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THE THREAT eSentire is aware of widespread exploitation attempts targeting the recently disclosed ownCloud vulnerability CVE-2023-49103. CVE-2023-49103 (CVSS: 10) is tracked as a disclosure of… READ NOW
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Waterloo, ON and GITEX GLOBAL 2023, Dubai, UAE – October 18, 2023 – eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), today announced that Inspira Enterprise Inc, (Inspira), a… READ NOW
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For the past three months, eSentire’s security research team, the Threat Response Unit (TRU), has not observed any cyberattacks involving the popular information stealing malware, SolarMarker. This week, however, TRU saw SolarMarker return to the hacking scene with a new twist in its tactics. The SolarMarker threat actors are now leveraging fake Chrome browser updates as part of watering hole attacks (Figure 1). Previously, the SolarMarker hackers used Search Engine Optimization (SEO) poisoning, or Spamdexing, as their method for luring business professionals to their malware-laden business documents. The victims searched online for free templates of popular business documents and business forms. However, unbeknownst to them, when they would go to download the documents, they were laden with the SolarMarker malware.
As previously mentioned, TRU is seeing the SolarMarker threat actors leveraging fake chrome browser updates as part of watering hole attacks. Watering hole attacks occur when hackers look for and successfully inject online websites with malware. The hackers will choose websites that are known to attract the type of victims they are looking to target. In the attack that TRU shut down this week, TRU assesses that the SolarMarker hackers were targeting business professionals.
How do hackers compromise business websites to stage watering hole attacks? Unfortunately, many websites are built with free content management systems (CMS), which can contain vulnerabilities, making them relatively easy to compromise. Threat actors merely need to use ‘Google Dorking’ techniques and conduct source code searches, and by leveraging those techniques, threat actors can identify vulnerable websites to target.
In the case of this attack, the SolarMarker hackers targeted a vulnerable business website built using the Content Management Systems, WordPress. Unlike previous SolarMarker campaigns, the victim wasn’t looking for business document templates or forms. The victim was an employee of a tax consulting organization and searched for a medical equipment manufacturer by name on Google. When the employee visited the medical equipment manufacturer’s WordPress website, they were prompted to download a fake Chrome update. This tricked the employee into downloading and executing SolarMarker, which was disguised as a Chrome update.
Figure 1: Fake Chrome Update overlay presented by the new SolarMarker attack campaign
Figure 2: SolarMarker incidents detected and shut down by eSentire in 2022
Malware analysis by TRU concludes that the technicalities of the attack methods are completely different between SolarMarker and SocGholish. Given that only one incident of this nature has been observed, it's possible that the threat actors behind this incident are testing the new method. A single incident, after a long hiatus, could also mark the beginning of a new SolarMarker attack campaign.
The fake browser update overlay design is based on what browser the victim is utilizing while visiting the infected website. Besides Chrome, the user might also receive the fake Firefox or Edge update PHP page, which is hosted on hxxp://shortsaledamagereports[.]com. The page contains another embedded link containing the payload (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Embedded Payload from Fake Chrome Update overlay in SolarMarker incident
Drive-by download malware like SocGholish, SolarMarker and GootLoader infect employees’ endpoints while using browsers. To reduce the pervasiveness and impact of drive-by incidents:
If you’re not currently engaged with a Managed Detection and Response provider, we highly recommend you partner with us for security services to disrupt threats before they impact your business. Want to learn more about how we protect organizations globally? Connect with an eSentire Security Specialist.
eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.