Another in our occasional series demystifying Latin American banking trojans

In this installment of our blog series, we will focus on Mispadu, an ambitious Latin American banking trojan that utilizes McDonald’s malvertising and extends its attack surface to web browsers.

We believe this malware family is targeting the general public. Its main goals are monetary and credential theft. In Brazil, we have seen it distributing a malicious Chrome extension that attempts to steal credit card data and online banking data, and that compromises the Boleto payment system.

Characteristics

Mispadu is a malware family, identified during our research of Latin American banking trojans, that targets Brazil and Mexico. It is written in Delphi and attacks its victims using the same method as the families described earlier in this series: by displaying fake pop-up windows and trying to persuade the potential victims to divulge sensitive information.

For its functionality, Mispadu can take screenshots, simulate mouse and keyboard actions, and capture keystrokes. It can update itself via a Visual Basic Script (VBS) file that it downloads and executes.

As with the other Latin American banking trojans, Mispadu also collects information about its victims, namely:

  • OS version
  • computer name
  • language ID
  • whether Diebold Warsaw GAS Tecnologia (an , popular in Brazil, to protect access to online banking) is installed
  • list of installed common Latin American banking applications
  • list of installed security products

As in the cases of Amavaldo and Casbaneiro, Mispadu can also be identified by its use of a unique, custom cryptographic algorithm to obfuscate the strings in its code. This is used in all components, as well as to protect its configuration files and C&C communications. Figure 1 illustrates the core code implementing this algorithm, and Figure 2 pseudocode for the algorithm.

- Figure01 DataCryptoAlg - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 1. Core of Mispadu’s algorithm for data decryption



Figure 2. Pseudocode of Mispadu’s algorithm for data decryption

The banking trojan executable comes with four potentially unwanted applications stored in its resource section. These applications are all otherwise legitimate files from Nirsoft, but have been patched to run from the command line with no GUI. They are used by the malware to extract stored credentials from:

  • browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer), and
  • email clients ( Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Windows Live Mail, among others).

Mispadu also monitors the content of the clipboard and tries to replace potential bitcoin wallets with its own, as Casbaneiro did. However, from examining the attacker’s wallet (see Figure 3), it has not been very successful to date.

- Figure03 BitcoinWallet - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 3. Bitcoin wallet used by the Mispadu operator

Distribution

Mispadu employs two distribution methods: spam (see Figure 4) and malvertising. While the former method is very common for Latin American banking trojans, the latter is not, so let’s look at it more closely. Figure 5 shows how the Mispadu attack unfolds.

- Figure04 MaliciousEmails - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 4. Examples of spam emails distributing Mispadu. The one targeting Brazil (left) claims the recipient has been absent for three package delivery attempts and should follow the URL to get a refund. The one targeting Mexico (right) urges the recipient to download an invoice to avoid account “blockage”.

- Figure05 DistributionChainFlow 300x257 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 5. Mispadu’s distribution and execution chain

The threat actor placed sponsored advertisements (see Figure 6 for a Brazilian example) on Facebook offering fake discount coupons for McDonald’s. Clicking the advertisements leads the potential victim to one of the webpages shown in Figure 7. Regardless of a visitor’s OS, clicking the button there leads to downloading a ZIP archive containing an MSI installer. Occasionally, this archive also contains legitimate software such as Mozilla Firefox or PuTTY, but they are mere decoys and are not used at all.

Mispadu operators compiled two different versions of the banking trojan based on the country it attacks. Besides that, they decided to use different installers and subsequent stages for each attacked country. However, the logic of both chains is the same and we describe that general form below.

- Figure06 FacebookAds 300x258 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 6. Facebook ads set up by the Mispadu operators leading to fake McDonald’s coupon websites (translation of the ad title: “Use them on any September day! Independence coupons. Get yours now”)

- Figure07 FakeWebsites 300x185 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 7. Malicious webpages offering fake discount coupons for McDonald’s Brazil (left) and Mexico (right) (translation of the main of both: “This coupon can be used only once. I want! / Generate coupon”)

When the potential victim executes the MSI installer, a chain of three subsequent VBS scripts follows. The first script (unpacker) decrypts and executes the second script (downloader) from its internal data, as seen in Figure 8. The downloader script retrieves the third script (loader) and executes it (see Figure 9).

- Figure08 DistributionStage1 300x240 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 8. Mispadu distribution chain unpacker script (stage 1). Notice the key is calculated in variable w2 to the value 95.

- Figure09 DistributionStage2 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 9. Mispadu distribution chain downloader script (stage 2). Notice the hardcoded key is the same as in the previous stage.

The loader script is more complicated than the first two stages. It is locale-specific; it checks the language identifier of the potential victim machine to verify it really comes from the country targeted by the current (Brazil or Mexico, respectively). It can detect some virtual environments as well; if a virtual environment is detected or the desired locale is not found, the loader quits.

Otherwise, the loader script continues by setting up configuration files (described in detail later) and downloading (i) a Mispadu banking trojan, (ii) an injector (DLL) used to execute it and (iii) legitimate support DLLs. Each file is downloaded in a separate ZIP archive as illustrated in Figure 5. We provide pseudocode for the decryption algorithm in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Pseudocode of Mispadu’s payload decryption algorithm

Mispadu’s download servers check the validity of requests they receive. Sending an invalid request results in an obscene image response we cannot reproduce here.

Finally, the loader script sets up persistence by creating a link in the startup folder and executing the injector. This is done via rundll32.exe by calling an exported function of the injector DLL whose name comes from one of the previously set up configuration files. The injector locates the encrypted banking trojan, then decrypts and executes it.

We found an open directory on one of the servers Mispadu uses, and files connected to a very similar campaign were stored there. Those files can be used to set up a webpage imitating AreaVIP (a tabloid website in Brazil) and to force a fake Adobe Flash Player update on its potential victims. We have not observed that campaign in the wild and believe it may be a setup for the future.

Since the Mispadu campaign targeting Brazil used the Tiny.CC URL shortener, we were able to gather statistics. As seen in Figure 11, this campaign produced almost 100,000 clicks, exclusively from Brazil. The clicks originating from are most likely the result of the fact that the advertisement is shown on Facebook regardless of the user’s device. You can also see that the campaign is recurring – one phase ended in the second half of September and emerged again at the beginning of October .

- Figure11 BrazilStats 256x300 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 11. Brazilian Mispadu campaign statistics

Sharing an email attachment

Both spam emails and the fake McDonald’s website are interesting in one more aspect: from where the fake coupon is downloaded. Mispadu’s operators abused the Russian Yandex.Mail platform to store their payload (see Figure 12). The most probable scenario is that the operators created an account on Yandex.Mail, sent an email with the malicious coupon as an attachment to themselves and then pointed the potential victim to a direct link to this attachment.

- Figure12 YandexLink - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 12. The URL from which the archive containing the malicious Mispadu MSI installer is downloaded

Configuration

The use of configuration files is quite uncommon among Latin American banking trojans; yet, overall, Mispadu utilizes three different ones and it cannot function without them. All of the configuration files are either contained in, or obtained by, the loader script described earlier.

Mispadu’s execution configuration is stored solely in memory with data downloaded from one of its download servers (Remote server 1 in Figure 5). It contains three crucial pieces of information:

  • a string necessary to create the URL to download the injector
  • the name of the folder where the malware will be installed
  • the name of the injector’s exported function to be called in order for it to execute the banking trojan

General configuration data are dropped to C:UsersPublic%COMPUTERNAME%[1], being named as the second letter in the victim’s computer name (so for a computer named “JOHN-PC”, the file would be named “O”). It is created from data contained in the loader script and in the execution configuration file and contains the version information, cryptographic key and file system paths.

C&C configuration data are stored to a file in the same location as the previous one under the same filename with “_” appended (“O_”, to continue the previous example). It consists of:

  • #ip# (a placeholder for an IP address the banking trojan uses to receive backdoor commands)
  • #wp[1-3]# (placeholders for 3 ports associated with #ip#)
  • two lists of 31 domains each (main list and backup list)

Mispadu chooses its main and backup C&C domains from these lists based on the current day of the month. It then tries to obtain an updated version of the C&C configuration file from that domain every few hours and replaces the dropped one with it. We believe the main idea behind this approach is to fill in the placeholders in order to activate the backdoor functionality.

Protect your Chrome

It’s a good idea, just don’t do it with the malicious Google Chrome browser extension we have observed being distributed together with the Mispadu banking trojan in Brazil (see Figure 13). The extension (see Figure 14 is named “Securty [sic] System 1.0” and claims to help you “Protege seu Chrome” (translation: “Protect your Chrome”). It consists of three malicious JavaScript files that we describe below.

- Figure13 ChromeExtDistributionChainFlow 300x144 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 13. Part of Mispadu’s distribution chain that changes when the malicious Google Chrome extension is distributed as well. The rest of the distribution chain remains the same.

 

- Figure14 ChromeExtensionInstaller - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 14. The malicious Google Chrome extension installed by Mispadu

Component 1: Manipulating windows

This simple component has only a single functionality: it creates a new Google Chrome window and closes all others. This component was not present in all samples we analyzed and we believe it is still in the testing phase.

Component 2: Stealing credit card data

The second component contains a hardcoded list of websites. In pages served from these sites, it looks for any input field containing “text”, “email”, “tel”, “number”, “password” or “radio”. If “CVV”, “CÓD SEG” or their variants are found anywhere on the website, the content of those input fields is sent to the attacker when the victim submits the information. This clearly reveals the intention of this part of the extension – theft of credit card data.

Component 3: Stealing banking and Boleto data

The third component is the most advanced one. First, using a DGS-like algorithm, it generates two strings based on current day of month and month number. Those strings are then used to form a GitHub URL in the form of https://raw.githubusercontent.com/%FIRST_STRING%/w/master/%SECOND_STRING%, where %FIRST_STRING% is a GitHub username. Data downloaded from the generated URL are decrypted into a different URL we will call payload URL.

This component also contains a hardcoded list of targeted websites, as the previous one did. If the victim visits one of these websites, a malicious JavaScript file specific to that website is obtained from the payload URL and dynamically loaded via JavaScript’s eval function.

Besides that, this component also attempts to compromise the use of Boleto, a popular payment system common in Brazil. The system has been an attractive target for attackers for a long time (you can read more in this paper from 2014). To pay using this system, you have to print a ticket (boleto). That contains mainly an ID number specific to the bank account that should receive the payment, and a barcode (see Figure 15). Payment is then done by either scanning the barcode or typing the ID number manually.

- Figure15 BoletoBancario - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 15. An example of a boleto (source: Wikipedia)

Using a regular expression, the malware component tries to find the ID number and replace it with the attacker’s (obtained dynamically). Additionally, it abuses a legitimate website to generate the payment barcode using the attacker’s account number and replaces the legitimate one with that. The part of the code responsible for compromising Boleto is shown in Figure 16.

- Figure16 BoletoHijack 300x285 - Mispadu: Advertisement for a discounted Unhappy Meal

Figure 16. Mispadu’s Google Chrome extension that compromises Boleto. Code obtaining the attacker’s account number is marked in red, malicious barcode generation in green.

Differences between campaigns

Besides the already mentioned differences and the obvious fact that each variant of the Mispadu banking trojan targets a different set of banks dependent on country of residence, the Brazilian campaign differs from the Mexican one in several other minor aspects.

It seems to randomize the file system paths and filenames where configuration files are stored and the banking trojan is installed for each victim. Additionally, the loader script contains a part that is not used at the time of writing but that is ready to abuse Windows mshta.exe to execute the actual banking trojan instead of rundll.exe.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we have talked about Mispadu, another Latin American banking trojan family isolated during our research. We have shown its main characteristics including reasons why we consider it a Latin American banking trojan – it is written in Delphi, targets Brazil and Mexico, uses pop-up windows and contains backdoor functionality.

We have described its most recent distribution chain and focused on some interesting aspects like Yandex.Mail being abused to store the malicious payloads and the usage of malicious Facebook ads. We have analyzed the configuration files used by Mispadu as well.

Finally, we have talked about a malicious Google Chrome extension that we have seen Mispadu distributing in Brazil. This extension’s goal is to steal credit card information, sensitive banking information and attempt to steal money from its victims by compromising the Boleto payment system in Brazil.

For any inquiries, contact us at [email protected] Indicators of Compromise can also be found in our GitHub repository.

Indicators of Compromise (IoCs)

Hashes

Brazilian campaign

SHA-1 Description ESET detection name
A4EDA0DD2C33A644FEEF170F5C24CF7595C19017 MSI installer VBS/TrojanDownloader.Agent.RVY
A9BADCBF3BD5C22EEB6FAF7DB8FC0A24CF18D121 Mispadu injector Win32/Injector.EHXF
337892E76F3B2DF0CA851CCF4479E56EAF2DB8FD Mispadu banking trojan (PE compilation timestamp 8 Sep, 2019) Win32/Spy.Mispadu.C
A8CD12CC0BBD06F14AA136EA5A9A2E299E450B18 Mispadu banking trojan (PE compilation timestamp 2 Oct, 2019) Win32/Spy.Mispadu.C

Mexican campaign

SHA-1 Description ESET detection name
CFE21DBFB97C2E93F099D351DE54099A3FC0C98B MSI installer VBS/TrojanDownloader.Agent.RVY
251AC7386D1B376FB1CB0E02BDFC45472387C7BC Mispadu injector Win32/Injector.EHXF
A4FC4162162A02CE6FEADFE07B22465686A0EC39 Mispadu banking trojan (PE compilation timestamp 10 Sep, 2019) Win32/Spy.Mispadu.J
710A20230B9774B3D725539385D714B2F80A5599 Mispadu banking trojan (PE compilation timestamp 11 Sep, 2019) Win32/Spy.Mispadu.J

Google Chrome extension

SHA-1 Description ESET detection name
3486F6F21034A33C5425A398839DE80AC88FECA8 Component 1 (manipulating windows) JS/Spy.Banker.DQ
1D19191FB2E9DED396B6352CBF5A6746193D05E8 Component 2 (credit cards) JS/Spy.Banker.DQ
22E6EBDFAB7C2B07FF8748AFE264737C8260E81E Component 3 (banking and Boleto data) JS/Spy.Banker.DQ

Potentially unwanted applications for credential theft

SHA-1 Description ESET detection name
63DCBE2DB9CC14564EB84D5E953F2F9F5C54ACD9 Email client credential stealer Win32/PSWTool.MailPassView.E
8B950BF660AA7B5FB619E1F6E665D348BF56C86A Google Chrome credential stealer Win32/PSWTool.ChromePass.A
F6021380AD6E26038B5629189A7ADA5E0022C313 Mozilla Firefox credential stealer Win32/PSWTool.PassFox.F
76F70276EB95FFEC876010211B7198BCBC460646 Internet Explorer credential stealer Win32/PSWTool.IEPassView.NAH

Filenames

  • C:UsersPublic%COMPUTERNAME%[1]
  • C:UsersPublic%COMPUTERNAME%[1]_
  • C:UsersPublic{winx86,libeay32,ssleay32}.dll (legitimate DLLs downloaded by the loader script; partial indicator)

Servers used

  • http://18.219.25[.]133/br/mp1a{1,sq,sl,ss}.aj5
  • http://3.19.223[.]147/br/mp1a{1,sq,sl,ss}.aj5
  • http://51.75.95[.]179/la8a{1,sq,sl,ss}.ay2

Discount coupon URLs

  • Brazil
    • http://promoscupom[.]cf/
    • http://mcdonalds.promoscupom[.]cf/index3.html
  • Mexico
    • http://mcdonalds.promoscupom[.]cf/index2.html

Bitcoin wallet

  • 3QWffRcMw6mmwv4dCyYZsXYFq7Le9jpuWc

MITRE ATT&CK techniques

Tactic ID Name Description
Initial Access T1192 Spearphishing Link In Mispadu spam campaigns, the victim is led to the payload by a malicious link.
Execution T1085 Rundll32 Mispadu banking trojan is executed by an injector that is run via rundll32.exe.
Persistence T1176 Browser Extensions Mispadu variant targeting Brazil utilizes a Google Chrome browser extension.
T1060 Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder Mispadu ensures persistence by creating a link in the startup folder.
Defense Evasion T1140 Deobfuscate/Decode Files or Information Mispadu uses encoded configuration files.
T1036 Masquerading Mispadu masquerades as a discount coupon.
T1064 Scripting Mispadu utilizes VBS exclusively in its distribution chains.
Credential Access T1056 Input Capture Mispadu may execute a keylogger. Its Google Chrome extension tries to steal various sensitive information via input capturing.
T1081 Credentials in Files Mispadu uses other tools to extract credentials for email clients and web browsers from files.
T1214 Credentials in Registry Mispadu uses other tools to extract credentials for email clients and web browsers from the Windows Registry.
Discovery T1083 File and Directory Discovery Mispadu searches for various filesystem paths in order to determine what applications are installed on the victim’s machine.
T1057 Process Discovery Mispadu searches for various process names in order to determine what applications are running on the victim’s machine.
T1063 Security Software Discovery Mispadu scans the system for installed security software.
T1082 System Information Discovery Mispadu extracts the version of the operating system, computer name and language ID.
Collection T1115 Clipboard Data Mispadu captures and replaces bitcoin wallets in the clipboard.
T1113 Screen Capture Mispadu contains a command to take screenshots.
Command and Control T1024 Custom Cryptographic Protocol Mispadu uses a custom cryptographic protocol to protect its data.
Exfiltration T1041 Exfiltration Over Command and Control Channel Mispadu sends the data it collects to its C&C server.






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