Nozomi Networks Researchers Track Malicious Glupteba Activity Through the Blockchain

Nozomi Networks Researchers Track Malicious Glupteba Activity Through the Blockchain

Threat actors are increasingly leveraging blockchain technology to launch cyberattacks. By taking advantage of the distributed and decentralized nature of blockchain, malicious actors can exploit its anonymity for a variety of attacks, ranging from malware propagation to ransomware distribution.

The Glupteba trojan is an example of a threat actor leveraging blockchain-based technologies to carry out their malicious activity. In this blog, Nozomi Networks Lab presents our latest findings on Glupteba and how security teams can search for malicious activity in the blockchain.

What is Glupteba?

Glupteba is a backdoor trojan that is downloaded via Pay-Per-Install networks – online ad campaigns that prompt software or application downloads – in infected installers or software cracks. Once Glupteba is active on a system, the botnet operators can deploy additional modules from the credential stealer to exploit kits compromising devices on the target network. There are several Glupteba modules aimed at exploiting vulnerabilities in various Internet of Things (IoT) appliances from vendors, such as MikroTik and Netgear.

Surprisingly, Glupteba leverages the Bitcoin blockchain to distribute its Command and Control (C2) domains to infected systems. Apart from the fact that this is an uncommon technique, this mechanism is also extremely resilient to takedowns as there is no way to erase nor censor a validated Bitcoin transaction. Using the same approach that Glupteba is using to hide data within the blockchain, researchers can hunt for malicious transactions and recover their payloads. If the said domains are not stored in plaintext, reversing the Glupteba samples enables security researchers to decrypt the payload and access the embedded domains.

Using the Blockchain to Store Data

The Bitcoin blockchain can be used to store arbitrary data. This is made possible by the OP_RETURN opcode that enables storage of up to 80 bytes of arbitrary data within the signature script. This storage mechanism has several advantages. First, it is resilient to takedowns. Once a transaction has been validated, there is no way to erase it – this is the nature of the blockchain. Using this mechanism to distribute C2 domain means that law enforcement officers, network defenders, and incident responders have no way to take down the Bitcoin address and erase the transaction. The way the Bitcoin blockchain is built on top of modern cryptography also makes this mechanism secure; without the Bitcoin address private key, one cannot send a transaction with such a data payload originating from the malicious address, hence, taking over the botnet is not possible. Additionally, threat actors can encrypt their payload from peering eyes, making the data storage scheme robust and cost effective.

This technique has also been used by the Cerber ransomware in the past. Bitcoin transactions originating from specific addresses were monitored and the first 6 characters of a destination address were used along with a .top TLD appended to> generate a domain, which would be used to query the active C2 infrastructure.

Glupteba is known to be using a similar mechanism relying on OP_RETURN instead of destination addresses to distribute its C2 domains. In case of a C2 domain being taken down, the botnet operators only need to send a new transaction from the Bitcoin address distributing the domains and voila, the malware will adjust its configuration the next time the C2 is refreshed. The latest identified Glupteba bitcoin transaction dates to the 8th of November 2022 with its embedded payload 000c0b0006171c11064d150a0b16.

The hexadecimal payload above does not seem to represent anything close to a domain name and that is because Glupteba uses, in its latest variant, a XOR encryption scheme to protect the data. Once the key is known, typically by reverse engineering a sample such as c6d4ce67dd25764f571a84caa19fa6c2b067cae6, decrypting the data becomes simple; see a sample of this decryption in Github.

The Evolution of Glupteba

Glupteba is known to use the Bitcoin blockchain to distribute its C2 servers since at least 2019. To retrieve the Bitcoin transactions, several providers are used, usually and The Glupteba function responsible for querying to retrieve the transaction data is shown in Figure 1.

Bitcoin address containing the transactions with command and control domains
Figure 1. The Bitcoin address that contains the transactions with the command-and-control domains.

The way the domains are protected within the transactions has slightly evolved over time. In 2019, Glupteba used AES-GCM to protect and embed the data in the bitcoin transactions. Each sample was shipped with a hardcoded key and initialization vector enabling the sample to decrypt the payload from the Bitcoin transaction. Figure 2 shows the decryption routine in the oldest Glupteba versions..

Glupteba code calling the AES-GCM decryption routine
Figure 2. The Glupteba code calling the AES-GCM decryption routine.

In newer versions of the malware, this scheme was switched to a simple XOR cipher, which is currently being used. All samples we found were using the same key: “cheesesauce”. Figure 3 shows this key being moved around in memory in the function responsible to decrypt the ciphertext.

XOR cipher key being loaded
Figure 3. The XOR cipher key is being loaded in the Glupteba decryption routine.

Timeline of Events  

Given all that information, we went on a blockchain harvesting tour, scanning the entire Bitcoin blockchain for hidden C2 domains. We tried to decrypt the data payload of the OP_RETURN script present in each transaction of every block using all the algorithms and keys we know to be associated with Glupteba. In addition, we downloaded over 1500 Glupteba samples from VirusTotal and looked at the wallet addresses they used to make sure we did not miss anything. But that is not all: the latest set of TLS certificates Glupteba uses also exhibits a precise pattern in the Subject Alternative Names and, thanks to certificate transparency, this can be hunted for. Finally, we also took a close look at the passive DNS records at our disposal to find potential associated domains and hosts.

This research gave us a massive series of events we decided to summarize with the timeline below, showing when actions were taken by Glupteba operators.

2022-11-22Passive DNSDomain registration limeprime[.]org
2022-11-21Passive DNSDomain registration greenphoenix[.]xyz
2022-11-08BlockchainWallet 1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK update cdneurops[.]pics
  • Wallet 1NX7zTP6C4oGj2y3DaJTrg26AGFWExvYnr update mastiakele[.]icu
  • Wallet 1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd update mastiakele[.]xyz
  • Wallet 1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK update cdneurops[.]buzz
  • Wallet 1CfevVPC8cSpFf7QKQwShrFgQYfyQaoXhc update cdneurops[.]shop
  • Wallet 14XZhcCJDguZuZF4p13tfLXJ6puudY7gqs update zaoshanghaoz[.]net
  • Wallet 1BrEshrz6gVbVuHGBgJ5GuHBvC2sdoeTAJ  update cdneurop[.]cloud
  • Wallet 1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK update cdneurop[.]cloud
  • Wallet 1AuWUMtjPo7Cc1Ji2pz7DWVvVJ5EjiUaHh update cdneurops[.]health
  • Wallet 1BqY56No1LR64AGcog4mF54UTPnjrPAPHz update mastiakele[.]cyou
  • Wallet 1CfevVPC8cSpFf7QKQwShrFgQYfyQaoXhc update mastiakele[.]cyou
  • Wallet 14XZhcCJDguZuZF4p13tfLXJ6puudY7gqs update zaoshanghaoz[.]net
  • Wallet 1NX7zTP6C4oGj2y3DaJTrg26AGFWExvYnr update mastiakele[.]icu
  • Wallet 1Mz2b2onxnAYhJTJQoGHdSBy6wu2HpufVR update mastiakele[.]ae[.]org
  • Wallet 1MuJwQKLQKt1VCBQ9u1RtepW7sDD3AwRE6 update zaoshang[.]ooo
  • Wallet 19RzEN3pqHvgRHGMjjtYCqjVTXt8bnHkK3 update cdntokiog[.]studio
  • Wallet 1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd update cdntokiog[.]studio
  • Wallet 1HSC8Yt2yjuFUSGpUfJnwLMr4HzNxV3dvP` update zaoshang[.]moscow
  • Wallet 15nWGFaodg3efVKATgsaaSPU2TxSbiMHcP update окрф[.]рф
  • Wallet 1LQ2EPBwPqdbmXwN6RodPS4xqcm8EtPcaB update zaoshang[.]ru
  • Wallet 1HzJkTn6Z5nDrgbR6dHVBDVtsRYqwDmGzN update zaoshanghao[.]su
  • 2022-10-28Certificate TransparencyLet’s encrypt certificate registration
    2022-10-28BlockchainWallet 1BL6NZSoXtMSdquRmePDUCQxFaXtLLSVWG update duniadekho[.]bar
    2022-10-27Passive DNSDomain registration cdneurops[.]pics mastiakele[.]icu mastiakele[.]xyz cdneurops[.]buzz cdneurops[.]shop zaoshanghaoz[.]net cdneurop[.]cloud cdneurops[.]health mastiakele[.]cyou mastiakele[.]ae[.]org zaoshang[.]ooo cdntokiog[.]studio zaoshang[.]moscow окрф[.]рф zaoshang[.]ru zaoshanghao[.]su duniadekho[.]bar
    2022-10-26BlockchainWallet 1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK update checkpos[.]net
    2022-10-25Passive DNSDomain registration checkpos[.]net
    2022-10-01Passive DNSDomain registration revouninstaller[.]homes
    2022-09-30BlockchainWallet 1HzJkTn6Z5nDrgbR6dHVBDVtsRYqwDmGzN update tmetres[.]com
    2022-09-28Passive DNSDomain registration tmetres[.]com
  • Wallet 1BL6NZSoXtMSdquRmePDUCQxFaXtLLSVWG update 3ebu257qh2dlauxqj7cgv3i55e4orb55mwgqf4tq7eicsa3dfhr4aaid[.]onion
  • Wallet 1HzJkTn6Z5nDrgbR6dHVBDVtsRYqwDmGzN update yeug3c6mnwocixwlotka4nwo3fjtfic65o4psmpxvrdul5q7dgjmsvad[.]onion
  • 2022-08-12Passive DNSDomain registration getyourgift[.]life
  • Wallet 1Cxy9e6KtHtBJrQwCwpKgcyp6dhncx6eNh update x4l2doee6uhhf3lqjvjodgqtxsjvwbkdqyldhwyhwkhf4y23aqq7jayd[.]onion
  • Wallet 1HSC8Yt2yjuFUSGpUfJnwLMr4HzNxV3dvP update bihgkrr546ctjdn4mwr7x4bhvwz55sftx6xir6cwlfo6rhppd2eu7syd[.]onion
  • 2022-06-09BlockchainWallet 1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd update x4l2doee6uhhf3lqjvjodgqtxsjvwbkdqyldhwyhwkhf4y23aqq7jayd.onion
    2022-06-07BlockchainWallet 1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd update x4l2doee6uhhf3lqjvjodgqtxsjvwbkdqyldhwyhwkhf4y23aqq7jayd.onion
  • Wallet 1AuWUMtjPo7Cc1Ji2pz7DWVvVJ5EjiUaHh update c43tnmrkzfmkjyd3j4v6xbyrd67q6pskzy67dwkzj36uoqwpoju2loyd.onion
  • Wallet 1CfevVPC8cSpFf7QKQwShrFgQYfyQaoXhc update 2pkktxkf3gnpcjh2bhi62arz2ieyjgxocb3jne3kc2nu2yvyxqq23nad.onion
  • Wallet 1BrEshrz6gVbVuHGBgJ5GuHBvC2sdoeTAJ update yeug3c6mnwocixwlotka4nwo3fjtfic65o4psmpxvrdul5q7dgjmsvad.onion
  • Wallet 19RzEN3pqHvgRHGMjjtYCqjVTXt8bnHkK3 update dg2sz7pxs7llf2t25fsbutlvvrjij4pmojugn75cmxnvoshmju6dzcad.onion
  • Wallet 1HSC8Yt2yjuFUSGpUfJnwLMr4HzNxV3dvP update c43tnmrkzfmkjyd3j4v6xbyrd67q6pskzy67dwkzj36uoqwpoju2loyd.onion
  • Wallet 1BqY56No1LR64AGcog4mF54UTPnjrPAPHz update 2pkktxkf3gnpcjh2bhi62arz2ieyjgxocb3jne3kc2nu2yvyxqq23nad.onion
  • Wallet 1LQ2EPBwPqdbmXwN6RodPS4xqcm8EtPcaB update dg2sz7pxs7llf2t25fsbutlvvrjij4pmojugn75cmxnvoshmju6dzcad.onion
  • Wallet 15nWGFaodg3efVKATgsaaSPU2TxSbiMHcP update papmcl4r32awafck75y5446n252qqqq4h6c4y2slaayposrtfbcebdqd.onion
  • Wallet 14XZhcCJDguZuZF4p13tfLXJ6puudY7gqs update c43tnmrkzfmkjyd3j4v6xbyrd67q6pskzy67dwkzj36uoqwpoju2loyd.onion
  • 2022-06-03Blockchain
  • Wallet 1Mz2b2onxnAYhJTJQoGHdSBy6wu2HpufVR update 2pkktxkf3gnpcjh2bhi62arz2ieyjgxocb3jne3kc2nu2yvyxqq23nad.onion
  • Wallet update 1MuJwQKLQKt1VCBQ9u1RtepW7sDD3AwRE6 dg2sz7pxs7llf2t25fsbutlvvrjij4pmojugn75cmxnvoshmju6dzcad.onion
  • Wallet update 14XZhcCJDguZuZF4p13tfLXJ6puudY7gqs papmcl4r32awafck75y5446n252qqqq4h6c4y2slaayposrtfbcebdqd.onion
  • Wallet update 1HzJkTn6Z5nDrgbR6dHVBDVtsRYqwDmGzN yeug3c6mnwocixwlotka4nwo3fjtfic65o4psmpxvrdul5q7dgjmsvad.onio
  • Wallet 1Cxy9e6KtHtBJrQwCwpKgcyp6dhncx6eNh update yeug3c6mnwocixwlotka4nwo3fjtfic65o4psmpxvrdul5q7dgjmsvad.onio
  • 2022-06-01Blockchain
  • Wallet 1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK update dg2sz7pxs7llf2t25fsbutlvvrjij4pmojugn75cmxnvoshmju6dzcad.onion
  • Wallet 1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd update maesvpovrwqfaqjw44bbeb2w62h6n7eyosbeit7rfrrdbyjymqaxfryd.onion
  • 2021-12-29BlockchainWallet 1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD97  update dafflash[.]com
    2021-12-27BlockchainDomain registration dafflash[.]com
    2021-12-25BlockchainWallet 1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD97 update filimaik[.]com
    2021-12-13BlockchainWallet 12EfzLra6LttQ8RWvBTDzJUjYE6eRxx4TY update 7owe32rodnp3vnx2ekqncoegxolkmb3m2fex5zu6i2bg7ktivhwvczqd.onion
    2021-12-12BlockchainWallet 12EfzLra6LttQ8RWvBTDzJUjYE6eRxx4TY update r5vg4h5rlwmo6oa3p3vlckuvf5na2wb2tnqbsbkivhrhlyze6czlpjad.onion
    2021-12-10Passive DNSDomain registration godespra[.]com filimaik[.]com
    2021-12-09BlockchainWallet 1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD97 update
    2021-12-08BlockchainWallet 1HjoomvzjtvZdbznoEijTNAkMjmsFba9fY update
    2021-12-07BlockchainWallet 1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD97 update
    2021-12-06Passive DNSDomain registration
    2021-11-09 BlockchainWallet 1GLjCyG3fDf7vT3SxwtEUx7Z2w2UQrR3FU update newcc[.]com
    2021-10-19BlockchainWallet 1CgPCp3E9399ZFodMnTSSvaf5TpGiym2N1 update nisdably[.]com
    2021-10-13BlockchainWallet 1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD97 update tyturu[.]com
    2021-10-11Passive DNSDomain registration tyturu[.]com
    2021-03-28Passive DNSDomain registration nisdably[.]com
    2020-05-13BlockchainWallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update maxbook[.]space
    2020-05-07BlockchainWallet 1CgPCp3E9399ZFodMnTSSvaf5TpGiym2N1 update easywbdesign[.]com
    2020-04-08BlockchainWallet 1CgPCp3E9399ZFodMnTSSvaf5TpGiym2N1 update sndvoices[.]com
    2020-04-02Passive DNSDomain registration easywbdesign[.]com sndvoices[.]com
  • Wallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update myinfoart[.]xyz
  • Wallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update gfixprice[.]xyz
  • Wallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update getfixed[.]xyz
  • 2020-03-15Passive DNSDomain registration maxbook[.]space
    2020-02-17BlockchainWallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update anotheronedom[.]com
    2020-02-17Passive DNSDomain Registration anotheronedom[.]com
    2020-02-14BlockchainWallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update sleepingcontrol[.]com
    2020-01-24BlockchainWallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update robotatten[.]com
    2020-01-23BlockchainWallet 34RqywhujsHGVPNMedvGawFufFW9wWtbXC update robotatten[.]com
    2020-01-23Passive DNSDomain registration sleepingcontrol[.]com robotatten[.]com
    2019-06-19BlockchainWallet 15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC6 update venoxcontrol[.]com
    2019-06-14Passive DNSDomain registration venoxcontrol[.]com

    The 4 Glupteba Campaigns

    We have been able to identify 15 Glupteba bitcoin addresses spawning over 4 years and what we believe to be 4 different campaigns.

    Campaign 1

    The oldest wave seems to have started in June 2019. Back then, only one single Bitcoin address was used to distribute the malicious domains. This also corroborates what Google found out in their lawsuit against two Glupteba operators.

    AddressFirst seenLast seenTransactionsNumber of samples
    15y7dskU5TqNHXRtu5wzBpXdY5mT4RZNC62019-06-17 15:512020-05-13 13:021654

    Figure 4 shows a graph of the address transactions. We can see the OP_RETURN transactions like 3Jt2U where the funds bounce back to the 15y7d address. Interestingly all the remaining $36.18 on the 15y7d address were sent to the address 3Jwj7 in February 2020. No activity has been observed at that address since then.

    Graph showing transaction to and from the address involved in the 2019 campaign
    Figure 4. The graph shows the transaction to and from the address involved in the 2019 campaign.

    Campaign 2

    The second wave seems to have started in April 2020, this time two Bitcoin addresses were used to distribute the malicious C2 domains. Interestingly we did not find any samples using the second address; it could be a testing address to ensure the Glupteba variants were behaving as expected. In addition, the domain distributed via the supposedly testing address deepsound[.]live has not been seen in any other transactions we were able to find across both addresses. It could also be that we simply are missing some samples.

    AddressFirst SeenLast seenTransactionsNumber of samples
    1CgPCp3E9399ZFodMnTSSvaf5TpGiym2N12020-04-08 18:282021-10-19 17:281187
    1bRfcRZVws98j3QQEZxrgRVd15vVF6zSU2020-04-08 14:212020-04-08 15:4920

    Here the same pattern can be observed on the main address 1CgPC, after a period of activity, the remaining funds accounting for $28.45 were transferred back to some vendor or merchant in November 2021. At the supposed test Bitcoin address, the funds were not transferred and remain to this day on the account for a balance of $76.80. Figure 5 shows the transactions to and from both addresses.

    Graph showing the transaction to and from the address involved in the 2020 campaign
    Figure 5. The graph shows the transaction to and from the addresses involved in the 2020 Glupteba campaign.

    Campaign 3

    The third campaign starts in November 2021; the number of bitcoin addresses used to deliver malicious domain doubled, from 2 in 2020 to 4 in 2021. This campaign was the shortest of all, with a lifespan of only about two months. We believe this is likely due to Google efforts to take the botnet down, when about a1 year ago Google filed a lawsuit against Glupteba two operators and several actions were taken to disrupt the botnet operations. This is also the first time TOR hidden services were used as a command-and-control server by Glupteba.

    AddressFirst seenLast seenTransactionsNumber of samples
    1CUhaTe3AiP9Tdr4B6wedoe9vNsymLiD972021-10-13 15:202021-12-29 10:151277
    12EfzLra6LttQ8RWvBTDzJUjYE6eRxx4TY2021-12-12 21:382021-12-13 21:1433
    1HjoomvzjtvZdbznoEijTNAkMjmsFba9fY2021-12-08 15:572021-12-08 17:12217
    1GLjCyG3fDf7vT3SxwtEUx7Z2w2UQrR3FU2021-11-09 12:222021-11-09 12:4920

    Glupteba operators used four wallets, with the most active one being 1CUha as shown in Figure 6. Again, there were no remaining funds left on the Bitcoin addresses. This is also the oldest address in this campaign and the one with the highest number of transactions. Interestingly, we were not able to find a single sample referring to the address 1GLjC which we believe could have been used for testing the malware, similar to 2020. The domain used newcc[.]com was also not registered at the time and could indicate it was used in a testing environment or we could be missing some samples.

    Graph showing the transaction to and from the address involved in the 2021 campaign
    Figure 6. The graph shows the transaction to and from the addresses involved in the 2021 Glupteba campaign.

    Campaign 4

    The latest and ongoing campaign started in June 2022, 6 months after the Google lawsuit, and this time the number of malicious bitcoin addresses significantly increased. We believe this is due to several factors. First, having more Bitcoin addresses makes security researcher job more complicated. Second, to show that the Google lawsuit did not have a major effect on their Glupteba operations. For this campaign we were not able to find any samples for 3 of the addresses we gathered. We believe these addresses are not made for testing as they distribute some domains found in other Bitcoin addresses for which we found samples. In addition, there was a tenfold increase in TOR hidden service being used as C2 servers since the 2021 campaign.

    AddressFirst seenLast seenTransactionsNumber of samples
    1KfLXEveeDEi58wvuBBxuywUA1V66F5QXK2022-06-01 14:162022-11-08 11:54111197
    1LQ2EPBwPqdbmXwN6RodPS4xqcm8EtPcaB 2022-06-03 13:592022-10-29 11:2946
    1MuJwQKLQKt1VCBQ9u1RtepW7sDD3AwRE62022-06-03 15:022022-10-29 11:3746
    1Mz2b2onxnAYhJTJQoGHdSBy6wu2HpufVR2022-06-03 14:332022-10-29 11:4053
    1NX7zTP6C4oGj2y3DaJTrg26AGFWExvYnr2022-06-06 14:102022-10-29 12:0766
    14XZhcCJDguZuZF4p13tfLXJ6puudY7gqs2022-06-03 14:562022-10-29 12:03812
    15nWGFaodg3efVKATgsaaSPU2TxSbiMHcP2022-06-03 14:342022-10-29 11:30648
    19RzEN3pqHvgRHGMjjtYCqjVTXt8bnHkK32022-06-06 13:512022-10-29 11:3746
    1AuWUMtjPo7Cc1Ji2pz7DWVvVJ5EjiUaHh2022-06-06 14:042022-10-29 11:4343
    1BL6NZSoXtMSdquRmePDUCQxFaXtLLSVWG2022-06-07 08:512022-10-28 10:5143
    1BqY56No1LR64AGcog4mF54UTPnjrPAPHz2022-06-04 07:592022-10-29 11:4143
    1BrEshrz6gVbVuHGBgJ5GuHBvC2sdoeTAJ2022-06-04 02:352022-10-29 11:4243
    1CfevVPC8cSpFf7QKQwShrFgQYfyQaoXhc2022-06-06 14:052022-10-29 12:1063
    1HzJkTn6Z5nDrgbR6dHVBDVtsRYqwDmGzN 2022-06-03 13:552022-10-29 11:2883
    1HSC8Yt2yjuFUSGpUfJnwLMr4HzNxV3dvP2022-06-06 13:582022-10-29 11:3360
    1Cxy9e6KtHtBJrQwCwpKgcyp6dhncx6eNh2022-06-03 14:052022-07-04 16:0740
    1CzetoTU29WbhNy1UozrQpxuFuCVxffbTd 2022-05-31 15:192022-10-29 12:0480

    The transactions graphs shown in Figure 7 involving the addresses used in the 2022 campaign show the upscaling of the operations since 2019. Lastly, we traced back these transactions even further, and we believe that at least five different merchants and exchanges were used to fund the Glupteba addresses since 2019.

    Graph showing the transaction to and from the address involved in the 2022 campaign
    Figure 7. The graph shows the transaction to and from the addresses involved in the 2022 campaign.


    In this blog, we have shown how Glupteba can be hunted by following blockchain transaction, TLS certificate registrations, and by reverse engineering samples. We also had a look at how the blockchain can be used to store arbitrary data and how threat actors leverage this in the wild. In addition, we tried to shed some light on the Glupteba campaigns over the years. In terms of resilience, we have seen how the actions Google took to disrupt the Glupteba botnet had an impact on the 2021 campaign, which we believe ended abruptly. Even with Google winning a favorable ruling recently, we hoped it would have inflicted a severe blow to Glupteba operations, but almost a year later we can say it most likely did not. Indeed, it took Glupteba about six months to build a new campaign from scratch and distribute it in the wild, and this time on a much larger scale.

    For defenders and responders, we strongly suggest blocking blockchain-related domains like but also Glupteba known C2 domains in your environment. We also recommend monitoring DNS logs and keeping the antivirus software up to date to help prevent a potential Glupteba infection.

    cdneurops[.]picsC2 domain 2022
    mastiakele[.]icuC2 domain 2022
    mastiakele[.]xyzC2 domain 2022
    cdneurops[.]buzzC2 domain 2022
    cdneurops[.]shopC2 domain 2022
    zaoshanghaoz[.]netC2 domain 2022
    cdneurop[.]cloudC2 domain 2022
    cdneurops[.]healthC2 domain 2022
    mastiakele[.]cyouC2 domain 2022
    zaoshanghaoz[.]netC2 domain 2022
    mastiakele[.]ae[.]orgC2 domain 2022
    zaoshang[.]oooC2 domain 2022
    cdntokiog[.]studioC2 domain 2022
    zaoshang[.]moscowC2 domain 2022
    zaoshang[.]ruC2 domain 2022
    zaoshanghao[.]suC2 domain 2022
    duniadekho[.]barC2 domain 2022
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