WannaCry’s 15 minutes of fame has allowed an older piece of malware, based on the same EternalBlue exploit, to fly under the radar. The newly reported malware, dubbed Adylkuzz, carries a cryptocurrency miner that steals endpoint computing power to make virtual – but nonetheless real – money for its author.
The large-scale attack, said to have easily infected more endpoints that WannaCry, predates the widely publicized ransomware threat by more than a week. Bitdefender confirmed the findings of security firm Proofpoint today, showing that Adylkuzz:
- uses the same EternalBlue exploit as WannaCry (alongside the NSA backdoor called DoublePulsar)
- packs a Trojan horse containing a Monero (electronic currency similar to Bitcoin) mining tool
- blocks Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) on TCP port 445 ensuring persistency on the victim’s computer
Here’s the irony, though: because it exploits the same vulnerability as the WannaCry ransomware, and because it blocks the vulnerable 445 port, Adylkuzz is actually helping reduce the number of WannaCry infections out there.
The cryptocurrency mining tool that makes up Adylkuzz’s payload has one mission only: to use your computer’s resources to generate cybercash for the attackers.
“While an individual laptop may generate only a few dollars per week, collectively the network of compromised computers appears to be generating five-figure payouts daily,” Proofpoint’s Robert Holmes told The Mirror.
On May 15, when the company first identified the threat, more than $40,000 had been mined and deposited at different Monero addresses (e-wallets).
The emergence of Adylkuzz strengthens Bitdefender’s warning that various groups of attackers will continue to exploit the MS17-010 vulnerability until all Windows users have installed the necessary patches.
How to tell if you’re infected
Because of its stealthy nature, Adylkuzz is hard to detect without a dedicated anti-malware solution. The only thing you’ll (probably) notice is a sudden slowdown in your PC’s performance. This is because mining virtual money is CPU-intensive.
However, few users will correlate such behavior with actual malware and, without an AV program installed, there is no way to find the Trojan and eradicate it.
How to disinfect your computer
1. Like with the WannaCry malware, your first order of business is to patch Windows. Simply allow your Windows operating system to download the latest updates, or you can manually grab the patch from the Microsoft Update Catalog for your respective Windows version.
2. Consider installing a reputable anti-malware solution. This will not only prevent such attacks in the future, but it will also remove the (now useless) Adylkuzz infection from your system. Bitdefender customers are pro-actively protected against such attacks through its Active Threat Control technology that leverages machine learning.