Friday, May 24, 2024

New HijackLoader Malware Uses Advanced Techniques to Avoid Detection

Threat actors exploit HijackLoader because it is a powerful tool for injecting malicious code into legitimate processes, enabling stealthy execution of payloads. 

This technique helps them to evade detection by leveraging trusted applications to carry out malicious activities. 

This scenario makes it more complicated for security measures to effectively identify and mitigate the threat.

Cybersecurity researchers at Crowdsrtike recently discovered a HijackLoader (aka IDAT Loader) that employs sophisticated techniques to evade detection.

Sophisticated HijackLoader Malware

CrowdStrike researchers found HijackLoader evolving with new defense evasion tricks like process hollowing, pipe-triggered activation, and a mix of process doppelganging. 

These enhancements make it stealthier and harder to analyze, not only that even extra unhooking techniques were also spotted.

CrowdStrike uncovered a sophisticated HijackLoader sample that starts with streaming_client.exe, which obfuscates a configuration to evade static analysis. 

Using WinHTTP APIs, it tests internet connectivity by contacting https[:]//nginx[.]org. If successful, it downloads a second-stage config from a remote server.

After getting the second-stage config, the malware hunts for PNG header bytes and a magic value. It then decrypts using XOR and decompresses using RtlDecompressBuffer API. 

Next, it loads a legit Windows DLL specified in the configuration and writes the shellcode to its .text section for execution. It utilizes Heaven’s Gate to evade user mode hooks and injects more shellcodes into cmd.exe. 

HijackLoader infection chain (Source – Crowdstrike)

The third-stage shellcode injects a final payload like a Cobalt Strike beacon into logagent.exe using process hollowing.

HijackLoader evades detection with Heaven’s Gate hook bypass and unhooking DLLs watched by security tools. It also uses process hollowing variations and transacted hollowing for injection.

This merges the transacted section and process doppelgänging with DLL hollowing.

Main Evasion Techniques

Here below, we have mentioned all the main evasion techniques that the HijackLoader and Shellcode use:-

  • Hook Bypass: Heaven’s Gate and Unhooking
  • Process Hollowing Variation
  • Interactive Process Hollowing Variation: Tradecraft Analysis
  • Transacted Hollowing² (Transacted Section/Doppelgänger + Hollowing)
  • Transacted Section Hollowing
  • Process Hollowing

The exploitation of HijackLoader underscores the significance of proactive cybersecurity measures to detect and prevent such covert attacks.

Organizations should prioritize regular security audits, employ robust endpoint protection, and stay updated on emerging threats to effectively defend against the evolving tactics employed by threat actors. 

Besides this, user education and awareness training are essential in mitigating the risks associated with these sophisticated attack vectors.

Stay updated on Cybersecurity news, Whitepapers, and Infographics. Follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter.


Latest articles

Hackers Weaponizing Microsoft Access Documents To Execute Malicious Program

In multiple aggressive phishing attempts, the financially motivated organization UAC-0006 heavily targeted Ukraine, utilizing...

Microsoft Warns Of Storm-0539’s Aggressive Gift Card Theft

Gift cards are attractive to hackers since they provide quick monetization for stolen data...

Kinsing Malware Attacking Apache Tomcat Server With Vulnerabilities

The scalability and flexibility of cloud platforms recently boosted the emerging trend of cryptomining...

NSA Releases Guidance On Zero Trust Maturity To Secure Application From Attackers

Zero Trust Maturity measures the extent to which an organization has adopted and implemented...

Chinese Hackers Stay Hidden On Military And Government Networks For Six Years

Hackers target military and government networks for varied reasons, primarily related to spying, which...

DNSBomb : A New DoS Attack That Exploits DNS Queries

A new practical and powerful Denial of service attack has been discovered that exploits...

Malicious PyPI & NPM Packages Attacking MacOS Users

Cybersecurity researchers have identified a series of malicious software packages targeting MacOS users.These...
Guru baran
Guru baran
Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

Free Webinar

Live API Attack Simulation

94% of organizations experience security problems in production APIs, and one in five suffers a data breach. As a result, cyber-attacks on APIs increased from 35% in 2022 to 46% in 2023, and this trend continues to rise.
Key takeaways include:

  • An exploit of OWASP API Top 10 vulnerability
  • A brute force ATO (Account Takeover) attack on API
  • A DDoS attack on an API
  • Positive security model automation to prevent API attacks

Related Articles