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Starting in early August 2022 and continuing through the month, eSentire identified a significant increase in Socgholish (aka. FakeUpdates) malware incidents. Socgholish is a loader type malware that is capable of performing reconnaissance activity and deploying secondary payloads including Cobalt Strike. The operators of Socgholish function as initial access brokers; other threat actors can leverage this service to gain entry into victim organizations.
Socgholish is a high priority threat as the malware has been observed leading to the deployment of various types of ransomware. The eSentire Threat Intelligence team assesses with high confidence that there is an ongoing Socgholish malware campaign, and the activity will continue in the immediate future.
As Socgholish has a history of being used for initial access into victim organizations for other threat actors, prevention and the rapid identification and remediation of the threat is critical. In recently observed incidents, the malware is delivered via drive-by social engineering attacks, where compromised websites redirect end-users to fake software update pages. Fake update pages are generally themed as web browser updates; the attacker-controlled page checks the user’s browser and displays a fake update that corresponds with the specific browser (Figure 1). The malware is delivered as a .zip file containing a script file; user execution of the malicious file is required for successful malware deployment.
Socgholish has also been identified being deployed as a secondary payload for other malware. According to a report from Microsoft, the Raspberry Robin worm has been observed deploying Socgholish in recent attacks.
Incidents involving Socgholish may progress rapidly. eSentire has observed Socgholish leading to the deployment of the Cobalt Strike red team tool within 10 minutes of the initial compromise occurring (Figure 2). Cobalt Strike allows threat actors to prepare for ransomware deployment by escalating privileges and moving laterally in the victim environment. Recent ransomware payloads, delivered through Socgholish, include LockBit and WastedLocker.
Socgholish Reconnaissance Commands:
|Indicators of Compromise||Note|