Modular downloaders aren’t new to the world of malware, but a new campaign featuring modular software launched by a major criminal group is drawing the attention of threat researchers. The attacks, so far targeting Russia and the former Soviet republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), could presage new tactics aimed at victims around the world.
Researchers at Proofpoint discovered a pair of modular downloaders this summer and noticed two unusual factors in their use. First, the loaders were conducting reconnaissance on the infected system to decide whether the full payload will be downloaded. Second, the loaders, with very small and carefully obfuscated footprints, were being launched by the Cobalt Group, a major criminal organization previously tied to activities such as ATM jackpotting and to other large criminal groups.
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