This new RAT is dropped to the victims via malicious Microsoft Office documents. The dropper, along with the Python RAT, attempts to gather information on the victim's machine and then uses multiple cloud services: Google Drive, Twitter, ImgBB and Google Forms. The RAT attempts to download additional payloads and upload the information gathered during the reconnaissance phase. This particular RAT attempts to target a very specific set of Arabic-speaking countries. The filtering is performed by checking the keyboard layout of the infected systems. Based on the analysed sample, JhoneRAT targets Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Oman, Yemen, Syria, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon.
What's new? The campaign shows an actor that developed a homemade RAT that works in multiple layers hosted on cloud providers. JhoneRAT is developed in Python but not based on public source code, as it is often the case for this type of malware. The attackers put great effort to carefully select the targets located in specific countries based on the victim's keyboard layout.
How did it work? Everything starts with a malicious document using a well-known vulnerability to download a malicious document hosted on the internet. For this campaign, the attacker chose to use a cloud provider (Google) with a good reputation to avoid URL blacklisting. The malware is divided into a couple of layers — each layer downloads a new payload on a cloud provider to get the final RAT developed in Python and that uses additional providers such as Twitter and ImgBB.
So what? This RAT is a good example of how a highly focused attack that tries to blend its network traffic into the crowd can be highly effective. In this campaign, focusing detection of the network is not the best approach. Instead, the detection must be based on the behaviour on the operating system. Attackers can abuse well-known cloud providers and abuse their reputations in order to avoid detection.