Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

GandCrab Gets a SQL Update

A new attack is found that uses MySQL as part of the attack chain in a GandCrab ransomware infection.

A new type of attack by the pervasive GandCrab ransomware could open the door to more juicy targets -- database servers.

Researchers at Sophos Labs discovered a new attack using GandCrab against one of its honeypots. The attack entered the system through Port 3306/tcp — the default port for SQL database servers.

The attack targets MySQL databases via SQL commands to install a helper DLL, upload a series of small files, and ultimately employ SQL commands to upload and install the GandCrab ransomware payload to the database server.

"The origin of the attack is pretty clear; the fact that a server admin may not be monitoring a database server for what other things it might be doing (aside from hosting a database) is part of the problem here. Servers are not really 'set it and forget it' devices and this is why," says Sophos principal researcher Andrew Brandt.

Attacks targeting a SQL server are neither new nor particularly novel — Brandt has written about other such attacks in the past. One of the unusual aspects of this attack is the way in which the attack calls its software from a server with a purported US location — and at least some software with a user interface written in simplified Chinese.

It's notable that the attack uses the MySQL server but isn't necessarily aimed at that server. "I see no evidence that the attackers care about what's in the actual database, or any sign that they are attempting to manipulate or even trying to determine what data is on the machine prior to conducting this type of attack," says Brandt.

But the honeypot where the attack was first seen doesn't have a rich dataset ripe for exploitation, either, he notes.

"The honeypot’s 'server' isn't really a server and it isn't really 'infected' – the honeypot allows the SQL commands to execute and download the executable, but does nothing with it except store a local copy," Brandt explains. Within that limitation, he says that he's not positive that there is a real distinction between the server being used as a tool in the attack and the server being the target of that attack.

GandCrab's licensing model makes it useful for criminals of varying sophistication levels, and this attack mechanism could use a similar model to become popular.

"Once the attack has been designed (and presumably, tested to work out the bugs), we see attacks such as this one used repeatedly, with little to no variation over time," Brandt says. "The automation required to send out these kinds of attacks, once they've been engineered, is not particularly sophisticated at all."

As for protection against the attack, Brandt says using a non-standard SQL port might slow down port-scanning operations, and the real protection comes from using strong, unique passwords for root accounts and admin accounts, as well as a VPN for any application that needs a direct connection to the database server.

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2019 | 9:49:09 PM
CaaS
I want to coin CaaS for Crime as a Service. Its just becoming so prevalent that malicious actors are creating module based platforms that it makes sense to coin a term.
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Lessons from the NSA: Know Your Assets
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  12/12/2019
4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...