TA18-149A: HIDDEN COBRA – Joanap Backdoor Trojan and Brambul Server Message Block Worm

This post was originally published on this site

Original release date: May 29, 2018 | Last revised: May 31, 2018

Systems Affected

Network systems


This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Working with U.S. government partners, DHS and FBI identified Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and other indicators of compromise (IOCs) associated with two families of malware used by the North Korean government:

  • a remote access tool (RAT), commonly known as Joanap; and
  • a Server Message Block (SMB) worm, commonly known as Brambul.

The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as HIDDEN COBRA. For more information on HIDDEN COBRA activity, visit https://www.us-cert.gov/hiddencobra.

FBI has high confidence that HIDDEN COBRA actors are using the IP addresses—listed in this report’s IOC files—to maintain a presence on victims’ networks and enable network exploitation. DHS and FBI are distributing these IP addresses and other IOCs to enable network defense and reduce exposure to any North Korean government malicious cyber activity.

This alert also includes suggested response actions to the IOCs provided, recommended mitigation techniques, and information on how to report incidents. If users or administrators detect activity associated with these malware families, they should immediately flag it, report it to the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) or the FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch), and give it the highest priority for enhanced mitigation.

See the following links for a downloadable copy of IOCs:

NCCIC conducted analysis on four malware samples and produced a Malware Analysis Report (MAR). MAR-10135536.3 – RAT/Worm examines the tactics, techniques, and procedures observed in the malware. Visit MAR-10135536.3 – HIDDEN COBRA RAT/Worm for the report and associated IOCs.


According to reporting of trusted third parties, HIDDEN COBRA actors have likely been using both Joanap and Brambul malware since at least 2009 to target multiple victims globally and in the United States—including the media, aerospace, financial, and critical infrastructure sectors. Users and administrators should review the information related to Joanap and Brambul from the Operation Blockbuster Destructive Malware Report [1] in conjunction with the IP addresses listed in the .csv and .stix files provided within this alert. Like many of the families of malware used by HIDDEN COBRA actors, Joanap, Brambul, and other previously reported custom malware tools, may be found on compromised network nodes. Each malware tool has different purposes and functionalities.

Joanap malware is a fully functional RAT that is able to receive multiple commands, which can be issued by HIDDEN COBRA actors remotely from a command and control server. Joanap typically infects a system as a file dropped by other HIDDEN COBRA malware, which users unknowingly downloaded either when they visit sites compromised by HIDDEN COBRA actors, or when they open malicious email attachments.

During analysis of the infrastructure used by Joanap malware, the U.S. Government identified 87 compromised network nodes. The countries in which the infected IP addresses are registered are as follows:

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Jordan
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Tunisia

Malware often infects servers and systems without the knowledge of system users and owners. If the malware can establish persistence, it could move laterally through a victim’s network and any connected networks to infect nodes beyond those identified in this alert.

Brambul malware is a brute-force authentication worm that spreads through SMB shares. SMBs enable shared access to files between users on a network. Brambul malware typically spreads by using a list of hard-coded login credentials to launch a brute-force password attack against an SMB protocol for access to a victim’s networks.

Technical Details


Joanap is a two-stage malware used to establish peer-to-peer communications and to manage botnets designed to enable other operations. Joanap malware provides HIDDEN COBRA actors with the ability to exfiltrate data, drop and run secondary payloads, and initialize proxy communications on a compromised Windows device. Other notable functions include

  • file management,
  • process management,
  • creation and deletion of directories, and
  • node management.

Analysis indicates the malware encodes data using Rivest Cipher 4 encryption to protect its communication with HIDDEN COBRA actors. Once installed, the malware creates a log entry within the Windows System Directory in a file named mssscardprv.ax. HIDDEN COBRA actors use this file to capture and store victims’ information such as the host IP address, host name, and the current system time.


Brambul malware is a malicious Windows 32-bit SMB worm that functions as a service dynamic link library file or a portable executable file often dropped and installed onto victims’ networks by dropper malware. When executed, the malware attempts to establish contact with victim systems and IP addresses on victims’ local subnets. If successful, the application attempts to gain unauthorized access via the SMB protocol (ports 139 and 445) by launching brute-force password attacks using a list of embedded passwords. Additionally, the malware generates random IP addresses for further attacks.

Analysts suspect the malware targets insecure or unsecured user accounts and spreads through poorly secured network shares. Once the malware establishes unauthorized access on the victim’s systems, it communicates information about victim’s systems to HIDDEN COBRA actors using malicious email addresses. This information includes the IP address and host name—as well as the username and password—of each victim’s system. HIDDEN COBRA actors can use this information to remotely access a compromised system via the SMB protocol.

Analysis of a newer variant of Brambul malware identified the following built-in functions for remote operations:

  • harvesting system information,
  • accepting command-line arguments,
  • generating and executing a suicide script,
  • propagating across the network using SMB,
  • brute forcing SMB login credentials, and
  • generating Simple Mail Transport Protocol email messages containing target host system information.

Detection and Response

This alert’s IOC files provide HIDDEN COBRA IOCs related to Joanap and Brambul. DHS and FBI recommend that network administrators review the information provided, identify whether any of the provided IP addresses fall within their organizations’ allocated IP address space, and—if found—take necessary measures to remove the malware.

When reviewing network perimeter logs for the IP addresses, organizations may find instances of these IP addresses attempting to connect to their systems. Upon reviewing the traffic from these IP addresses, system owners may find some traffic relates to malicious activity and some traffic relates to legitimate activity.


A successful network intrusion can have severe impacts, particularly if the compromise becomes public. Possible impacts include

  • temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,
  • disruption to regular operations,
  • financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and
  • potential harm to an organization’s reputation.


Mitigation Strategies

DHS recommends that users and administrators use the following best practices as preventive measures to protect their computer networks:

  • Keep operating systems and software up-to-date with the latest patches. Most attacks target vulnerable applications and operating systems. Patching with the latest updates greatly reduces the number of exploitable entry points available to an attacker.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus software, and scan all software downloaded from the internet before executing.
  • Restrict users’ abilities (permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications, and apply the principle of least privilege to all systems and services. Restricting these privileges may prevent malware from running or limit its capability to spread through the network.
  • Scan for and remove suspicious email attachments. If a user opens a malicious attachment and enables macros, embedded code will execute the malware on the machine. Enterprises and organizations should consider blocking email messages from suspicious sources that contain attachments. For information on safely handling email attachments, see Using Caution with Email Attachments. Follow safe practices when browsing the web. See Good Security Habits and Safeguarding Your Data for additional details.
  • Disable Microsoft’s File and Printer Sharing service, if not required by the user’s organization. If this service is required, use strong passwords or Active Directory authentication. See Choosing and Protecting Passwords for more information on creating strong passwords.
  • Enable a personal firewall on organization workstations and configure it to deny unsolicited connection requests.

Response to Unauthorized Network Access

Contact DHS or your local FBI office immediately. To report an intrusion and request resources for incident response or technical assistance, contact DHS NCCIC (NCCICCustomerService@hq.dhs.gov or 888-282-0870), FBI through a local field office, or FBI’s Cyber Division (CyWatch@fbi.gov or 855-292-3937).


Revision History

  • May 29, 2018: Initial version
  • May 31, 2018: Uploaded updated STIX and CSV files

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About Dynamic Drop-Down List “Name” and “Value”

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I have two question about that.


First question ; I created two dynamic dropdown custom property called via external source ( With vRealize ORchestrator );


My vRO action code is ;



return [“Production,”Development”];




But, I want to write “Name” and “Values” different like picture below . Is that possible ?


return [{“name” : “Production”, “value” : “PROD”}] –> this is not working…


My second question is ;


When I click the first dropdown, second drowdown values are coming but i want to first values set as default. Because i’ll hide second dropdown and values should be set as default without user selection.



TA18-145A: Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide

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Original release date: May 25, 2018 | Last revised: June 07, 2018

Systems Affected

  • Small office/home office (SOHO) routers
  • Networked devices
  • Network-attached storage (NAS) devices


Cybersecurity researchers have identified that foreign cyber actors have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide [1] [2] [3]. The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office/home office (SOHO) routers. VPNFilter malware uses modular functionality to collect intelligence, exploit local area network (LAN) devices, and block actor-configurable network traffic. Specific characteristics of VPNFilter have only been observed in the BlackEnergy malware, specifically BlackEnergy versions 2 and 3.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recommend that owners of SOHO routers power cycle (reboot) SOHO routers and networked devices to temporarily disrupt the malware.

DHS and FBI encourage SOHO router owners to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local FBI field office or the FBI’s 24/7 Cyber Watch (CyWatch). Field office contacts can be identified at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field. CyWatch can be contacted by phone at 855-292-3937 or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. Each submitted report should include as much informaiton as possible, specifically the date, time, location, type of activity, number of people, the type of equipment used for the activity, the name of the submitting company or organization, and a designated point of contact.


The size and scope of this infrastructure impacted by VPNFilter malware is significant. The persistent VPNFilter malware linked to this infrastructure targets a variety of SOHO routers and network-attached storage devices. The initial exploit vector for this malware is currently unknown.

The malware uses a modular functionality on SOHO routers to collect intelligence, exploit LAN devices, and block actor-configurable network traffic. The malware can render a device inoperable, and has destructive functionality across routers, network-attached storage devices, and central processing unit (CPU) architectures running embedded Linux. The command and control mechanism implemented by the malware uses a combination of secure sockets layer (SSL) with client-side certificates for authentication and TOR protocols, complicating network traffic detection and analysis.


Negative consequences of VPNFilter malware infection include:

  • temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information,
  • disruption to regular operations,
  • financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and
  • potential harm to an organization’s reputation.


DHS and FBI recommend that all SOHO router owners power cycle (reboot) their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware.

Network device management interfaces—such as Telnet, SSH, Winbox, and HTTP—should be turned off for wide-area network (WAN) interfaces, and, when enabled, secured with strong passwords and encryption. Network devices should be upgraded to the latest available versions of firmware, which often contain patches for vulnerabilities.

Rebooting affected devices will cause non-persistent portions of the malware to be removed from the system. Network defenders should ensure that first-stage malware is removed from the devices, and appropriate network-level blocking is in place prior to rebooting affected devices. This will ensure that second stage malware is not downloaded again after reboot.

While the paths at each stage of the malware can vary across device platforms, processes running with the name “vpnfilter” are almost certainly instances of the second stage malware. Terminating these processes and removing associated processes and persistent files that execute the second stage malware would likely remove this malware from targeted devices.


Revision History

  • May 25, 2018: Initial Version
  • June 7, 2018: Added link to June 6, 2018 Cisco Talos blog update on VPNFilter

This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

Esxi upgrade from 5.5 to 6.0U3 HPE custom offline bundle VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-Update3-6921384-HPE-600. requires VSAN?

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Hello all,


I am trying to upgrade one of my HPDL 380 G7 servers from Esxi Ver 5.5 to Esxi ver 6.0U3 using the esxcli and the VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-Update3-6921384-HPE-600.


I SSH into box and run


#esxcli software vib update -d “/vmfs/volumes/mydatastore/VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-Update3-6921384-HPE-600.”


I receive the following about VSAN being required??


VIB VMware_bootbank_esx-base_6.0.0-3.79.6921384 requires vsan >= 6.0.0-3.79, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.

VIB VMware_bootbank_esx-base_6.0.0-3.79.6921384 requires vsan << 6.0.0-3.80, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.

Please refer to the log file for more details.


Can anyone provide any insight on how I can resolve this error and get my Dl380 G7 server to upgrade to esxi 6.0U3?


Much appreciated

TA18-141A: Side-Channel Vulnerability Variants 3a and 4

This post was originally published on this site

Original release date: May 21, 2018 | Last revised: May 22, 2018

Systems Affected

CPU hardware implementations


On May 21, 2018, new variants of the side-channel central processing unit (CPU) hardware vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown were publicly disclosed. These variants—known as 3A and 4—can allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information on affected systems.


Common CPU hardware implementations are vulnerable to the side-channel attacks known as Spectre and Meltdown. Meltdown is a bug that “melts” the security boundaries normally enforced by the hardware, affecting desktops, laptops, and cloud computers. Spectre is a flaw that an attacker can exploit to force a CPU to reveal its data.

Variant 3a is a vulnerability that may allow an attacker with local access to speculatively read system parameters via side-channel analysis and obtain sensitive information.

Variant 4 is a vulnerability that exploits “speculative bypass.” When exploited, Variant 4 could allow an attacker to read older memory values in a CPU’s stack or other memory locations. While implementation is complex, this side-channel vulnerability could allow less privileged code to

  • Read arbitrary privileged data; and
  • Run older commands speculatively, resulting in cache allocations that could be used to exfiltrate data by standard side-channel methods.

Corresponding CVEs for Side-Channel Variants 1, 2, 3, 3a, and 4 are found below:

  • Variant 1: Bounds Check Bypass – CVE-2017-5753
  • Variant 2: Branch Target Injection – CVE-2017-5715
  • Variant 3: Rogue Data Cache Load – CVE-2017-5754
  • Variant 3a: Rogue System Register Read – CVE-2018-3640  
  • Variant 4: Speculative Store Bypass – CVE-2018-3639


Side-Channel Vulnerability Variants 3a and 4 may allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information on affected systems.



NCCIC recommends users and administrators

  • Refer to their hardware and software vendors for patches or microcode,
  • Use a test environment to verify each patch before implementing, and
  • Ensure that performance is monitored for critical applications and services.
    • Consult with vendors and service providers to mitigate any degradation effects, if possible.
    • Consult with Cloud Service Providers to mitigate and resolve any impacts resulting from host operating system patching and mandatory rebooting, if applicable.

The following table contains links to advisories and patches published in response to the vulnerabilities. This table will be updated as information becomes available.

Link to Vendor Information Date Added
AMD May 21, 2018
ARM May 21, 2018
Intel May 22, 2018
Microsoft May 21, 2018
Redhat May 21, 2018


Revision History

  • May 21, 2018: Initial version
  • May 22, 2018: Added information and link to Intel in table

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vRA 7.4 – Custom Forms Data Grid

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I am playing around with the Data Grid in the New Custom forms Designer – more precisely with the “disks” Grid. What I found so far:


  • Adding the Grid to the Forms I got this Error:


Schema fields [[is_clone, initial_location, volumeId, id, label, custom_properties, userCreated, storage_reservation_policy, capacity]] should match the default value fields [[is_clone, initial_location, volumeId, id, label, userCreated, storage_reservation_policy, capacity]].


Cause: there is no “custom_properties” Field in the Grid Layout


Solution: Look at the “Default” Value and remove the “custom_properties,” from the Header and the “,” bevor the capacity – in my case before the “80”:



true,,0,1525072814859,Hard disk 1,,false,,80



true,,0,1525072814859,Hard disk 1,,false,80


  • Using the “disks” Grid “breaks” any approval Policies based on Storage Size


Cause: If you add more disks to the Grid the Value of “Storage (GB)” will not be incremented


Solution: Well… its more a workaround since I have not found a way to pass the Values of a Data Grid to an vRO Action. I created a vRO Action which fills the “disks” Grid based on Values in the Custom Form (the size of the template base disks are Hardcoded):


  • If you use an external vRO Action for the Grid Values the Return type of the Action must be “Array/Properties”. In my Case the Action was not found if I use this return Type.


Cause: Bug?


Workaround: I changed the Return Type to “Array/String” and the Action was found in vRA. After I changed the Values Binding in the Custom Form, Saved the Blueprint and corrected the Return Type of the Action to Array/Properties.

Slow looping through vCenter objects since upgrade from vRO 7.2 to 7.4

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Since I upgraded our vRO standalone installation from vRO 7.2 to 7.4 we have performance issues while executing code which looping though a large number of vCenter objects (like vm oder vmFolder objects).


I`m using following code:


var ret = VcPlugin.getAllVirtualMachines();

var time = new Date();

var start = time.getTime();

var i = 0;

var allVmNames = [];

for each(var vm in ret) {


      if ((++i % 1000) == 0){

           System.log (“inserts: ” + i);



var time = new Date();

var end = time.getTime();


               System.log (“Start:     ” + start);

               System.log (“End:      ” + end);

System.log (“Difference: ” + (end – start));





Result vRO 7.2:

2018-05-04 07:18:54.980] [I] Ergebnis: 5557

[2018-05-04 07:19:35.745] [I] inserts: 1000

[2018-05-04 07:20:37.296] [I] inserts: 2000

[2018-05-04 07:21:36.996] [I] inserts: 3000

[2018-05-04 07:22:36.400] [I] inserts: 4000

[2018-05-04 07:23:37.950] [I] inserts: 5000

[2018-05-04 07:24:11.751] [I] Start:     1525411134982

[2018-05-04 07:24:11.757] [I] Ende:      1525411451749

[2018-05-04 07:24:11.760] [I] Differenz: 316767


Result vRO 7.4:

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.604] [I] Ergebnis: 5557

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.644] [I] inserts: 1000

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.682] [I] inserts: 2000

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.705] [I] inserts: 3000

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.729] [I] inserts: 4000

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.747] [I] inserts: 5000

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.758] [I] Start:     1525411093614

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.760] [I] Ende:      1525411093756

[2018-05-04 07:18:13.762] [I] Differenz: 142


As you can see the execution time is in vRO 7.4 is much longer than in 7.2.


Does anyone see the same behavier after the updrage?

ESXi 6.7 – OVF Export Fails on VMDK export

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I just installed VMware ESXi on a Dell R620 to test with. I have an opensuse 42.3 Linux guest VM that is powered off. When I go to export as OVF I can fetch the .ovf file, but it fails to fetch the associated VMDK. In Google Chrome I get “Failed – Network Error.” When I use Firefox it fetches about 80-90MB of the VMDK and then stops. There is no error shown. On the ESXi host, it shows the request for the export but does not log any actual error.


I tried downloading the VMDK via the datastore browser but that didn’t fetch the actual vmdk.

VMWare Esxi 6 Unable to Find Controller Adaptec 5805

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Hi All,


I have a PC installed VMWare 6.0.0 build 2494585

Adaptec ASR-5805 512 MB with latest firmware No BBU.


Below are VIB that I have installed to the machine.


esxcli software vib list | grep aacraid

scsi-aacraid           Adaptec_Inc  VMwareCertified     2018-05-01


esxcli software vib list | grep arcconf

arcconf                        1.00-1                                Adaptec      unknown             2018-04-30


I run ARCCONF on a guest OS Windows 2008 R2 x64.

Installed the ARCCONF from the software download for 5805.


C:Program Files (x86)AdaptecRemoteArcconf>arcconf setvmcredential 5989 root password


Command completed successfully.


C:Program Files (x86)AdaptecRemoteArcconf>arcconf getstatus 1

Controllers found: 0

Invalid controller number.


C:Program Files (x86)AdaptecRemoteArcconf>


Why it couldn’t find the controller? Is the ARCCONF not compatible on Esxi 6?

Do I have to install CLI and CIM from Adaptec 6805 msm_vmware_v1_08_21375 ?


Thank you.