Russian Hackers Heavily Using Malicious Traffic Direction System to Distribute Malware

Potential connections between a subscription-based crimeware-as-a-service (Caas) solution and a cracked copy of Cobalt Strike have been established in what the researchers suspect is being offered as a tool for its customers to stage post-exploitation activities.

Prometheus, as the service is called, first came to light in August 2021 when cybersecurity company Group-IB disclosed details of malicious software distribution campaigns undertaken by cybercriminal groups to distribute Campo Loader, Hancitor, IcedID, QBot, Buer Loader, and SocGholish in Belgium and the U.S.

Costing $250 a month, it’s marketed on Russian underground forums as a traffic direction system (TDS) to enable phishing redirection on a mass scale to rogue landing pages that are designed to deploy malware payloads on the targeted systems.

“Prometheus can be considered a full-bodied service/platform that allows threat groups to purvey their malware or phishing operations with ease,” BlackBerry Research and Intelligence Team said in a report shared with The Hacker News. “The main components of Prometheus include a web of malicious infrastructure, malicious email distribution, illicit file-hosting through legitimate services, traffic redirection and the ability to deliver malicious files.”

Typically, the redirection is funneled from one of two main sources, namely with the help of malicious ads (aka malvertising) on legitimate websites, or via websites that have been tampered to insert malicious code.

In the case of Prometheus, the attack chain starts with a spam email containing a HTML file or a Google Docs page that, upon interaction, redirects the victim to a compromised website hosting a PHP backdoor that fingerprints the machine to determine whether “to serve the victim with malware or redirect them to another page that might contain a phishing scam.” Read more:

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