PowerShell RAT Detection: Bespoke Malware Used to Fish for War-Related Intelligence

PowerShell RAT

Germany-located users are falling victim to a new malware campaign designed to spread a custom-built PowerShell remote access trojan (RAT). Adversaries set up a decoy site to trick people into taking the bait in a phony newsflash that claims to offer previously unpublished information regarding the situation in Ukraine. Victims are urged to download a document that will provide more information on the matter. This weaponized file installs a custom RAT that enables attackers to perform remote command execution (RCE) on a compromised machine.

As the research data suggest, at the moment, there is not enough evidence to show who exactly is to be culpable for the attacks.

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PowerShell RAT Malware Analysis

Malwarebytes researchers have exposed PowerShell RAT, a piece of malware from a likely Russia-backed threat actor that targets users in Germany attempting to obtain war-related intelligence regarding the Ukrainian crisis. In the recent well-planned attack campaign, adversaries set up a bogus website leveraging an expired domain previously used for the governing purposes of the Baden-Württemberg state. Deceived site visitors were tricked into downloading a ZIP archive allegedly containing information on the threat situation in Ukraine for the second quarter of 2022, with regular updates when downloaded. What the offered file contained was a bespoke PowerShell RAT.

The ZIP file includes a CHM file with a number of compiled HTML files. Upon opening it, the victim is shown a bogus error notice. While in the background, the file starts PowerShell, which runs a Base64 deobfuscator before fetching and running a malicious script from the Baden-Württemberg bogus site. Finally, the script drops two files on the compromised machine: a .txt file with the PowerShell-written RAT and a .cmd file allowing PowerShell to launch it. The RAT fetches and uploads files from the C&C server, loads and runs a PowerShell script, and executes a specific command.

Attributing these attacks to Russia-sponsored threat actors would be quite speculative at the moment, but the adversaries’ motivation fits the pattern

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