in line with a broader trend, which saw the print and design industry as a whole rank among the top sectors plagued by unlicensed software.
Aside from settlements, companies also paid more than R2.6 million in licenses purchased to legalise their unlicensed software.
And the ramifications of software piracy extend beyond financial implications. “It also results in potential job losses and loss in tax revenue. This is not to mention the financial and reputational damage brought about by security breaches and lost data,” comments Olivier.
As unlicensed software has not been updated with the latest security features, it leaves businesses vulnerable to cyberattack, he explains.
This is a particular problem for companies operating in South Africa where economic crime has recently reached record levels, according to the Global Economic Crime Survey. Indeed, 77% of South African organisations have experienced some form of economic crime. What’s more, instances of cybercrime totalled 29% of economic crimes reported.
This in turn, raises questions around government policy and the adequacy of existing copyright legislation, which only enables the registration of copyright in films, but not in computer programs.
Olivier notes that it is likely the percentage of unlicensed software on South African computers has increased over the past year. “We received many more leads this year, which is an indicator that the amount of pirated software is greater than in previous years,” he comments.
Often unlicensed software is not so much a case of deliberate piracy as it is a result of poor software asset management (SAM).
“For this reason, the BSA encourages all businesses to ensure they have effective SAM practices in place. Companies should be able to confirm what software they are using and are licensed to use – this will help them to identify unlicensed software and can also bring about cost savings. Even the most basic SAM practices such as regular inventories and software use policies can help,” says Chair of the BSA SA Committee, Billa Coetsee.
With this in mind the BSA offers a range of SAM solutions, not only to help organisations reduce legal and security risks, but also to create business value.