The Threat

On December 29, 2019, the network of Bapco, the national oil company of Bahrain, was affected by a new strain of the ZeroCleare Wiper [1]. The new version of the wiper has been dubbed “Dustman”. Preliminary investigations, conducted by Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), have linked the attack and the Dustman wiper to a threat actor suspected to be linked to Iran. The attack was only partially successful and Bapco did not suffer significant disruptions or downtime. It should be noted that this attack occurred prior to the death of the Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, and the attack is not believed to be a direct response to the events on January 2nd, 2020.

What we’re doing about it

  • esNETWORK rules are in place to detect the exploitation attempts related to various VPN services
  • esENDPOINT
    • Known indicators have been queried across all CB Response customers
    • CB Defense detects and prevents the Dustman Wiper
  • esLOG clients receive auto-alerts for the creation of high privilege accounts
  • MVS (formerly esRECON) has plugins for the VPN vulnerabilities listed in the original Dustman NCA report

What you should do about it

  • Ensure systems are patched and up to date
  • Ensure VPN systems are not impacted by recent critical vulnerabilities [2]
  • Avoid including service accounts as Domain Admins Groups [3]
  • Secure local admin accounts to prevent abuse [4]
  • See the National Cybersecurity Authority report for additional recommendations [1]

Additional information

In the attack against Bapco, the threat actors exploited a vulnerability in the company’s VPN service to gain initial access and establish a foothold in the company’s network. It is believed that initial access was gained months prior to the destructive attack being carried out. Once inside the network, the threat actors escalated privileges and used the service account for the victim’s antivirus product to distribute the wiper across the network. The public report states that prior to distribution of Dustman, the attacker deleted victim files from a storage server [1]. Dustman was distributed to all systems then executed using PSEXEC. This caused data destruction and blue-screens on impacted devices. VPN logs and other artifacts of the attack were then deleted in an attempt to obfuscate the attacker’s activities.

Observed Filename MD5 SHA-1 SHA-256
dustman.exe 8AFA8A59EEBF43EF223BE52E08FCDC67 E3AE32EBE8465C7DF1225A51234F13E8A44969CC F07B0C79A8C88A5760847226AF277CF34AB5508394A58820DB4DB5A8D0340FC7
elrawdsk.sys 993E9CB95301126DEBDEA7DD66B9E121 A7133C316C534D1331C801BBCD3F4C62141013A1 36A4E35ABF2217887E97041E3E0B17483AA4D2C1AEE6FEADD48EF448BF1B9E6C
assistant.sys  EAEA9CCB40C82AF8F3867CD0F4DD5E9D 7C1B25518DEE1E30B5A6EAA1EA8E4A3780C24D0C CF3A7D4285D65BF8688215407BCE1B51D7C6B22497F09021F0FCE31CBEB78986
agent.exe  F5F8160FE8468A77B6A495155C3DACEA 20D61C337653392EA472352931820DC60C37B2BC 44100C73C6E2529C591A10CD3668691D92DC0241152EC82A72C6E63DA299D3A2

References:

[1] https://www.scribd.com/document/442225568/Saudi-Arabia-CNA-report

[2] https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-010a

[3] https://adsecurity.org/?p=4115

[4] https://docs.microsoft.com/en-ca/archive/blogs/secguide/blocking-remote-use-of-local-accounts

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Articles and reports written by eSentire staff and our Threat Intelligence Research Group.

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