This Malware Has a Worrying Trick to Mine Monero on Cloud Servers

In an apparent first, a relatively new form of malware uninstalls security programs to avoid detection and mine crypto on cloud servers.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:49 a.m. UTC
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A recently observed form of malware uses a concerning new trick to avoid detection and mine cryptocurrency on cloud servers.

Two researchers, Xingyu Jin and Claud Xiao, from cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, published a report on Thursday, saying that a nasty bit of software from bad actors dubbed the Rocke group is targeting public cloud infrastructure. Once downloaded, it takes administrative control to first uninstall cloud security products and then inject code that mines the monero cryptocurrency.

The researchers found that the Rocke malware injected code to uninstall five different cloud security products from infected Linux servers – including offerings from top Chinese cloud providers, Alibaba and Tencent. Adding insult to injury, the malware follows the uninstall steps set out in the products' user manuals.

To do its malicious work, the Rocke group exploits vulnerabilities in Apache Struts 2, Oracle WebLogic, and Adobe ColdFusion applications, and then downloads a shell script named “a7.” This knocks our rival crypto miners and conceals signs of its presence, as well as disabling the security programs.

The researchers add:

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first malware family that developed the unique capability to target and remove cloud security products."

The Rocke group malware was first discovered by IT giant Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group back in August. At the time Talos researcher David Liebenberg said that Rocke will “continue to leverage Git repositories to download and execute illicit mining onto victim machines.”

Back in November, research from Israel-based cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies showed that a monero mining malware, dubbed KingMiner, is evolving through time to avoid detection.

Monero remains by far the most popular cryptocurrency among hackers. Last week, a study by college researchers showed that hackers have mined at least 4.32 percent of the total monero in circulation.

A study from McAfee, published in December, showed that instances of crypto-mining malware grew by over 4,000 percent last year.

Malware image via Shutterstock 

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