Phorpiex botnet shuts down, source code goes up for sale
The operators of the Phorpiex malware have shut down their botnet and put its source code for sale on a dark web cybercrime forum, The Record has learned.
The ad, posted earlier today by an individual previously linked to the botnet's operation, claims that none of the malware's two original authors are involved in running the botnet, hence the reason they decided to sell its source code.
"As I no longer work and my friend has left the biz, I'm here to offer Trik (name from coder) / Phorpiex (name fomr AV firms) source for sell [sic]," the individual said today in a forum post spotted by British security firm Cyjax.
The source code for the Phorpiex botnet is being sold on the darknet... pic.twitter.com/GxBsnUacvh— Cyjax (@Cyjax_Ltd) August 27, 2021
Alexey Bukhteyev, a malware reverse engineer for security firm Check Point, helped The Record today confirm the ad's validity.
"The description of the malware is very similar to what we saw in the code," Bukhteyev told us.
The researcher, who previously analyzed the Phorpiex malware back in 2019, said that the malware's command and control (C&C) servers have not been active for almost two months.
Bukhteyev, who has been running a fake Phorpiex bot in order to spy on its activity, told The Record that the last command the bot received from the Phorpiex C&C servers was on July 6, 2021, and the command was a self-explanatory "SelfDeletion" instruction.
Since then, the botnet appears to have disappeared from open-source reporting.
"As we know, the source code is private and hasn't been sold before. Therefore, this [forum ad] looks really believable," Bukhteyev told The Record.
"However, we can be totally sure if we buy it. The binaries are quite straightforward, and we can easily confirm that the source code is for this bot indeed, if we get it," the researcher added.
"One thing that points to that the seller is likely a real author is: 'Main bot right now is FUD from windows defender', because all the modules I know currently get AV detections on VT even if they are uploaded there for the first time."
Buyer gets access to all the Phorpiex infected systems too
However, Bukhteyev also warns that even if the botnet C&C servers are down, once someone buys the code, they can set up new ones and hijack all the previously infected systems.
"There are still a lot of infected machines = active bots. We can't definitely say how many, but we constantly see many hits on our gateways," the Check Point researcher added.
However, it is unclear if the botnet will be bought.
There's both an upside and a downside to operating the botnet.
The upside is that the botnet has a tried and tested history of generating profits, primarily through its spam module and cryptocurrency clipboard hijacking feature.
For example, the spam module has helped the botnet's authors generate more than $115,000 in profits from a classic sextortion scheme back in 2019.
The malware has also sold access to its infected bots to ransomware gangs, with the now-defunct Avaddon gang using Phorpiex bots to deploy their ransomware inside corporate networks last year.
"Also, the bot architecture allows the botmaster to passively earn some money from crypto-clipping (changing crypto-currency wallet addresses in the clipboard) even without any active C&C servers," Bukhteyev also said.
The downside is, however, a pretty big one. The botnet isn't as secure as other malware botnets and has often been hijacked by third parties to deploy their own payloads or issue rogue "uninstall" commands, something that may deter buyers.
Additional details on the Phorpiex malware are available on this Malpedia page. Some reports refer to the botnet as Phorpiex, the name given to it by antivirus companies, while others refer to it as Trik, is the name used by the botnet's authors.
The full text of the Phorpiex ad is below:
as I no longer work and my friend has left the biz, I'm here to offer Trik
(name from coder) / Phorpiex (name fomr AV firms,) source for sell.
The Trik / Phorpiex botnet is no longer active.
Information about phorpiex:
The main bot and all modules are coded in C++
Visual studio 2008 express projects, only PE infector is vs 2010
Everything is compiled with ignoring default libs and linking of msvcrt.lib
from w2k sdk, to reduce size and make it work on all WINOS
The bot nor modules trigger any firewall / UAC prompts
Bot works fine on 32 and 64 bit
Main bot right now is FUD from windows defender runtime, its easy to keep it
FUD runtime from windef, I can explain how
Tries to copy to %systemdrive% and create regkey @ HKLM, if this fails it
moves to %userprofile% and create regkey @ HKCU
The main core of bot (one project) has the following
USB / rem drive spreader
USB / Remote drive spreader works with creating directory on drive, move all exisiting files from drive in the hidden folder, create shortcut with the name of the drive and drive icon when open the shortcut it will open the hidden folder with all files and the bot, so the user doesnt really notice something is wrong
Clipper support those addresses
PERFECT MONEY $ € BTC
PERFECT MONEY €
PERFECT MONEY BTC
The bot has no panel and checks for files every 30 minutes (can be changed), files 1 - 5
It comes with a signing tool for files, with your private key, bots execute
the files only if the key is right and they can decrypt the file, else it
simple is removed
Bot ddownload and execute the file only if its a new file and doesn't download
execute the same file multiple times
So the logic behind this is simply, you just need to sign the files with your
key and upload them to your websever, bot automatically download, decrypt and execute them
The signing tool has those options
-genkey, generate new keys
-sign, to sign file
-verify, to make sure the file is decrypted fine with current key
Possible to spam attachment or normal mail
Comes with a PHP script wich simple gives emails or emails with pass each request, the amount can be configured in the script
All you need is to upload the php script and your list to your server
Bot checks for connection on port 25, if connection is ok, it start download the mails in %temp%, read the list, split the mail, connect to MX server directly of the provider else [0.0.0.0] is used
After the list is spammed, the script will rename the list, and output "0" to
VNC Spreader and autoinfector
All you need todo is change direct link to exe in the source, everything else is automatically
Spreader gnerate random IPs, checks for port 5900, if port is open it start
bruteforce and if logged in, it downloads your file with powershell and bitsadmin
All you need to make your botnet bigger is to download it on whole botnet, it will scans all drives including USB and remote drives for .exe files and infect them with ddownload and exec shellcode
Infection works with 32 and 64 bit files
So those modules can be used to make botnet bigger
And it has the .LNK spreader in it
VNC spreader is also good for ransomware, as example alot of firms, schools are affected
The mailer can be used for sextortion and more
With Trik you only can be richer and your botnet will never shrink
The price for everything with source is 9k$
Garant is no problem, proofs are no problem!
I will fund my account here today too
Kids, timewaster, stay away from me kthx.
First contact - PM.
Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.