Xanthe - Docker Aware Miner


Staff member
Malware Hunter
Jul 27, 2015
Cisco Talos recently discovered an interesting campaign affecting Linux systems employing a multi-modular botnet with several ways to spread and a payload focused on providing financial benefits for the attacker by mining Monero online currency. The actor employs various methods to spread across the network, like harvesting client-side certificates for spreading to known hosts using ssh, or spreading to systems with an incorrectly configured Docker API.


We believe this is the first time anyone's documented Xanthe's operations. The actor is actively maintaining all the modules and has been active since March this year.


The infection starts with the downloader module, which downloads the main installer module, which is also tasked with spreading to other systems on the local and remote networks. The main module attempts to spread to other known hosts by stealing the client-side certificates and connecting to them without the requirement for a password. Two additional bash scripts terminate security services, removing competitor's botnets and ensuring persistence by creating scheduled cron jobs and modifying one of the system startup scripts. The main payload is a variant of the XMRig Monero mining program that is protected with a shared object developed to hide the presence of the miner's process from various tools for process enumeration.


Defenders need to be constantly vigilant and monitor the behavior of systems within their network. Attackers are like water — they look for the smallest crack to seep in, like we see in Xanthe's potential to spread using systems with exposed Docker API. While organizations need to be focused on protecting their most valuable assets, they should not ignore threats that are not specifically targeted at their infrastructure.
The initial script, pop.sh, is a simple downloader script which downloads and runs the main bot module xanthe.sh, which then downloads and runs all additional modules. It is also tasked with scanning the network and spreading to other systems over SSH and by exploiting Docker daemon installations with exposed web API.

There are four modules that are downloaded and launched:
  • Process-hiding module libprocesshider.so
  • Shell script to disable other miners and security services
  • Shell script to remove Docker containers of competing Docker-targeting crypto mining trojans
  • XMRig binary together with a downloaded JSON configuration file, config.json