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Understanding the Commando Cat Cryptojacking Attack

How It Works, Who’s Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself

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The Commando Cat Cryptojacking Attack

Understanding the Commando Cat Cryptojacking Attack: How It Works, Who’s Vulnerable, and How to Protect Yourself

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats, a new attack campaign named "Commando Cat" has emerged, targeting misconfigured Docker instances to deploy cryptojacking scripts. This blog post delves into the specifics of this attack, how it operates, the vulnerabilities it exploits, and how organizations can protect themselves.

What is the Commando Cat Attack?

Commando Cat is a sophisticated cryptojacking campaign that leverages poorly secured Docker instances to deploy cryptocurrency miners. The attackers use a Docker image named cmd.cat/chattr, which retrieves the payload from their own command-and-control (C&C) infrastructure​​.

How the Attack Works

  1. Exploitation of Misconfigured Docker APIs:

    • The attackers scan for misconfigured Docker remote API servers. Once they identify a vulnerable instance, they deploy the cmd.cat/chattr Docker image​​.

  2. Payload Deployment:

    • This Docker image is used as a base to instantiate a container and then break out of its confines using the chroot command, which allows them to gain access to the host operating system​​.

  3. Cryptominer Installation:

    • The final step involves downloading a malicious miner binary using curl or wget from the C&C server. The binary is suspected to be ZiggyStarTux, an open-source IRC bot based on the Kaiten (aka Tsunami) malware​​.

Vulnerabilities Exploited

The Commando Cat campaign exploits vulnerabilities primarily in Docker and ThinkPHP applications. Specifically, it takes advantage of:

  • CVE-2018-20062: This vulnerability allows remote code execution in ThinkPHP applications, which can be exploited to install web shells​​.

  • CVE-2019-9082: Another ThinkPHP remote code execution vulnerability that enables attackers to inject and execute arbitrary code on the affected server​​​​.

Who is Vulnerable?

Organizations using Docker and ThinkPHP with misconfigured or unpatched instances are at significant risk.

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How to Protect Yourself

To mitigate the risk of falling victim to the Commando Cat attack, consider implementing the following security measures:

  1. Secure Docker Configurations:

    • Ensure Docker API is not exposed to the internet.

    • Use firewall rules to restrict access to Docker daemon.

    • Regularly update Docker and its components to the latest versions.

  2. Patch ThinkPHP Vulnerabilities:

    • Apply security patches for ThinkPHP applications as soon as they are released.

    • Regularly audit and update third-party libraries and frameworks used in development.

  3. Implement Network Security Measures:

    • Use intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS) to monitor for suspicious activities.

    • Employ network segmentation to limit the spread of an attack if a container is compromised.

  4. Monitor and Audit Logs:

    • Continuously monitor logs for unusual activity that could indicate an attempted or successful compromise.

    • Implement automated tools to alert administrators of potential security incidents.

  5. Regular Security Training:

    • Educate staff about the latest security threats and best practices.

    • Conduct regular security drills and audits to ensure compliance with security policies.

By staying informed and proactive, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of being targeted by cryptojacking attacks like Commando Cat. Ensuring robust security practices and timely patching of vulnerabilities are critical steps in defending against these sophisticated threats.

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