D-Link stolen Certificate Used to Digitally Sign Spying Malware
D-Link Corporation changed its name from Datex Systems Inc. in 1994, when it went public and when it became the first networking company on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. It is now publicly traded on the TSEC and NSE stock exchanges.
In 2007, it was the leading networking company in the small to medium business (SMB) segment worldwide with 21.9% market share. In March 2008, it became the market leader in Wi-Fi product shipments worldwide, with 33% of the total market.
Digitally signed malware has become much more common in recent years to mask malicious intentions.
Security researchers have discovered a new malware campaign misusing stolen valid digital certificates from Taiwanese tech-companies, including D-Link, to sign their malware and making them look like legitimate applications.
However, malware author and hackers who are always in search of advanced techniques to bypass security solutions have seen been abusing trusted digital certificates in recent years.
D-Link cert used to sign PLEAD malware samples
BlackTech operators used the stolen cert to sign two malware payloads —the first is the PLEAD backdoor, while the second is a nondescript password stealer.
According to a 2017 Trend Micro report, the BlackTech group has used the PLEAD malware in the past. Just like in previous attacks, the group’s targets for these most recent attacks were again located in East Asia, particularly in Taiwan.
The password stealer isn’t anything special, being capable of extracting passwords from only four apps —Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Outlook.
Following Cherepanov’s report about BlackTech using one of its certificates, D-Link revoked it last Tuesday, July 3. Before the revocation, the certificate was being used to secure the web panel of mydlink IP cameras.
APT used another certificate, but that one was older
In addition to the malware samples signed with the D-Link cert, Cherepanov also discovered some BlackTech malware samples signed with a certificate belonging to Taiwanese tech firm Changing Information Technology, Inc.
But unlike the D-Link certificate, this one had been revoked last year, on July 4, 2017, meaning it wasn’t that useful really that useful.
By signing the malicious files, BlackTech made their malware appear as a legitimate app from a trusted source to the underlying OS.
It’s no surprise seeing a supposed nation-state attacker with nearly unlimited resources abusing stolen certificates. A Recorded Future investigation published at the start of the year revealed that most common crooks couldn’t afford to buy digital certificates off the black market due to their prohibiting costs. Most stolen certificates remain only in the arm shot of APTs and highly-advanced financial crime groups.
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