Evasive Panda leverages Monlam Festival to target Tibetans

35 Min Read

ESET researchers discovered a cyberespionage campaign that, since at least September 2023, has been victimizing Tibetans through a targeted watering hole (also known as a strategic web compromise), and a supply-chain compromise to deliver trojanized installers of Tibetan language translation software. The attackers aimed to deploy malicious downloaders for Windows and macOS to compromise website visitors with MgBot and a backdoor that, to the best of our knowledge, has not been publicly documented yet; we have named it Nightdoor.

Key points in this blogpost:

  • We discovered a cyberespionage campaign that leverages the Monlam Festival – a religious gathering – to target Tibetans in several countries and territories.
  • The attackers compromised the website of the organizer of the annual festival, which takes place in India, and added malicious code to create a watering-hole attack targeting users connecting from specific networks.
  • We also discovered that a software developer’s supply chain was compromised and trojanized installers for Windows and macOS were served to users.
  • The attackers fielded a number of malicious downloaders and full-featured backdoors for the operation, including a publicly undocumented backdoor for Windows that we have named Nightdoor.
  • We attribute this campaign with high confidence to the China-aligned Evasive Panda APT group.

Evasive Panda profile

Evasive Panda (also known as BRONZE HIGHLAND and Daggerfly) is a Chinese-speaking APT group, active since at least 2012. ESET Research has observed the group conducting cyberespionage against individuals in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Nigeria. Government entities were targeted in Southeast and East Asia, specifically China, Macao, Myanmar, The Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Other organizations in China and Hong Kong were also targeted. According to public reports, the group has also targeted unknown entities in Hong Kong, India, and Malaysia.

The group uses its own custom malware framework with a modular architecture that allows its backdoor, known as MgBot, to receive modules to spy on its victims and enhance its capabilities. Since 2020 we have also observed that Evasive Panda has capabilities to deliver its backdoors via adversary-in-the-middle attacks hijacking updates of legitimate software.

Campaign overview

In January 2024, we discovered a cyberespionage operation in which attackers compromised at least three websites to carry out watering-hole attacks as well as a supply-chain compromise of a Tibetan software company.

The compromised website abused as a watering hole belongs to Kagyu International Monlam Trust, an organization based in India that promotes Tibetan Buddhism internationally. The attackers placed a script in the website that verifies the IP address of the potential victim and if it is within one of the targeted ranges of addresses, shows a fake error page to entice the user to download a “fix” named certificate (with a .exe extension if the visitor is using Windows or .pkg if macOS). This file is a malicious downloader that deploys the next stage in the compromise chain.

Based on the IP address ranges the code checks for, we discovered that the attackers targeted users in India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, and the United States; the attack might have aimed to capitalize on international interest in the Kagyu Monlam Festival (Figure 1) that is held annually in January in the city of Bodhgaya, India.

Figure 1. Kagyu Monlam’s website with the dates of the festival

Interestingly, the network of the Georgia Institute of Technology (also known as Georgia Tech) in the United States is among the identified entities in the targeted IP address ranges. In the past, the university was mentioned in connection with the Chinese Communist Party’s influence on education institutes in the US.

Around September 2023, the attackers compromised the website of a software development company based in India that produces Tibetan language translation software. The attackers placed several trojanized applications there that deploy a malicious downloader for Windows or macOS.

In addition to this, the attackers also abused the same website and a Tibetan news website called Tibetpost – tibetpost[.]net – to host the payloads obtained by the malicious downloads, including two full-featured backdoors for Windows and an unknown number of payloads for macOS.

Figure 2. Timeline of events related to the attack.
Figure 2. Timeline of events related to the attack

With high confidence we attribute this campaign to the Evasive Panda APT group, based on the malware that was used: MgBot and Nightdoor. In the past, we have seen both backdoors deployed together, in an unrelated attack against a religious organization in Taiwan, in which they also shared the same C&C server. Both points also apply to the campaign described in this blogpost.

Watering hole

On January 14th, 2024, we detected a suspicious script at https://www.kagyumonlam[.]org/media/vendor/jquery/js/jquery.js?3.6.3.

Malicious obfuscated code was appended to a legitimate jQuery JavaScript library script, as seen in Figure 2.

Figure 3. The malicious code added at the end of a jQuery library
Figure 3. The malicious code added at the end of a jQuery library

The script sends an HTTP request to the localhost address http://localhost:63403/?callback=handleCallback to check whether the attacker’s intermediate downloader is already running on the potential victim machine (see Figure 3). On a previously compromised machine, the implant replies with handleCallback({“success”:true }) (see Figure 4) and no further actions are taken by the script.

Figure 4. The JavaScript code that checks in with the implant
Figure 4. The JavaScript code that checks in with the implant
Figure 5. The implant answering the JavaScript check-in request
Figure 5. The implant answering the JavaScript check-in request

If the machine does not reply with the expected data, the malicious code continues by obtaining an MD5 hash from a secondary server at https://update.devicebug[.]com/getVersion.php. Then the hash is checked against a list of 74 hash values, as seen in Figure 6.

Figure 6. An array of hashes stored in the malicious JavaScript
Figure 6. An array of hashes stored in the malicious JavaScript

If there is a match, the script will render an HTML page with a fake crash notification (Figure 7) intended to bait the visiting user into downloading a solution to fix the problem. The page mimics typical “Aw, Snap!” warnings from Google Chrome.

Figure 7. A fake graphic rendered by the JavaScript
Figure 7. A fake graphic rendered by the JavaScript

The “Immediate Fix” button triggers a script that downloads a payload based on the user’s operating system (Figure 8).

Figure 8. Download URLs for Windows and macOS
Figure 8. Download URLs for Windows and macOS

Breaking the hash

The condition for payload delivery requires getting the correct hash from the server at update.devicebug[.]com, so the 74 hashes are the key to the attacker’s victim selection mechanism. However, since the hash is computed on the server side, it posed a challenge for us to know what data is used to compute it.

We experimented with different IP addresses and system configurations and narrowed down the input for the MD5 algorithm to a formula of the first three octets of the user’s IP address. In other words, by inputting IP addresses sharing the same network prefix, for example 192.168.0.1 and 192.168.0.50, will receive the same MD5 hash from the C&C server.

However, an unknown combination of characters, or a salt, is included with the string of first three IP octets before hashing to prevent the hashes from being trivially brute-forced. Therefore, we needed to brute-force the salt to secure the input formula and only then generate hashes using the entire range of IPv4 addresses to find the matching 74 hashes.

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Sometimes the stars do align, and we figured out that the salt was 1qaz0okm!@#. With all pieces of the MD5 input formula (for example, 192.168.1.1qaz0okm!@#), we brute-forced the 74 hashes with ease and generated a list of targets. See the Appendix for a complete list.

As shown in Figure 9, the majority of targeted IP address ranges are in India, followed by Taiwan, Australia, the United States, and Hong Kong. Note that most of the Tibetan diaspora lives in India.

Figure 9. Geolocation targeted IP address ranges
Figure 9. Geolocation of targeted IP address ranges

Windows payload

On Windows, victims of the attack are served with a malicious executable located at https://update.devicebug[.]com/fixTools/certificate.exe. Figure 10 shows the execution chain that follows when the user downloads and executes the malicious fix.

Figure 10. Loading chain of certificate.exe
Figure 10. Loading chain of certificate.exe

certificate.exe is a dropper that deploys a side-loading chain to load an intermediate downloader, memmgrset.dll (internally named http_dy.dll). This DLL fetches a JSON file from the C&C server at https://update.devicebug[.]com/assets_files/config.json, which contains the information to download the next stage (see Figure 11).

Figure 11. Content of config.json
Figure 11. Content of config.json

When the next stage is downloaded and executed, it deploys another side-loading chain to deliver Nightdoor as the final payload. An analysis of Nightdoor is provided below in the Nightdoor section.

macOS payload

The macOS malware is the same downloader that we document in more detail in Supply-chain compromise. However, this one drops an additional Mach-O executable, which listens on TCP port 63403. Its only purpose is to reply with handleCallback({“success”:true }) to the malicious JavaScript code request, so if the user visits the watering-hole website again, the JavaScript code will not attempt to re-compromise the visitor.

This downloader obtains the JSON file from the server and downloads the next stage, just like the Windows version previously described.

Supply-chain compromise

On January 18th, we discovered that the official website (Figure 12) of a Tibetan language translation software product for multiple platforms was hosting ZIP packages containing trojanized installers for legitimate software that deployed malicious downloaders for Windows and macOS.

Figure 12. Windows and macOS applications backdoored versions
Figure 12. Windows and macOS applications are backdoored versions, hosted on the legitimate website’s download page

We found one victim from Japan who downloaded one of the packages for Windows. Table 1 lists the URLs and the dropped implants.

Table 1. URLs of the malicious packages on the compromised website and payload type in the compromised application

Malicious package URL

Payload type

https://www.monlamit[.]com/monlam-app-store/monlam-bodyig3.zip

Win32 downloader

https://www.monlamit[.]com/monlam-app-store/Monlam_Grand_Tibetan_Dictionary_2018.zip

Win32 downloader

https://www.monlamit[.]com/monlam-app-store/Deutsch-Tibetisches_W%C3%B6rterbuch_Installer_Windows.zip

Win32 downloader

https://www.monlamit[.]com/monlam-app-store/monlam-bodyig-mac-os.zip

macOS downloader

https://www.monlamit[.]com/monlam-app-store/Monlam-Grand-Tibetan-Dictionary-for-mac-OS-X.zip

macOS downloader

Windows packages

Figure 13 illustrates the loading chain of the trojanized application from the package monlam-bodyig3.zip.

Figure 13. Loading chain of the malicious components
Figure 13. Loading chain of the malicious components

The trojanized application contains a malicious dropper called autorun.exe that deploys two components:

  • an executable file named MonlamUpdate.exe, which is a software component from an emulator called C64 Forever and is abused for DLL side-loading, and
  • RPHost.dll, the side-loaded DLL, which is a malicious downloader for the next stage.

When the downloader DLL is loaded in memory, it creates a scheduled task named Demovale intended to be executed every time a user logs on. However, since the task does not specify a file to execute, it fails to establish persistence.

Next, this DLL gets a UUID and the operating system version to create a custom User-Agent and sends a GET request to https://www.monlamit[.]com/sites/default/files/softwares/updateFiles/Monlam_Grand_Tibetan_Dictionary_2018/UpdateInfo.dat to obtain a JSON file containing the URL to download and execute a payload that it drops to the %TEMP% directory. We were unable to obtain a sample of the JSON object data from the compromised website; therefore we don’t know from where exactly default_ico.exe is downloaded, as illustrated in Figure 13.

Via ESET telemetry, we noticed that the illegitimate MonlamUpdate.exe process downloaded and executed on different occasions at least four malicious files to %TEMP%\default_ico.exe. Table 2 lists those files and their purpose.

Table 2. Hash of the default_ico.exe downloader/dropper, contacted C&C URL, and description of the downloader

SHA-1

Contacted URL

Purpose

1C7DF9B0023FB97000B7
1C7917556036A48657C5

https://tibetpost[.]net/templates/
protostar/html/layouts/joomla/
system/default_fields.php

Downloads an unknown payload from the server.

F0F8F60429E3316C463F
397E8E29E1CB2D925FC2

Downloads an unknown payload from the server. This sample was written in Rust.

7A3FC280F79578414D71
D70609FBDB49EC6AD648

http://188.208.141[.]204:5040/
a62b94e4dcd54243bf75802f0cbd71f3.exe

Downloads a randomly named Nightdoor dropper.

BFA2136336D845184436
530CDB406E3822E83EEB

N/A

Open-source tool SystemInfo, into which the attackers integrated their malicious code and embedded an encrypted blob that, once decrypted and executed, installs MgBot.

Finally, the default_ico.exe downloader or dropper will either obtain the payload from the server or drop it, then execute it on the victim machine, installing either Nightdoor (see the Nightdoor section) or MgBot (see our previous analysis).

The two remaining trojanized packages are very similar, deploying the same malicious downloader DLL side-loaded by the legitimate executable.

macOS packages

The ZIP archive downloaded from the official app store contains a modified installer package (.pkg file), where a Mach-O executable and a post-installation script were added. The post-installation script copies the Mach-O file to $HOME/Library/Containers/CalendarFocusEXT/ and proceeds to install a Launch Agent in $HOME/Library/LaunchAgents/com.Terminal.us.plist for persistence. Figure 14 shows the script responsible for installing and launching the malicious Launch Agent.

Figure 14. Post-installation script for installing and launching malicious Launch Agent
Figure 14. Post-installation script for installing and launching the malicious Launch Agent

The malicious Mach-O, Monlam-bodyig_Keyboard_2017 in Figure 13 is signed, but not notarized, using a developer certificate (not a certificate type usually used for distribution) with the name and team identifier ya ni yang (2289F6V4BN). The timestamp in the signature shows that it was signed January 7th, 2024. This date is also used in the modified timestamp of the malicious files in the metadata of the ZIP archive. The certificate was issued only three days before. The full certificate is available in the IoCs section. Our team reached out to Apple on January 25th and the certificate was revoked the same day.

This first-stage malware downloads a JSON file that contains the URL to the next stage. The architecture (ARM or Intel), macOS version, and hardware UUID (an identifier unique to each Mac) are reported in the User-Agent HTTP request header. The same URL as the Windows version is used to retrieve that configuration: https://www.monlamit[.]com/sites/default/files/softwares/updateFiles/Monlam_Grand_Tibetan_Dictionary_2018/UpdateInfo.dat. However, the macOS version will look at the data under the mac key of the JSON object instead of the win key.

The object under the mac key should contain the following:

  • url: The URL to the next stage.
  • md5: MD5 sum of the payload.
  • vernow: A list of hardware UUIDs. If present, the payload will only be installed on Macs that have one of the listed hardware UUIDs. This check is skipped if the list is empty or missing.
  • version: A numerical value that must be higher than the previously downloaded second stage “version”. The payload is not downloaded otherwise. The value of the currently running version is kept in the application user defaults.
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After the malware downloads the file from the specified URL using curl, the file is hashed using MD5 and compared to the hexadecimal digest under the md5 key. If it matches, its extended attributes are removed (to clear the com.apple.quarantine attribute), the file is moved to $HOME/Library/SafariBrowser/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/SafariBrower, and is launched using execvp with the argument run.

Unlike the Windows version, we could not find any of the later stages of the macOS variant. One JSON configuration contained an MD5 hash (3C5739C25A9B85E82E0969EE94062F40), but the URL field was empty.

Nightdoor

The backdoor that we have named Nightdoor (and is named NetMM by the malware authors according to PDB paths) is a late addition to Evasive Panda’s toolset. Our earliest knowledge of Nightdoor goes back to 2020, when Evasive Panda deployed it onto a machine of a high-profile target in Vietnam. The backdoor communicates with its C&C server via UDP or the Google Drive API. The Nightdoor implant from this campaign used the latter. It encrypts a Google API OAuth 2.0 token within the data section and uses the token to access the attacker’s Google Drive. We have requested that the Google account associated with this token be taken down.

First, Nightdoor creates a folder in Google Drive containing the victim’s MAC address, which also acts as a victim ID. This folder will contain all the messages between the implant and the C&C server. Each message between Nightdoor and the C&C server is structured as a file and separated into filename and file data, as depicted in Figure 15.

Figure 15. The conversation messages between the implant and the C&C
Figure 15. The conversation messages between the implant and the C&C from the victim’s folder in the attacker’s Google Drive

Each filename contains eight main attributes, which is demonstrated in the example below.

Example:

1_2_0C64C2BAEF534C8E9058797BCD783DE5_168_0_1_4116_0_00-00-00-00-00-00

  • 1_2: magic value.
  • 0C64C2BAEF534C8E9058797BCD783DE5: header of pbuf data structure.
  • 168: size of the message object or file size in bytes.
  • 0: filename, which is always the default of 0 (null).
  • 1: command type, hardcoded to 1 or 0 depending on the sample.
  • 4116: command ID.
  • 0: quality of service (QoS).
  • 00-00-00-00-00-00: meant to be MAC address of the destination but always defaults to 00-00-00-00-00-00.

The data inside each file represents the controller’s command for the backdoor and the necessary parameters to execute it. Figure 16 shows an example of a C&C server message stored as file data.

Figure 16. Message from the C&C server
Figure 16. Message from the C&C server

By reverse engineering Nightdoor, we were able to understand the meaning of the important fields presented in the file, as shown in Figure 17.

Figure 17. Nightdoor command file format
Figure 17. Nightdoor command file format

We found that many meaningful changes were added to the Nightdoor version used in this campaign, one of them being the organization of command IDs. In previous versions, each command ID was assigned to a handler function one by one, as shown in Figure 18. The numbering choices, such as from 0x2001 to 0x2006, from 0x2201 to 0x2203, from 0x4001 to 0x4003, and from 0x7001 to 0x7005, suggested that commands were divided into groups with similar functionalities.

Figure 18. Nightdoor’s old method of assigning command IDs to handling functions
Figure 18. Nightdoor’s old method of assigning command IDs to handling functions

However, in this version, Nightdoor uses a branch table to organize all the command IDs with their corresponding handlers. The command IDs are continuous throughout and act as indexes to their corresponding handlers in the branch table, as shown in Figure 19.

Figure 19. Nightdoor’s switch statement and the branch table.
Figure 19. Nightdoor’s switch statement and the branch table

Table 3 is a preview of the C&C server commands and their functionalities. This table contains the new command IDs as well as the equivalent IDs from older versions.

Table 3. Commands supported by the Nightdoor variants used in this campaign.

Command ID

Previous command ID

Description

0x1001

0x2001

Collect basic system profile information such as:

– OS version

– IPv4 network adapters, MAC addresses, and IP addresses

– CPU name

– Computer name

– Username

– Device driver names

– All usernames from C:\Users\*

– Local time

– Public IP address using the ifconfig.me or ipinfo.io webservice

0x1007

0x2002

Collect information about disk drives such as:

– Drive name

– Free space and total space

– File system type: NTFS, FAT32, etc.

0x1004

0x2003

Collect information on all installed applications under Windows registry keys:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\

WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\
CurrentVersion\Uninstall (x64)

Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall (x86)

0x1003

0x2004

Collect information on running processes, such as:

– Process name

– Number of threads

– Username

– File location on disk

– Description of file on disk

0x1006

0x4001

Create a reverse shell and manage input and output via anonymous pipes.

0x4002

0x4003

0x1002

N/A

Self-uninstall.

0x100C

0x6001

Move file. The path is provided by the C&C server.

0x100B

0x6002

Delete file. The path is provided by the C&C server.

0x1016

0x6101

Get file attributes. The path is provided by the C&C server.

Conclusion

We have analyzed a campaign by the China-aligned APT Evasive Panda that targeted Tibetans in several countries and territories. We believe that the attackers capitalized, at the time, on the upcoming Monlam festival in January and February of 2024 to compromise users when they visited the festival’s website-turned-watering-hole. In addition, the attackers compromised the supply chain of a software developer of Tibetan language translation apps.

The attackers fielded several downloaders, droppers, and backdoors, including MgBot – which is used exclusively by Evasive Panda – and Nightdoor: the latest major addition to the group’s toolkit and which has been used to target several networks in East Asia.

A comprehensive list of Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) and samples can be found in our GitHub repository.

For any inquiries about our research published on WeLiveSecurity, please contact us at threatintel@eset.com.
ESET Research offers private APT intelligence reports and data feeds. For any inquiries about this service, visit the ESET Threat Intelligence page.

IoCs

Files

SHA-1

Filename

Detection

Description

0A88C3B4709287F70CA2
549A29353A804681CA78

autorun.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFU

Dropper component added to the official installer package.

1C7DF9B0023FB97000B7
1C7917556036A48657C5

default_ico.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFN

Intermediate downloader.

F0F8F60429E3316C463F
397E8E29E1CB2D925FC2

default_ico.exe

Win64/Agent.DLY

Intermediate downloader programmed in Rust.

7A3FC280F79578414D71
D70609FBDB49EC6AD648

default_ico.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFQ

Nightdoor downloader.

70B743E60F952A1238A4
69F529E89B0EB71B5EF7

UjGnsPwFaEtl.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFS

Nightdoor dropper.

FA44028115912C95B5EF
B43218F3C7237D5C349F

RPHost.dll

Win32/Agent.AGFM

Intermediate loader.

5273B45C5EABE64EDBD0
B79F5D1B31E2E8582324

certificate.pkg

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS dropper component.

5E5274C7D931C1165AA5
92CDC3BFCEB4649F1FF7

certificate.exe

Win32/Agent.AGES

Dropper component from the compromised website.

59AA9BE378371183ED41
9A0B24C019CCF3DA97EC

default_ico_1.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFO

Nightdoor dropper component.

8591A7EE00FB1BB7CC5B
0417479681290A51996E

memmgrset.dll

Win32/Agent.AGGH

Intermediate loader for Nightdoor downloader component.

82B99AD976429D0A6C54
5B64C520BE4880E1E4B8

pidgin.dll

Win32/Agent.AGGI

Intermediate loader for Nightdoor.

3EEE78EDE82F6319D094
787F45AFD9BFB600E971

Monlam_Grand_Tibetan_Dictionary_2018.zip

Win32/Agent.AGFM

Trojanized installer.

2A96338BACCE3BB687BD
C274DAAD120F32668CF4

jquery.js

JS/TrojanDownloader.Agent.AAPA

Malicious JavaScript added to the compromised website.

8A389AFE1F85F83E340C
A9DFC0005D904799D44C

Monlam Bodyig 3.1.exe

Win32/Agent.AGFU

Trojanized installer.

944B69B5E225C7712604
EFC289E153210124505C

deutsch-tibetisches_w__rterbuch_installer_windows.zip

MSIL/Agent.WSK

Trojanized installer package.

A942099338C946FC196C
62E87942217BF07FC5B3

monlam-bodyig3.zip

Win32/Agent.AGFU

Trojanized installer package.

52FE3FD399ED15077106
BAE9EA475052FC8B4ACC

Monlam-Grand-Tibetan-Dictionary-for-mac-OS-X.zip

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS trojanized installer package.

57FD698CCB5CB4F90C01
4EFC6754599E5B0FBE54

monlam-bodyig-mac-os.zip

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS trojanized installer package.

C0575AF04850EB1911B0
00BF56E8D5E9362A61E4

Security~.x64

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS downloader.

7C3FD8EE5D660BBF43E4
23818C6A8C3231B03817

Security~.arm64

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS downloader.

FA78E89AB95A0B49BC06
63F7AB33AAF1A924C560

Security.fat

OSX/Agent.DJ

MacOS downloader component.

5748E11C87AEAB3C19D1
3DB899D3E2008BE928AD

Monlam_Grand_Dictionary export file

OSX/Agent.DJ

Malicious component from macOS trojanized installer package.

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Certificates

Serial number

49:43:74:D8:55:3C:A9:06:F5:76:74:E2:4A:13:E9:33

Thumbprint

77DBCDFACE92513590B7C3A407BE2717C19094E0

Subject CN

Apple Development: ya ni yang (2289F6V4BN)

Subject O

ya ni yang

Subject L

N/A

Subject S

N/A

Subject C

US

Valid from

2024-01-04 05:26:45

Valid to

2025-01-03 05:26:44

Serial number

6014B56E4FFF35DC4C948452B77C9AA9

Thumbprint

D4938CB5C031EC7F04D73D4E75F5DB5C8A5C04CE

Subject CN

KP MOBILE

Subject O

KP MOBILE

Subject L

N/A

Subject S

N/A

Subject C

KR

Valid from

2021-10-25 00:00:00

Valid to

2022-10-25 23:59:59

 

IP

Domain

Hosting provider

First seen

Details

N/A

tibetpost[.]net

N/A

2023-11-29

Compromised website.

N/A

www.monlamit[.]com

N/A

2024-01-24

Compromised website.

N/A

update.devicebug[.]com

N/A

2024-01-14

C&C.

188.208.141[.]204

N/A

Amol Hingade

2024-02-01

Download server for Nightdoor dropper component.

 

MITRE ATT&CK techniques

This table was built using version 14 of the MITRE ATT&CK framework.

Tactic

ID

Name

Description

Resource Development

T1583.004

Acquire Infrastructure: Server

Evasive Panda acquired servers for the C&C infrastructure of Nightdoor, MgBot, and the macOS downloader component.

T1583.006

Acquire Infrastructure: Web Services

Evasive Panda used Google Drive’s web service for Nightdoor’s C&C infrastructure.

T1584.004

Compromise Infrastructure: Server

Evasive Panda operators compromised several servers to use as watering holes, for a supply-chain attack, and to host payloads and use as C&C servers.

T1585.003

Establish Accounts: Cloud Accounts

Evasive Panda created a Google Drive account and used it as C&C infrastructure.

T1587.001

Develop Capabilities: Malware

Evasive Panda deployed custom implants such as MgBot, Nightdoor, and a macOS downloader component.

T1588.003

Obtain Capabilities: Code Signing Certificates

Evasive Panda obtained code-signing certificates.

T1608.004

Stage Capabilities: Drive-by Target

Evasive Panda operators modified a high-profile website to add a piece of JavaScript code that renders a fake notification to download malware.

Initial Access

T1189

Drive-by Compromise

Visitors to compromised websites may receive a fake error message enticing them to download malware.

T1195.002

Supply Chain Compromise: Compromise Software Supply Chain

Evasive Panda trojanized official installer packages from a software company.

Execution

T1106

Native API

Nightdoor, MgBot, and their intermediate downloader components use Windows APIs to create processes.

T1053.005

Scheduled Task/Job: Scheduled Task

Nightdoor and MgBot’s loader components can create scheduled tasks.

Persistence

T1543.003

Create or Modify System Process: Windows Service

Nightdoor and MgBot’s loader components can create Windows services.

T1574.002

Hijack Execution Flow: DLL Side-Loading

Nightdoor and MgBot’s dropper components deploy a legitimate executable file that side-loads a malicious loader.

Defense Evasion

T1140

Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information

DLL components of the Nightdoor implant are decrypted in memory.

T1562.004

Impair Defenses: Disable or Modify System Firewall

Nightdoor adds two Windows Firewall rules to allow inbound and outbound communi­cation for its HTTP proxy server functionality.

T1070.004

Indicator Removal: File Deletion

Nightdoor and MgBot can delete files.

T1070.009

Indicator Removal: Clear Persistence

Nightdoor and MgBot can uninstall themselves.

T1036.004

Masquerading: Masquerade Task or Service

Nightdoor’s loader disguised its task as netsvcs.

T1036.005

Masquerading: Match Legitimate Name or Location

Nightdoor’s installer deploys its components into legitimate system directories.

T1027.009

Obfuscated Files or Information: Embedded Payloads

Nightdoor’s dropper component contains embedded malicious files that are deployed on disk.

T1055.001

Process Injection: Dynamic-link Library Injection

Nightdoor and MgBot’s loaders components inject themselves into svchost.exe.

T1620

Reflective Code Loading

Nightdoor and MgBot’s loader components inject themselves into svchost.exe, from where they load the Nightdoor or MgBot backdoor.

Discovery

T1087.001

Account Discovery: Local Account

Nightdoor and MgBot collect user account information from the compromised system.

T1083

File and Directory Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot can collect information from directories and files.

T1057

Process Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot collect information about processes.

T1012

Query Registry

Nightdoor and MgBot query the Windows registry to find information about installed software.

T1518

Software Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot collect information about installed software and services.

T1033

System Owner/User Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot collect user account information from the compromised system.

T1082

System Information Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot collect a wide range of information about the compromised system.

T1049

System Network Connections Discovery

Nightdoor and MgBot can collect data from all active TCP and UDP connections on the compromised machine.

Collection

T1560

Archive Collected Data

Nightdoor and MgBot store collected data in encrypted files.

T1119

Automated Collection

Nightdoor and MgBot automatically collect system and network information about the compromised machine.

T1005

Data from Local System

Nightdoor and MgBot collect information about the operating system and user data.

T1074.001

Data Staged: Local Data Staging

Nightdoor stages data for exfiltration in files on disk.

Command and Control

T1071.001

Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols

Nightdoor communicates with the C&C server using HTTP.

T1095

Non-Application Layer Protocol

Nightdoor communicates with the C&C server using UDP. MgBot communicates with the C&C server using TCP.

T1571

Non-Standard Port

MgBot uses TCP port 21010.

T1572

Protocol Tunneling

Nightdoor can act as an HTTP proxy server, tunneling TCP communication.

T1102

Web Service

Nightdoor uses Google Drive for C&C communication.

Exfiltration

T1020

Automated Exfiltration

Nightdoor and MgBot automatically exfiltrate collected data.

T1567.002

Exfiltration Over Web Service: Exfiltration to Cloud Storage

Nightdoor can exfiltrate its files to Google Drive.

Appendix

The targeted IP address ranges are provided in the following table.

CIDR

ISP

City

Country

124.171.71.0/24

iiNet

Sydney

Australia

125.209.157.0/24

iiNet

Sydney

Australia

1.145.30.0/24

Telstra

Sydney

Australia

193.119.100.0/24

TPG Telecom

Sydney

Australia

14.202.220.0/24

TPG Telecom

Sydney

Australia

123.243.114.0/24

TPG Telecom

Sydney

Australia

45.113.1.0/24

HK 92server Technology

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

172.70.191.0/24

Cloudflare

Ahmedabad

India

49.36.224.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Airoli

India

106.196.24.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Bengaluru

India

106.196.25.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Bengaluru

India

14.98.12.0/24

Tata Teleservices

Bengaluru

India

172.70.237.0/24

Cloudflare

Chandīgarh

India

117.207.51.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Dalhousie

India

103.214.118.0/24

Airnet Boardband

Delhi

India

45.120.162.0/24

Ani Boardband

Delhi

India

103.198.173.0/24

Anonet

Delhi

India

103.248.94.0/24

Anonet

Delhi

India

103.198.174.0/24

Anonet

Delhi

India

43.247.41.0/24

Anonet

Delhi

India

122.162.147.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Delhi

India

103.212.145.0/24

Excitel

Delhi

India

45.248.28.0/24

Omkar Electronics

Delhi

India

49.36.185.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Delhi

India

59.89.176.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Dharamsala

India

117.207.57.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Dharamsala

India

103.210.33.0/24

Vayudoot

Dharamsala

India

182.64.251.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Gāndarbal

India

117.255.45.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Haliyal

India

117.239.1.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Hamīrpur

India

59.89.161.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Jaipur

India

27.60.20.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Lucknow

India

223.189.252.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Lucknow

India

223.188.237.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Meerut

India

162.158.235.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

162.158.48.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

162.158.191.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

162.158.227.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

172.69.87.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

172.70.219.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

172.71.198.0/24

Cloudflare

Mumbai

India

172.68.39.0/24

Cloudflare

New Delhi

India

59.89.177.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Pālampur

India

103.195.253.0/24

Protoact Digital Network

Ranchi

India

169.149.224.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Shimla

India

169.149.226.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Shimla

India

169.149.227.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Shimla

India

169.149.229.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Shimla

India

169.149.231.0/24

Reliance Jio Infocomm

Shimla

India

117.255.44.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Sirsi

India

122.161.241.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Srinagar

India

122.161.243.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Srinagar

India

122.161.240.0/24

Bharti Airtel

Srinagar

India

117.207.48.0/24

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

Yol

India

175.181.134.0/24

New Century InfoComm

Hsinchu

Taiwan

36.238.185.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Kaohsiung

Taiwan

36.237.104.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Tainan

Taiwan

36.237.128.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Tainan

Taiwan

36.237.189.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Tainan

Taiwan

42.78.14.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Tainan

Taiwan

61.216.48.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Tainan

Taiwan

36.230.119.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

114.43.219.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

114.44.214.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

114.45.2.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

118.163.73.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

118.167.21.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

220.129.70.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Taipei

Taiwan

106.64.121.0/24

Far EasTone Telecommunications

Taoyuan City

Taiwan

1.169.65.0/24

Chunghwa Telecom

Xizhi

Taiwan

122.100.113.0/24

Taiwan Mobile

Yilan

Taiwan

185.93.229.0/24

Sucuri Security

Ashburn

United States

128.61.64.0/24

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta

United States

216.66.111.0/24

Vermont Telephone

Wallingford

United States

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