Hackers steal Microsoft Exchange credentials using IIS module


Level 37
Thread author
Top poster
Feb 4, 2016
Threat actors are installing a malicious IIS web server module named 'Owowa' on Microsoft Exchange Outlook Web Access servers to steal credentials and execute commands on the server remotely.

The development of Owowa likely started in late 2020 based on compilation data and when it was uploaded to the VirtusTotal malware scanning service.

Based on Kaspersky's telemetry data, the most recent sample in circulation is from April 2021, targeting servers in Malaysia, Mongolia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
These systems belong to government organizations, public transportation companies, and other crucial entities.

Kaspersky underlines that the 'Owowa' targets aren't limited to Southeast Asia, and they have also seen signs of infections in Europe.

An uncommon backdoor​

Microsoft Exchange servers are commonly targeted with web shells that allow threat actors to remotely execute commands on a server and are usually the focus of defenders.

As such, using an IIS module as a backdoor is an excellent way to stay hidden. The actors can send seemingly innocuous authentication requests to OWA, evading standard network monitoring rules as well.