Monday, November 26, 2012

Koobface Botnet Master KrotReal Back in Business, Distributes Ransomware And Promotes BHSEO Service/Product

On January 09, 2012 I exposed Koobface botnet master KrotReal. On January 16, 2012, The New York Times went public with data from Facebook Inc. exposing the identities of the rest of the group. What happened? With the botnet masters still at large, and the Koobface botnet currently offline, a logical question emerges - what are these cybercriminals up to now that they're no longer involved in managing Koobface?

Cybercrime as usual!

Continuing to squeeze the cybercrime ecosystem, and keep known bad actors on a short leash, in this intelligence brief I'll expose Anton Nikolaevich Korotchenko a.k.a KrotReal's s latest activities, indicating that he's currently busy experimenting with two projects:
  • A Black Hat (SEO) Search Engine Optimization related service/product
  • Underground traffic exchange/pay-pay-install network currently distributing localized Ransomware
Just like the case when KrotReal's real life identity was revealed due to a single mistake he made over a period of several years, namely to register a Koobface command and control server using his personal GMail account, in this intelligence brief I'll once again expose his malicious and fraudulent activities by profiling two of the most recently domains he once again registered with his personal GMail account.

Let's start by profiling his Black Hat SEO service/product, currently hosted on one of the domains he registered in 2011. - - Email:
Created On:28-Jul-2011 12:37:45 UTC
Last Updated On:28-Jun-2012 08:11:43 UTC
Expiration Date:28-Jul-2013 12:37:45 UTC

The service/produce apparently allows the systematic abuse of legitimate blogging platforms such as Google's Blogger and Wordpress, next to Yoom CMS. KrotReal himself might be using the tool, or sell/offer access to it as a managed service. Does this mean he's not using it by himself to monetize the hijacked legitimate traffic that he's able to obtain through his Black Hat SEO campaigns? Not at all.

More domains presumably to be used for Black Hat SEO purposes registered with KrotReal's personal email account (

How is he actually monetizing the hijacked traffic? Keep reading. Now it's time to expose his malicious activities in the form of spreading localized Ransomware variants. For the record, the Koobface gang distributed primarly scareware -- there's evidence that the group was also involved in other malicious campaigns -- and even bragged about the fact that they're not damaging infected user PCs.

What's particularly interesting about profiling this campaign, is that it's a great example of double-layer monetization, as KrotReal is earning revenue through the Traffic Holder Adult Affiliate Program, in between serving client-side exploits and ultimately dropping Ransomware on the affected host using the same redirection chain.

Sample malicious domain name reconnaissance: - (AS24940) - Email:
Created On:22-Nov-2011 13:42:53 UTC
Last Updated On:22-Nov-2012 22:33:25 UTC
Expiration Date:22-Nov-2013 13:42:53 UTC

Responding to the same IP (AS24940):

Sample malicious activity redirection chain: hxxp:// -> hxxp:// -> hxxp:// -> hxxp:// -> hxxp:// ->  hxxp:// -> hxxp:// (exploiting CVE-2008-5353) -> hxxp:// -> hxxp:// -> hxxp:// -> hxxp://

KrotReal's Traffic Holder Adult Affiliate Network ID is ppillow-pics_erotic.

Malicious domain names reconnaissance: - returns "Digital River GmbH" on its home page - - Email:
Updated Date: 30-aug-2012
Creation Date: 30-aug-2012
Expiration Date: 30-aug-2013 - - Email:
Updated Date: 25-nov-2012
Creation Date: 25-nov-2012
Expiration Date: 25-nov-2013

Upon successful client-side exploitation, the campaign drops MD5: d234a238eb8686d08cd4e0b8b705da14 - detected by 10 out of 43 antivirus scanners as Trojan.Winlock.7431

Sample screenshot displayed to users from geolocated countries:
Second screenshot of a sample page displayed to affected U.K users:
Additional malicious payload obtained from the campaign:
MD5: fd47fe3659d7604d93c3ce0c0581fed7 - detected by 4 out of 44 antivirus scanners as Exploit:Java/CVE-2012-5076.BBW
MD5: e47991d7f172e893317f44ee8afe3811 - detected by 5 out of 44 antivirus scanners as JS:Pdfka-gen [Expl]
MD5: 7e58703026c7ffba05ac0d2ae4d3c62f - detected by 5 out of 44 antivirus scanners as Exploit:Java/CVE-2012-1723!generic

Ransomware C&C malicious domain name reconnaissance: - currently responds to (AS20773); (AS20773) - Email:

On 2012-06-21 the domain responded to (AS33626), then on 2012-07-01 it changed IPs to (AS20773), then again on 2012-11-14 it changed IP to (AS20773), followed by one last change on 2012-11-24 to (AS20773)

One more MD5 is known to have phoned back to the same Ransomware C&C URL - MD5: 1600577edece1efe11c75158f9dd24db - detected by 28 out of 38 antivirus scanners as Trojan:Win32/Tobfy.H

Interestingly, the cybercriminals behind the Ransomware left the administration panel open to anyone who wants to take a look at the way the whole process works. 

Sample screenshot of the administration panel:
Second screenshot of the administration panel, showing a directory listing, including unique and localized files for potential victims from multiple countries:

More domains are currently responding to the same IPs (; - Email: - Email: - Email: - - - Email: - Email: - Email: - Email:

What we've got here is a great example of the following - when you don't fear legal prosecution for your fraudulent activities over a period of several years, earning you potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, you just launch new projects, continuing to cause more harm and fraudulently obtain funds from infected victims.
For those who are interested in more details on the technical side of this Ransomware, you should consider going through this research.

Hat tip to Steven Adair from Shadowserver for the additional input.

This post has been reproduced from Dancho Danchev's blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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