Nitrokod crypto miner infected systems across 11 countries since 2019

Pierluigi Paganini August 29, 2022

Researchers spotted a Turkish-based crypto miner malware campaign, tracked as Nitrokod, which infected systems across 11 countries.

Check Point researchers discovered a Turkish based crypto miner malware campaign, dubbed Nitrokod, which infected machines across 11 countries

The threat actors dropped the malware from popular software available on dozens of free software websites, including Softpedia and uptodown. Experts noticed that the software can also be easily found through Google by searching “Google Translate Desktop download”.

The campaign operated under the radar for years because the operators adopted several tricks, such as implementing a delayed mechanism to unleash a long multi-stage infection.

“The software can also be easily found through Google when users search “Google Translate Desktop download”. While the applications boast a “100 CLEAN” banners on some site, the applications are in fact Trojanized, and contain a delayed mechanism to unleash a long multi-stage infection that ends with a cryptomining malware.” reads the analysis published by Check Point. “After the initial software installation, the attackers delayed the infection process for weeks and deleted traces from the original installation. This allowed the campaign to successfully operate under the radar for years.”

The malicious code is first executed almost a month after the Nitrokod software was installed on the victim’s system, the infection chain analyzed by the researcher is composed of 6 stages.

The attackers used a scheduled tacks mechanism to implement delays between each stage of the infection chain.

The infection chain starts with the installation of a tainted program downloaded from the Internet. Upon executing the software, an actual Google Translate application is installed and an updated file is dropped which starts a series of four droppers until the actual malware is dropped.
Once the malicious code is executed, the malware connects to the C2 server to get the XMRig crypto miner configuration and starts mining crypto currencies.

Nitrokod infection chain

In order to avoid detection, the stage 5 dropper performs some checks to determine if the malicious code is running in a VM or if some security programs are installed on the infected machine. If one of the security software is found, the malicious program exits.

Check Point shared Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) for this campaign.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Nitrokod)

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