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Researchers Sound Alarm on Dangerous BatLoader Malware Dropper

BatLoader has spread rapidly to roost in systems globally, tailoring payloads to its victims.

A dangerous new malware loader with features for determining whether it's on a business system or a personal computer has begun rapidly infecting systems worldwide over the past few months.

Researchers at VMware Carbon Black are tracking the threat, dubbed BatLoader, and say its operators are using the dropper to distribute a variety of malware tools including a banking Trojan, an information stealer, and the Cobalt Strike post-exploit toolkit on victim systems. The threat actor's tactic has been to host the malware on compromised websites and lure users to those sites using search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning methods.

Living Off the Land

BatLoader relies heavily on batch and PowerShell scripts to gain an initial foothold on a victim machine and to download other malware onto it. This has made the campaign hard to detect and block,  especially in the early stages, analysts from VMware Carbon Black's managed detection and response (MDR) team said in a report released on Nov. 14.

VMware said its Carbon Black MDR team had observed 43 successful infections in the last 90 days, in addition to numerous other unsuccessful attempts where a victim downloaded the initial infection file but did not execute it. Nine of the victims were organizations in the business services sector, seven were financial services companies, and five were in manufacturing. Other victims included organizations in the education, retail, IT, and healthcare sectors.

On Nov. 9, eSentire said its threat-hunting team had observed BatLoader's operator luring victims to websites masquerading as download pages for popular business software such as LogMeIn, Zoom, TeamViewer, and AnyDesk. The threat actor distributed links to these websites via ads that showed up prominently in search engine results when users searched for any of these software products.

The security vendor said that in one late October incident, an eSentire customer arrived at a fake LogMeIn download page and downloaded a Windows installer that, among other things, profiles the system and uses the information to retrieve a second-stage payload.

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