UK government tackles online abuse with anti-trolling website

The UK government has launched a new website designed to support victims of online abuse, while offering practical advice on how to report the abusers, writes The Independent.

The Stop Online Abuse website was launched over the weekend, and will offer information and help to victims of crimes including online harassment, revenge porn, hate speech, sexual harassment and blackmail.

The Guardian explains that the site is particularly aimed at women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as the sectors of society most targeted with online threats.

The site was created by the government in response to a report detailing the scale of abuse experienced by women and LGBT people on the internet. The organization behind the campaign, Stonewall, said 23% of LGBT pupils reported experience of cyberbullying and 5% of LGBT adults said they had been the target of homophobic insults in the past year, in figures cited by Hot For Security.

Nicky Morgan, the minister for women and equalities, said: “This new site will provide practical advice for women and LGBT people on how to recognise abuse, what steps to take to report it and how to get offensive content removed. It is another sign of our determination to tackle discrimination in all its forms and create a fairer society for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The UK’s move to support abuse victims will be seen as a positive step, as governing bodies in the US continue to grapple with the law around such cases. Last month US representative Katherine Clark put forward a new bill that seeks to increase resources around the issue, with the addition of 10 new FBI agents dedicated to tackling cyberthreats, as reported by We Live Security.

by Kyle Ellison, ESET

The 6 biggest online gaming hacks

Online gaming systems and apps are a common target for cybercriminals, looking to do everything from improving their own scores and grabbing new game features to stealing Bitcoin wallets. We now look at six of the biggest online gaming hacks to date.

1. Sony PlayStation Network

The Sony PlayStation Network was famously hacked back in April 2011, resulting not only in the compromise of up to 77 million accounts, but also downtime which prevented users of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable consoles from playing online through the service.

The attack continued for two days, eventually forcing Sony to turn off the PlayStation Network on April 20 – a downtime which lasted for 23 days. The Japanese electronics giant admitted that personally identifiable information from each of the 77 million accounts was breached, with 12,000 encrypted credit card details potentially accessed as well.

This breach remains one of the biggest in the 21st century, and has been described as the fourth biggest of all time, going by records lost. Sony said that the outage costs set the firm back a whopping $171 million.

2. Xbox Live, PlayStation Network (again)

Father Christmas may bring presents on Christmas Day, but the gifts handed out by hactivism collective the ‘Lizard Squad’ were less well received, especially by Sony and Microsoft, on 25th December 2014.

The group launched a series of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Xbox Live and the Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) on Christmas Day, bringing down both services and leaving gamers young and old twiddling their thumbs instead of their gamepads, unable to play the latest releases.

Access to PSN and Xbox Live was eventually restored between 24 and 48 hours later, but the attack gave a good example of the growing skills in hactivism groups and showed just how disruptive cyberattacks can be.

3. Steam

The online video game service Steam was the subject of a massive data breach in 2011, which resulted in attackers compromising login details for one of its discussion forums as well as a database which held ID and credit card data, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information.

Fortunately, service owner Valve said that there was no evidence that credit cards had been misused or Steam accounts abused. Valve took the forums offline after learning of the attack.


The firm quickly begun their own investigation, advised forum users to change their passwords, and on other accounts if the same as used for Steam.

Steam is a gaming service that lets people buy, download, play and chat about a huge variety of games. It is used by around 35 million users worldwide.

4. Gamigo

Back in 2012, Germany-based free online gaming site Gamigo was hacked, with hackers posting as many as 11 million passwords online after they had penetrated the website’s defenses.

These passwords were published onto a forum, and contained 8.2 million unique email addresses. Gamigo warned users in early March that an “attack on the Gamigo database” had exposed hashed passwords and usernames and possibly other “additional personal data.” The site required users to change their account passwords.

The dump of passwords contained email addresses from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and many other services, indicating that some Gamigo users may have used the same password for other accounts.

5. Big Fish Games

Back in February of this year, Seattle-based gaming company Big Fish Games revealed that it had suffered from a data breach in which hackers made off with customer payment information.

The firm discovered the breach on January 12 and said that malware was installed on the billing and payment pages of the company’s website. Hackers subsequently intercepted customer data including names, addresses, payment card numbers, expiration dates and CVV2 codes.


Big Fish Games stressed that only customers who had entered new payment information on the company’s website between 24 December 2014 and January 8, 2015 may be affected. Those who used payment information from a previously saved profile don’t appear to be impacted – and the same applied to customers buying games on Facebook, iOS or Android.

Founded in 2002, Big Fish claims to be the world’s largest producer and distributor of casual games. The company says it has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in over 150 countries.

6. Various (South Korea)

In August of last year, South Korean authorities confirmed that 27 million individuals in the country had been hit by a massive data breach – a figure which means nearly 70 percent of the population between 15 and 65 years of age were affected, according to Tech Worm.

The breach came to light after the law enforcement arrested 16 individuals who were suspected either of the attack itself, or of trying to sell the records on.

One criminal, known only as “Kim”, was apparently attempting to sell over 220 million items of personal information after allegedly buying these details from a hacker.

The police suspected that “Kim” used the personal information to steal online game currency by using a hacking tool. This tool logs onto a user’s account once the log-in details are entered. If the passwords were wrong, he allegedly bought the personal information on ID cards and their issue dates from a retailer in Daegu, to change the passwords himself.

The data, which included account logins and registration numbers, was stolen after attackers hacked registration pages for online games, movie ticketing and ringtone downloads. Online gambling promotion services were also affected, reported Korea’s Joongang Daily at the time.

433,000 Ford cars to be recalled because of software bug – would you have preferred an internet update?

It’s the kind of news which will make some of the more mean-hearted of us chortle.

Well, those of us who don’t own Ford motor cars at least.

Apparently, Ford has identified a software bug on a number of its car models that means drivers may not be able to turn off the engine, even if they remove the ignition key.

As a result, 433,000 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape vehicles are being recalled for a software update.

Ford advisory

Ford Motor Company is issuing a safety compliance recall for approximately 433,000 vehicles in North America, including certain 2015 Focus, C-MAX and Escape vehicles, for an issue with the body control module. In these vehicles, it could be possible for the engine to continue to run after turning the ignition key to the “off” position and removing the key, or after pressing the Engine Start/Stop button. This is a compliance issue with FMVSS 114 regarding theft protection and rollaway prevention.

Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with this issue.

Clearly its frustrating for those 433,000 car owners, and a major nuisance for the car dealerships that will have to apply the software fix even if it only takes a few minutes in the showroom.

Wouldn’t it have been much less of a nuisance if those Ford cars had been able to update themselves via the internet instead?

Well, yes, maybe that would have been a smoother way to roll out the software patch to all those cars – but don’t forget there are significant security challenges with that approach too.

For instance, BMW was forced to roll out a patch for a security flaw earlier this year that could have allowed hackers to open the doors of some 2.2 million vehicles – after a security researcher showed how he was able to intercept network traffic from certain BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce models and send commands telling the cars to lower their windows or open their doors.

BMW Connected Drive

In other words, the way BMW had implemented internet updates for its cars had itself introduced a serious security vulnerability.

Furthermore, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey released a report claiming that many modern car manufacturers are endangering lives by exposing drivers to hacking attacks that could cause vehicles to be hijacked or crashed, and the personal information of drivers to be stolen.

And who can forget the time we showed you how car hackers can disable brakes and steal your personal data?

In short, cars which are capable of receiving instructions via the internet (such as software updates) are potentially more at risk of being hacked or meddled with than those which don’t.

And yet, as the unstoppable internet of things continues to pervade everything from smart home thermostats to lightbulbs to fridges to medical implants and baby monitors it seems inevitable that more and more cars will contain this kind of functionality in the years to come.

Yes, it’s a heck lot more convenient for car drivers to have their cars fixed remotely, but the more that software is used to control and maintain our vehicles the more potential exists for mistakes to be made, and for malicious hackers to take advantage.

So, how do you feel about internet updates for your car? Would you like to be on the receiving end, or would you prefer to be in the driving seat for your vehicle’s patches and decide for yourself when you’ll squeeze in a trip to the garage?

Leave a comment below, sharing your opinion.

by Graham Cluley, ESET We Live Security

Android malware radically dominant



A new report from Pulse Secure shows that 97% of mobile malware is targeted at the Android OS. Why does Android remain so dominant? What can you and your company do to reduce the risk of infection?

The report also shows that the overwhelming majority of Android malware is being developed and distributed by third party app stores in the Middle East and Asia. Another reason these findings skew so heavily towards Android could be how intensely regulated and locked down iOS is, which, beyond being jailbroken, is very difficult to install third party apps on. The colossal user base, open-source nature and ease with which almost anyone can install third-party apps and app stores could also contribute to the majority of malware being Android based. As Mark James, ESET IT security specialist, explains “the Android user has a much bigger opportunity to download aps from unknown or insecure markets it’s bound to have an impact on its security.”

How can you avoid mobile malware?

“If you’re sticking to the official app stores and limiting what you do and do not install then you will be fairly safe,” there are always risks involved and often minimising them as much as possible is the only way forward.

“Always download your apps from the official Google Play Store, if you have to download an APK from an external source make sure you do some research and ensure its safe.”

“Always where possible read the reviews for the app you’re downloading and check the permissions that the app requires; limiting what you download and what is installed on your phone will help to keep you and your device safe.”

It’s also worth mentioning that you have a look through the options once an app is installed: often location tracking and other features that gather your personal information can be disabled.

“Installing security software that can not only scan for malware but manage app permissions is a must, most of these will also provide anti-theft measures to track your device in case it’s lost or stolen.”

Last but certainly not least: BYOD policies should always limit what you install and where you install it from; this should be the basic requirement in protecting your work environment.”

ESET Regularly Releasing Updates to Products

[SCM]actwin,0,0,0,0;http:// ESET Shop - Google Chrome chrome 17.01.2013 , 14:57:35

At ESET, we adapt rapidly to the ever changing security environment, by regularly releasing updates to enhance our products and services. It is important that our users keep their security software up-to-date to ensure maximum protection.

We always take any reported issues seriously and our core technology team is continuously making improvements for our customers, delivering the updates automatically to make the security experience as smooth and safe as possible.

Recently Google’s Project Zero Team reported some vulnerabilities and fixes were implemented immediately. They have reported two vulnerabilities to us in the last 10 days. The first of them on June 19th, 2015, and the second on June 26th, 2015. In both cases, the issues were solved in less than 3 days, over a weekend. We made sure the fixes were available automatically to every customer, both businesses and home users, through the regular security updates of our products.

„Protecting customers is our top priority, therefore we continually update and improve our products, “said Juraj Malcho, Chief Research Officer at ESET. „We greatly value the commitment to responsible disclosure and collaborative nature of the IT security industry.“

ESET develops award-winning security software trusted by over 100 million users. Our industry leading security product portfolio is regularly recognized by a variety of independent testing organizations such as Virus Bulletin, AV-Comparatives, as well as IT media and customers.

More information about the ESET automatic product updates

ESET products are automatically updated several times a day to include the latest detection algorithms as well as scanning enhancements. If you want to make sure this is working correctly in your system, please check the following article in our Knowledge Base:

Both vulnerabilities have been fixed by ESET using this update system. The first one, with the update #11824, and the second with the update #11861.

Dino – the latest spying malware from an allegedly French espionage group analysed

In this blog we describe a sophisticated backdoor, called Dino by its creators. We believe this malicious software has been developed by the Animal Farm espionage group, who also created the infamous Casper, Bunny and Babar malware. Dino contains interesting technical features, and also a few hints that the developers are French speaking.

Animal Farm is the security industry’s name for a group of attackers first described by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in a set of slides leaked by Edward Snowden in March 2014. In those slides CSE assess with “moderate certainty” that this group is a French intelligence agency. Since then, several examples of malware created by Animal Farm have been found and publicly documented, in particular:

The connection between those pieces of malware and the group described in CSE slides has been convincingly established, for example by Paul Rascagnères (G Data).

In this blog post we add a new piece to the puzzle with Dino, another malicious program belonging to Animal Farm’s arsenal.


The sample of Dino documented in this blog post was used in 2013 against targets in Iran. The original means of infection is unknown, though we believe Dino was installed by another program, as it contains an uninstallation command without the corresponding installation procedure. Given the set of commands it can receive, Dino’s main goal seems to be the exfiltration of files from its targets.

The binary’s original name, “Dino.exe”, has been left visible by its authors, as was the case with Casper. Dino – which could be referring to the pet character from The Flintstones cartoon show – was already mentioned in a recent Kaspersky blog as a “full-featured espionage platform,” but no technical analysis has been published yet.

Roughly, Dino can be described as an elaborate backdoor built in a modular fashion. Among its technical innovations, there is a custom file system to execute commands in a stealthy fashion, and a complex task-scheduling module working in a similar way to the “cron” Unix command. Interestingly, the binary contains a lot of verbose error messages, allowing us to see Dino’s developers’ choice of wording. Also, a few technical artefacts suggest that Dino was authored by native French speakers.

Dino Basics

Modules List

Dino has been developed in C++ and presents a well-defined modular architecture. The following array lists the modules contained in this Dino binary; the module names are those assigned by the developers.

Module Name Module Purpose
PSM Encrypted on-disk copy for Dino modules
CORE Configuration storage
CRONTAB Task scheduler
FMGR File upload and download manager
CMDEXEC Command execution manager
CMDEXECQ Storage queue for commands to execute
ENVVAR Storage for environment variables

Data Structure

Dino heavily relies on a custom data structure named “DataStore” by the Animal Farm developers. In particular, all Dino’s modules store their content inside this structure, making its understanding one of the keys to analyzing Dino.

A DataStore is a map from string keys to values of 8 possible types, such as integers or strings. The implementation of this data structure is based on a hash table. It means that to retrieve the value associated with a key, one has to calculate the hash of the key to locate a bucket from which the value can be retrieved.

Dino’s hash is a one-byte value calculated with a series of XOR operations on the key, and each bucket starts a linked list containing key/value pairs. The code responsible for retrieving the value associated with a key is shown in Figure 1.


Finally, DataStore objects can be serialized in a custom format, which begins with the magic word “DxSx”. This is used in particular by the PSM module to save the content of Dino modules in an encrypted file. More precisely, when a modification is made to a module’s content in memory, the PSM module saves it as a serialized DataStore. When Dino restarts, the module is deserialized from the file and loaded into memory. Funnily enough, the key serving to encrypt the file on disk is “PsmIsANiceM0du1eWith0SugarInside”.


Dino’s configuration is initially stored in a serialized DataStore object contained in a zip archive at the end of the Dino binary. At runtime this object is deserialized and stored inside the CORE module. We can list the configuration’s content with Dino’s “conf –l CORE” command – described later – which displays on separate rows each key’s name, its associated value and the type of this value:

Started:5523F782 QWORD
InitialWaitDone:00000001 DWORD
InteractiveDelay:00000005 DWORD
MaxNothingSaidCount:00000078 DWORD
InstallDate: 5523F782 QWORD
fields:78537844…[REDACTED]…66B3900 BYTES
recID:11173-01-PRS WIDESTR
Version:1.2 WIDESTR
BD_Keys: 4D41474943424F58…[REDACTED]…9EB3506 BYTES
CC_Keys: 4D41474943424F58…[REDACTED]…0000000 BYTES
MaxDelay:00000E10 DWORD
ComServer0:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/postal.php STR
ComServer1:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/din12/postal.php STR
ComServer2:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/postal.php STR
ComServer3:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/din12/postal.php STR
ComServer4:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/postal.php STR
ComServer5:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/postal.php STR
ComServer6:hXXp://…[REDACTED]…/postal.php STR
NextSendReceive:5CC33097FB72D001 BYTES
CC:000064F7-72E4-3F7D-C817-474D-A9BDBDF7 STR
DaysOfLife:00000000 DWORD
InitialDelay:00000000 DWORD
now:5523F78E QWORD
hash:A88E8181CA5CE35AE70C76145DFB820D BYTES
InitialCommands:78537844…[REDACTED]…000000 BYTES
xT0rvwz:DC188352A…[REDACTED]…00000 BYTES
tr4qa589:K/[RAFtIP?ciD?:D STR
jopcft4T:a.ini WIDESTR

While most of the keys have self-explanatory names, we would like to focus on the following keys:

  • “recID”: Animal Farms binaries contain an ID whose decimal value appears to identify the target, “11173-01-PRS” in this case. For example Casper used an “ID” value set to “13001”, whereas some Babar samples used “12075-01” and “11162-01”. We do not know the meaning of the “PRS” suffix added in the case of Dino.
  • “ComServer”: These keys contain the command and control (C&C) servers’ URLs. All the URLs were down when we started our analysis. Those C&Cs were compromised legitimate websites, which is standard operating procedure for Animal Farm.
  • “Version”: Dino’s code version; here set to “1.2”, which is confirmed by the “din12” folder used in one of the C&C URLs. For the record, a “d13” folder has been seen on another Animal Farm C&C (see “3.7 Calling home” of Marschalek’s Babar report), indicating that Dino version 1.3 has also likely been deployed at some point.
  • “BD_Keys” and “CC_Keys” contain cryptographic keys to encrypt the network communications with C&C servers. Their values start with the word “MAGICBOX”.
  • The three last keys are displayed with obfuscated names (“xT0rvwz”, “tr4qa589” and “jopcft4T”) and store parameters for the custom file system we will describe later.


The following Table lists the commands accepted by this Dino binary with the names chosen by the developers. Each of those commands can take one or more arguments.

Command Purpose
sysinfo Retrieve reconnaissance information from the machine
killBD Uninstall Dino using the custom file system (see ramFS description below for details)
! Execute Windows batch command passed as a parameter
cd Change the current work directory
pwd Retrieve the current work directory path
dir List files in a given directory with various additional information
set Set or remove environment variables stored in the ENVVAR module
conf Display or update module content
search Search for files whose names match given patterns. The files found are packed in an archive, which is then scheduled for upload to the C&C using the FMGR module.
archive Create an archive from given file paths
unarchive Unpack an archive to a given location
download Schedule a file transfer to the C&C using the FMGR module
cancel Remove the next file transfer scheduled in the FMGR module
cancelall Remove all scheduled file transfers in the FMGR module
cronadd Schedule a command to be executed at a certain time by the CRONTAB module (see CRONTAB description below for details)
cronlist List registered entries in the CRONTAB module
crondel Remove an entry in the CRONTAB module
wakeup Schedule a wake-up of the malware after a certain amount of time using the CRONTAB module
restart N/A: the command is actually not implemented
showip Display the public IP of the infected machine
cominfos Display information about the currently used C&C server
comallinfos Display information about all known C&C servers
wget Download a file from the currently used C&C server onto the machine
delayttk Delay the de-installation of the malware, if scheduled

One command of particular interest is “search”, which allows the operators to look for files very precisely. For example, it can provide all files with a “.doc” extension, the size of which is bigger than 10 kilobytes, and that were modified in the last 3 days. We believe this exfiltration of files to be Dino’s end goal.

At startup Dino executes successively the commands stored in the “InitialCommands” field in its configuration; in the sample we analyzed they are:

!ipconfig /all
!ipconfig /displaydns

Those commands serve as a reconnaissance step for the operators. Their execution is managed by the CMDEXEC module, the commands being stored in a queue inside the CMDEXECQ module. The result is reported to the C&C server.

After having described Dino’s basics, we are now going to dig into two particularly interesting components; first, a custom file system used by the malware, and then the CRONTAB module in charge of task scheduling.

RamFS: A Temporary File System

Dino contains a custom file system named “ramFS” by its developers. It provides a complex data structure to store files in memory, each of them bearing a name corresponding to filenames used by usual file systems. RamFS also comes with a set of custom commands that can be stored in files and executed. It should be noticed that ramFS is also present in other Animal Farm binaries (see attribution paragraph below), but since we are unaware of previous analysis of ramFS, we are describing our findings here.


RamFS content is initially stored encrypted in Dino’s configuration under the key “xT0rvwz”, whereas the corresponding RC4 key is stored under the key “tr4qa589”. Once the file system has been decrypted, it is stored in memory as a linked list of 512-byte memory chunks, each one of them being individually RC4-encrypted. When looking for a file in ramFS, each chunk is decrypted, processed and then re-encrypted. Hence there are very few noticeable traces of ramFS during its use.

Here are some high-level characteristics of this file system:

  • File names and file content are encoded in Unicode
  • File names length is limited to 260 characters
  • Once decrypted, file content is manipulated as chunks of 540 bytes
  • There is no metadata associated with the files

We could not find an existing file system matching the memory structures and the characteristics of ramFS, and therefore we believe this file system to be an original creation of the Animal Farm group.


Several commands can be executed in the context of ramFS, as listed in the following Table.

Command Meaning
CD Change the current work directory on the real file system
MD N/A: the command is actually not implemented
INSTALL Installation or de-installation of Dino, in Windows registry and/or as a service
EXTRACT Extracts a file stored in ramFS onto the machine
DELETE Deletes a file stored on the machine
EXEC Executes a file stored in ramFS
INJECT Injects a file stored in ramFS into a running process
SLEEP Sleeps for a given amount of time
KILL Terminates a running process
AUTODEL N/A: the command is actually not implemented

Usage of ramFS in Dino

In the case of Dino, ramFS serves as protected storage for one specific file containing the instructions to remove the malware from the machine. The developers named this file the “cleaner” and it is executed when Dino receives the command “killBD” (the “BD” acronym is the developers’ designation of the malware).

Figure 2 shows the code responsible for executing this cleaner file. First, it retrieves the name of the file from Dino’s configuration (“a.ini”), then it retrieves the key to decrypt ramFS, and it finally mounts the file system in memory in order to execute the cleaner file stored inside. The verbosity of the error messages makes it particularly easy to understand the purpose of the code.


The cleaner file contains the string “INSTALL -A “wusvcd” -U” which, once executed, will uninstall the malware from the machine – “wusvcd” being the name used to register Dino on the machine.

Hence, ramFS serves as a protected container for files to be executed on the machine, offering a disposable execution environment to the operators and leaving very few traces on the system.

Tasks scheduling in a Unix fashion

The commands “cronadd”, “cronlist” and “crondel” serve respectively to add, list, and remove scheduled tasks registered in the CRONTAB module. Those tasks are Dino’s commands.

The syntax to define scheduled tasks is similar to the one used by the cron Unix command. In particular the time at which to run a command is given by a string following the format “minute hour day month year dayofweek”. Alternatively, this string can be replaced by “@boot” for a command to run at each startup – whereas some Unix cron implementations accept “@reboot”.

As an example, here is the output of the “cronlist” command after a “wakeup” command has been scheduled to run on 7th April 2015 at 15:44:

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 3.13.43 PM

As we can see, each entry is identified by an “Id”, an incrementing hexadecimal number starting at 0xC0. The purpose of the “Local” field remains unclear (the other possible value being “-l”). The “Count” parameter counts the number of times a command has been executed, “-1” indicating the command will be executed only once. Finally, the “Visibility” field defines whether the command execution will be reported to the C&C (the other possible value being “Silent”).


Dino Belongs To The Farm

The amount of shared code between Dino and known Animal Farm malware leaves very little doubt that Dino belongs to Animal Farm’s arsenal. Among these shared features, we can cite the following:

  • At the very beginning of Dino execution, the current process name is checked against process names used by some sandboxes:


A very similar check (against “klavme”, “myapp”, “TESTAPP” and “afyjevmv.exe”) is present in Bunny samples, and in some first-stage implants deployed by Animal Farm.

  • To hide its calls to certain API functions, Dino employs a classic Animal Farm ploy: a hash is calculated from the function’s name and used to look for the address of the API function. The actual hashing algorithm used in Dino is the same that was used in Casper, namely a combination of rotate-left (ROL) of 7 bits and exclusive-or (XOR) operations.
  • The Dino’s custom file system – the so-called ramFS – is present in several droppers used by Animal Farm. In those binaries the file system serves to set the persistence of the payload. For example, here is the command executed by some NBOT droppers in the context of ramFS:


  • As a final indication that Dino belongs to Animal Farm menagerie, it is noticeable that the output of Dino’s sysinfo command looks like an updated version of the “beacon” from the SNOWBALL implant described in the leaked CSE slides – part of operation SNOWGLOBE, which led to the discovery of Babar:
Dino’s sysinfo example output
Login/Domain (owner): Administrator/JOHN (john)
Computer name: JOHN
Organization (country):  (United States)
RecId: 11173-01-PRS
MaxDelay: 3600
Version: 1.2
OS version (SP): 5.1 (Service Pack 3)
WOW64: No
Default browser: firefox.exe
IE version: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Win32)
First launch: 04/01/2015 – 18:31:14
Time to kill: N/A
Last launch : 04/01/2015 – 19:21:44
Mode: N/A  |  Rights: Admin  |  UAC: No
ID: 4635BEF0-D89D-11E4-B283-000C-29FD2872
InstallAv: 0
Inj: Yes
SNOWBALL implant beacon


All these indicators together make us very confident that Dino was developed by the Animal Farm group.

French speaking Developers

Dino adds at least two more indicators to those already documented suggesting that Animal Farm developers are French speaking:

  • Dino’s binary contains a resource whose language code value is 1036. The original purpose of this language code is to allow developers to provide resources (menus, icons, version information…) for different locations in the world in the corresponding language. Interestingly, when a developer does not manually specify the language code, the compiler sets it to the language of the developer’s machine. So, which language corresponds to the value 1036, or 0x40c in hexadecimal? French (France).

Of course a non-French speaking developer could have deliberately set this value to mislead attribution efforts. But in more recent Animal Farm binaries (for example Casper), this language code has been set to the classical English (USA) language code. Therefore, it seems that Animal Farm developers forgot to set this value in their first creations, realized their mistake at some point, and decided to set a standard value. Someone using the language code as a false flag would have likely kept the strategy going.

For the record, this Dino sample is not the only Animal Farm binary with 1036 as language code.

  • Dino’s binary is statically linked with the GnuMP library, which is used to manipulate big numbers in cryptography algorithms. The GnuMP code in Dino contains file paths coming from the developer’s machine:

As the attentive reader has probably guessed, “arithmetique” is the French translation of “arithmetic”.


Dino’s binary shows an intense development effort, from custom data structures to a homemade file system. As with other Animal Farm binaries, it bears the mark of professional and experienced developers.

But Dino also shows a poor knowledge, or interest, from these developers in anti-analysis techniques – contrary to what was seen in Casper – as demonstrated, for example, by the verbosity of some Dino’s log messages:


All those messages provide substantial help in understanding Dino’s internal workings. One will also appreciate the numerous misspellings contained in the messages.

Regarding Dino’s victims, we know very little except that they were located in Iran in 2013. This is in accordance with the victimology described by Canada’s CSE in its presentation:


That leads us to the final point of this blog: several signs suggest that Dino’s creators are French speaking developers. These signs add to the pretty long list of indicators already supporting this hypothesis, in particular the ones mentioned by Canada’s CSE.

Indicators of Compromise

Indicator Value
Sample SHA1 BF551FBDCF5A982705C01094436883A6AD3B75BD
C&C URL hXXp://
C&C URL hXXp://
C&C URL hXXp://
Path C:\Program Files\Common Files\wusvcd\wusvcd.exe
Default storage file names C:\Program Files\Common Files\wusvcd\wusvcd00000000-0000-0000-0000-0000-00000000.{dax,dat,lck}
Downloaded file name extension .tmp_dwn
Registry key Software\Microsoft\Windows\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\wusvcd

by Joan Calvet, ESET

UK Companies Commonly Held Hostage by Hackers


ESET study reveals that 84 percent of companies would be crushed if infected by ransomware and 31 percent would have no choice but to pay the hackers.

Over a third of UK companies have either personally been held to ransom by hackers or know someone that has had their networks infected by ransomware, a new study from ESET has revealed.

The study, which was carried out at Infosecurity Europe in June 2015 and examined the attitudes 200 security professionals, also revealed that 84 percent of respondents believe that their company would be seriously damaged if it was ever infected by ransomware. However, 31 percent of respondents admitted that if they were infected by ransomware they would have no choice but to pay the fine because the alternative would mean losing all the data on their computer.

Ransomware is one of the most frightening types of malware due to its destructive power. The attack involves someone’s computer screen being replaced by a message that appears to be from the police, demanding money, or a message saying your files are lost unless you pay a ransom to unlock them. Over the last year cyber criminals have developed a number of new ransomware variants which have allowed hackers to encrypt their victims’ data, which has forced more people to pay the ransom.

IT security professionals still do not understand how to properly deal with ransomware. With all ransomware infections the biggest problem is the decision on how to deal with the attack. The options are limited to either paying the ransom, which is definitely not recommended, or restoring from backup, however depending on how often the files are backed up, this can mean losing a lot of data. Any company that pays the ransom is funding criminals and as long as hackers find ransomware to be profitable, the more effort they will put into building even more sophisticated variants, which will get harder and harder to remove.

by Mark James, ESET UK


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