NoMoreRansom aka Troldesh Ransomware Delivered by Kelihos

My favorite guest blogger Arsh Arora, a malware analyst and Ph.D. researcher at UAB,  is back with new and interesting facts about Kelihos, a botnet family that he has been tracking for a year and half and providing some great intel about to the community and law enforcement. Today, he noticed that it is delivering URLs leading to Troldesh ransomware. Take it from here, Arsh …

Kelihos botnet delivering Troldesh Ransomware impersonating Bank of America

No_More_Ransom, aka Troldesh encryption ransomware, is being delivered by Kelihos in the form of embedded URLs within the email messages. The delivery mechanism is similar to previous cases of ransomware spammed by Kelihos. In early July, Kelihos introduce itself to the world of ransomware by spamming links to Wildfire ransomware followed by CryptFIle2 ransomware in August. Then, it shifted its focus towards different banking trojans such as Panda Zeus, Nymain and Kronos. Now, it took a complete circle and struck back with Troldesh encryption ransomware. The funny thing is that the ransomware encrypted the files with the extension “.no_more_ransom”. Moreover, the URLs spammed were redirected to download a JavaScript file and a Microsoft Word document. This is the first time that Kelihos malware has used JavaScript to infect users.

Another interesting observation was that this spam campaign was specifically geo-targeting Australian email addresses ending with “.au”.  “.pl” email users were getting dating spam, while “.us” extension emails were being invited to sign up as Money Mules.  All other email TLDs were getting the traditional pharmaceutical spam.

NoMoreRansom aka Troldesh Ransomware

While doing the daily run of malware, one of my fellow researchers at UAB, Max Gannon, noticed a different behavior in the Kelihos botnet. It was sending embedded links using the Credit Debt theme. The most important fact is that some of the URLs were redirected to download a .zip file containing a JavaScript file, while other links download a Microsoft Word document. When writing this blog, most of the URLs were still live. 
Subject: Please Settle Credit Arrears Shortly

Dear Client!

Our Credit Department has done research on your payment record for last year and learned that payments had not been made for last 3 months. We are now working on the issue pertaining to ways to help you with fulfilling liabilities and settling these arrears.

At the same time, we realize you may have had excellent reasons for such payment breakdown. That is exactly why we are contacting you now. Notwithstanding, if you are not proceeding your debt settlement, we will have to engage our enforcement units in commencing the law-suit case against you. This is the compulsory measure, so unfortunately, we may not help you.

Please process at least the very first payment at the earliest possible time. Else, charges may apply, and then the trial may be run.

We have made the full report of your situation. It contains the payment history, the total debt amount effective today, and further recommendations on arranging the issue. Please open and be guided with instructions as soon as possible.

The file can be found here: 
hxxp://greatwesternco[dot]com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php

Sincerely Yours,
Bank of America
Customer Relations Department
.
The following are the different subject lines that were spammed:
URLs that downloaded a .zip file containing JavaScript

Subject – Credit Department Discovered Your Debt – 
hxxp://eileenparker[dot]com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php
Subject – Pay for Credit Debt when Possible – 
hxxp://thehousepartnership[dot]co[dot]uk/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php
Subject – Please Settle Credit Arrears Shortly – 
hxxp://chris-smith-web[dot]com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php
Subject – You Have a 3-Month Credit Debt – 
hxxp://infopro[dot]it/wp-content/themes/twentyeleven/redirect[dot]php
Fig. 1: Zip file downloaded with the embedded URL link
URLs that downloaded a Microsoft Word document
Subject – Please Settle Credit Arrears Shortly – 
hxxp://greatwesternco[dot]com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php
Subject – You Have a 3-Month Credit Debt – 
hxxp://greatwesternco[dot]com/wp-content/themes/twentyten/redirect[dot]php
URL that were unreachable
Subject – Pay for Credit Debt when Possible – 
hxxp://starsounds[dot]net/wp-content/themes/twentyeleven/redirect[dot]php – Down
Infection by JavaScript has not been an associated behavior with Kelihos. Hence, it can be considered a noticeable change and well-thought out strategy by the bot operators.
Hashes of the JavaScript and Word document are:

    1d57eba1cb761b99ffcf6bc8e1273e9c  instructions.doc
711881576383fbfeaaf90b1d6c24fce0  instructions.js
On the other hand, embedded URLs for Microsoft Word documents have been seen before. The document performed in a similar fashion requesting to enable the macros by clicking “Enable Content” aka “Encrypt Me” button. After this process it downloads a payload from the following link:
hxxp://95[.]163[.]127[.]179/777[.]exe
MD5 – 8441efe3901a0ec7f18c6ef5159877cc

Virus Total Link – 777.exe VT

After the file is downloaded, it encrypts the system with the Troldesh encryption ransomware and adds the “no_more_ransom” extension at the end of each file on the system. The ransom note on the desktop was displayed in Russian as well as English.
Fig. 2: Desktop screen after encryption

Fig. 3: Ransom Note found in text ReadMe.txt
All the important files on your computer were encrypted.
To decrypt the files you should send the following code:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
to e-mail address 2Lynness.Taftfera1990@gmail[dot]com .
Then you will receive all necessary instructions.
All the attempts of decryption by yourself will result only in irrevocable loss of your data.
If you still want to try to decrypt them by yourself please make a backup at first because
the decryption will become impossible in case of any changes inside the files.
If you did not receive the answer from the aforecited email for more than 48 hours (and only in this case!),
use the feedback form. You can do it by two ways:
1) Download Tor Browser from here:
https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en
Install it and type the following address into the address bar:
http://cryptsen7fo43rr6.onion/
Press Enter and then the page with feedback form will be loaded.
2) Go to the one of the following addresses in any browser:
http://cryptsen7fo43rr6.onion.to/
http://cryptsen7fo43rr6.onion.cab/
The above is a plain text version of the ransom note. As it can be seen, a Gmail address is being use, which is one of its kind behavior.
Troldesh did not stop trolling the victim there, it downloads the PONY malware and contacts its command and control center at this location:

 hxxp://ipieceofcake[dot]com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/gate[dot]php
When I visited the link it was down, but thanks to our Malware expert Neera Desai who works for PhishMe and is pursuing her Masters in Computer Forensics at UAB, we were able to visit the panel page of the Pony malware.
Fig. 4: Pony malware panel page
This was really fascinating as Kelihos spammed URLs for Troldesh encryption ransomware with redirects to a malicious Microsoft Word document and a zip file containing JavaScript. The files eventually encrypt the system but it also downloads the Pony malware to steal all the information from the victim’s computer. Hence, causing a double blow to the victim.

Money Mule Spam 

Kelihos botnet was not in a mood to stop. It also sent Money Mule spam geo-targeting users with the “.us” United States email address. It impersonated a company from ‘China looking for employees’. 
Text of the email is as follows:
Subject: China company is looking for employees

We are the greatest transport company in China involved in 
transportation of high-dimension goods across the globe. At present, 
we are aimed at expanding by opening offices across the globe for 
deliveries of small consignments. We are looking for employees to 
open offices and ensure services (deployment and supervision of 
packages). All costs for the office establishment are undertaken by 
the organization. During the first month of your job, you and our 
employees are to be engaged in searching for the storage structure. 
You will be also required to appoint some amount of orders to your 
home address (not more than 10kg parcels a day) in order to check 
them for flaws and ship forward with pre-paid labels. We have a 
certain flow of parcels to date, and the work is already jogging on; 
if you are ready to start your operation right away, we are ready to 
pay 2800$ a month. In due course your salary will increase up to 
3500$ if you agree to work in the future office.

You have the following options of working with us:
1. You are working at home for the first month, receiving packages 
and shipping them forward; starting looking for an office place in 
your town (all the instructions you will receive from our managers)
2. You continue to work from home and get 2900$ every month, plus 
bonuses for fast shipped package
3. If something doesn’t fit you and you decide to stop the job with 
us, we will pay you monthly salary and be waiting for you again in 
our team in the future!

If you have any questions please contact us at: kia01915@aol[dot]com

All costs for establishment the office are taken by the company, 
shipping is made with prepaid labels, this job does not require any 
financial investment from you. You can also combine this work with 
another one if you decide to work in the office in the future.
The convenient control panel of a corporate website will help you to 
track parcels, bonuses you are to get for a shipped package, and your 
personal information for salary and further job instructions.

The company ensures the following advantages:
1. Health benefits
2. Paid vacations and sick leaves
3. Paid flight tickets, gasoline

This is a temporary offer, as soon as we have a team of employees in 
your staff the vacancy will be closed.

Please contact our HR manager for further details: kia01915@aol[dot]com
.
Other subject lines that were spammed in the same theme are mentioned below with their corresponding reply-to email address.
Subject – China company is looking for employees – kia01915@aol[dot]com
Subject – We are hiring new employees to our office – kia01915@aol[dot]com
Subject – We are hiring new employees to our office – bree10682@aol[dot]com
Subject – Job opportunity – marquerite23894@aol[dot]com
Subject – Open vacancy – marquerite23894@aol[dot]com
The other thing to note is that all of the email addresses use AOL domains, which is a unique thing in itself.
To conclude, Kelihos has been surprising the researchers quite often and it has become necessary to keep track of different activities of the botnet. The ransomware inclusion brings interesting twists from the research as well as law enforcement. Another thing that I found while searching for NoMoreRansom was a group established by key leaders in the community to fight against the rise of ransomware. 

So is the extension of NoMoreRansom a challenge to the people fighting it? Who knows? 
FYI: Things are about to get interesting!

This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog post authored by Gary Warner, UAB / PhishMe. Read the original post at: CyberCrime & Doing Time