GootBot Malware: Eluding Capture and Intensifying Assaults

by | Nov 8, 2023

The cybersecurity world is always changing, with bad actors using new tricks to avoid detection and carry out their harmful activities. This reality is highlighted by the emergence of a new version of the well-known GootLoader malware, called GootBot. GootBot is a lightweight yet powerful malware that not only allows movement within compromised systems but also increases the scale of attacks, posing a significant risk to organizations worldwide.

One notable feature of GootBot is its use of clever search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. The attackers attract unsuspecting users with tempting themes like contracts or legal forms. These users are then directed to compromised sites that look like legitimate forums. On these sites, they are tricked into downloading a file, unknowingly starting the attack.

Inside the file, there is an obscured JavaScript file. When executed, this file fetches another JavaScript file, marking the second stage of the attack. GootBot stays on the compromised system by using a scheduled task. Through this persistence, the malware collects system information and sends it to a remote server, enabling the attacker to carry out their harmful intentions.

To establish command and control and receive further instructions, GootBot uses an obscured PowerShell script that connects to a compromised WordPress site. This custom bot, made by the GootLoader group, allows the attackers to avoid detection when using off-the-shelf tools for command and control. The bad actors have put a lot of effort into creating a unique bot that lets them operate secretly and efficiently during the attack.

One significant characteristic of GootBot is its use of a unique hard-coded command and control server for each sample. This technique makes it challenging to block malicious traffic because the malware consistently avoids detection by using a different server each time. Additionally, GootBot stays persistent by communicating with its command and control server every 60 seconds, getting PowerShell tasks for execution, and sending the results back to the server through HTTP POST requests.

The discovery of the GootBot variant reveals the changing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by bad actors, as well as their chosen tools. By introducing their own custom bot in the later stages of the attack, the GootLoader group clearly shows their intention to avoid detection and increase the efficiency of their harmful activities. This change in TTPs raises the risk of successful post-exploitation stages, including GootLoader-related ransomware affiliate activity.

GootBot goes beyond reconnaissance and can move laterally within the compromised environment. This ability greatly expands the reach and impact of the attack, allowing bad actors to quickly spread throughout the network and deploy more harmful payloads. As a result, organizations must stay vigilant and implement strong security measures to reduce the risk associated with this increasingly sophisticated malware.

The emergence of GootBot, along with its connection to the GootLoader group, emphasizes the need for continuous monitoring, advanced threat detection, and strong defensive measures within organizations. It reminds us that cyber threats are always changing, and attackers are getting better at evading traditional security measures.

As the fight against cybercrime intensifies, organizations must stay informed, invest in strong cybersecurity solutions, and educate their employees about the risks of downloading files from untrusted sources. By taking a proactive approach to security, organizations can better protect themselves against the ever-changing threat landscape and reduce the potential impact of malware variants like GootBot.