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New malware created by Chinese-backed Winnti Group has been discovered by researchers at ESET while being used to gain persistence on Microsoft SQL Server (MSSQL) systems.

The new malicious tool dubbed skip-2.0 can be used by the attackers to backdoor MSSQL Server 11 and 12 servers, enabling them to connect to any account on the server using a so-called "magic password" and hide their activity from the security logs.

"This backdoor allows the attacker not only to gain persistence in the victim's MSSQL Server through the use of a special password, but also to remain undetected thanks to the multiple log and event publishing mechanisms that are disabled when that password is used," says ESET researcher Mathieu Tartare.