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eSentire Researchers Unmask the Top Malware Supplier to Russia’s Most Notorious Financial Crime Families: Fin6 and Cobalt Group

Identifying information has been shared with law enforcement, revealing the operator of the Golden Chickens malware, the weapon of choice for FIN6 and Cobalt Group

August 11, 2022 | 3 MINS READ

Waterloo, ON, and Las Vegas, NV, August 11, 2022eSentire, the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), released a report today, unmasking the threat actor behind the Golden Chickens malware, the weapon of choice for Russia’s most infamous financial cybercrime families— FIN6 and Cobalt Group. Joe Stewart and Keegan Keplinger, security researchers with eSentire‘s Threat Response Unit (TRU), authored the research. The report, unveiled today at Black Hat USA and titled “Unmasking VENOM SPIDER—the Hacker Behind the Cyber Weapon of Choice for Two of Russia’s Most Notorious Internet Crime Gangs,” reveals how eSentire identified the Golden Chickens malware operator.

For more than two months, Stewart and Keplinger have been meticulously tracking the source of the very exclusive and sophisticated Golden Chickens/more eggs malware. The threat actor goes by the username “badbullzvenom” and has been committing online crimes since at least 2004. Yet, despite going to great lengths to hide his identity, including using at least eight different online usernames/aliases, eSentire has cracked the mystery.

TRU has discovered the real name behind the badbullzvenom alias, along with his birthdate, personal pictures from social media accounts, address, details of online crimes, and names of family members and friends. All identifying information has been shared with both Canadian and United States law enforcement.

“eSentire’s Threat Response Unit has worked diligently to uncover and identify this threat actor to authorities but our work does not stop here. We will continue to track the Golden Chickens malware and any code updates being made to the software,” says Rob McLeod, VP Threat Response Unit, eSentire. “Because of our ongoing research, we can garner more intelligence about the malware and the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) of the FIN6 and Cobalt Group operations. This knowledge is invaluable for eSentire and the businesses under our protection, as we continue to develop advanced detections and threat response models to detect, disrupt and contain this stealthy malware.”

eSentire will be showcasing this research and providing service demonstrations on the Black Hat USA show floor at booth #2823. Book a meeting onsite with an eSentire Security Specialist here: https://bit.ly/3oRwuOT.

Additionally, eSentire’s Ryan Westman, Senior Manager, Threat Intelligence, will be speaking at the DEF CON conference, immediately following Black Hat, in a session titled “History of Russian Misinformation (2007 to present).” Westman will discuss how Russian disinformation has always contained an element of cyberattacks, yet the West has been slow to understand that reality. “In light of the most recent invasion of the Ukraine, we are becoming more aware of the nexus between information operations and cyber operations conducted by Russia since 2007,” said Westman. Westman’s session is scheduled for Friday, August 12 at 4pm PDT at Misinformation (Misinfo) Village at Caesars Forum.

The full “Unmasking the VENOM Spider” report including Stewart and Keplinger’s robust investigation details can be found here.

About eSentire

eSentire, Inc. is the Authority in Managed Detection and Response, protecting the critical data and applications of 1500+ organizations in 80+ countries, representing 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats. Founded in 2001, the company’s mission is to hunt, investigate and stop cyber threats before they become business disrupting events. Combining cutting-edge machine learning XDR technology, 24/7 Threat Hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire mitigates business risk, and enables security at scale. The Team eSentire difference means enterprises are protected by the best in the business with a named Cyber Risk Advisor, 24/7 access to SOC Cyber Analysts, Elite Threat Hunters, and industry-leading threat intelligence research from eSentire’s Threat Response Unit (TRU). eSentire provides Managed Risk, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services. For more information, visit http://www.esentire.com and follow https://twitter.com/eSentire.


Elizabeth W. Clarke,
[email protected]