Wikileaks Unveils CIA Implants that Steal SSH Credentials from Windows & Linux PCs

Thursday

WikiLeaks has today published the 15th batch of its ongoing Vault 7 leak, this time detailing two alleged CIA implants that allowed the agency to intercept and exfiltrate SSH (Secure Shell) credentials from targeted Windows and Linux operating systems using different attack vectors.

Secure Shell or SSH is a cryptographic network protocol used for remote login to machines and servers securely over an unsecured network.

Dubbed BothanSpy — implant for Microsoft Windows Xshell client, and Gyrfalcon — targets the OpenSSH client on various distributions of Linux OS, including CentOS, Debian, RHEL (Red Hat), openSUSE and Ubuntu.

Both implants steal user credentials for all active SSH sessions and then sends them to a CIA-controlled server.

BothanSpy — Implant for Windows OS

BothanSpy is installed as a Shellterm 3.x extension on the target machine and only works if Xshell is running on it with active sessions.

Xshell is a powerful terminal emulator that supports SSH, SFTP, TELNET, RLOGIN and SERIAL for delivering industry leading features including dynamic port forwarding, custom key mapping, user defined buttons, and VB scripting.

“In order to use BothanSpy against targets running a x64 version of Windows, the loader being used must support Wow64 injection,” the leaked CIA user manual reads. 

“Xshell only comes as a x86 binary, and thus BothanSpy is only compiled as x86. Shellterm 3.0+ supports Wow64 injection, and Shellterm is highly recommended.”

Gyrfalcon — Implant for Linux OS

wikileaks-cia-ssh-hacking-tool

Gyrfalcon targets Linux systems (32 or 64-bit kernel) using a CIA-developed JQC/KitV rootkit for persistent access.

Gyrfalcon is also capable of collecting full or partial OpenSSH session traffic, and stores stolen information in an encrypted file for later exfiltration.

“The tool runs in an automated fashion. It is configured in advance, executed on the remote host and left running,” the user manual of Gyrfalcon v1.0 reads. 

“Sometime later, the operator returns and commands gyrfalcon to flush all of its collection to disk. The operator retrieves the collection file, decrypts it, and analyzes the collected data.”

The user manual for Gyrfalcon v2.0 says that the implant is consist of “two compiled binaries that should be uploaded to the target platform along with the encrypted configuration file.”

“Gyrfalcon does not provide any communication services between the local operator computer and target platform. The operator must use a third-party application to upload these three files to the target platform.”

Previous Vault 7 CIA Leaks

Last week, WikiLeaks dumped a classified CIA project that allowed the spying agency to hack and remotely spy on PCs running the Linux operating systems.

Dubbed OutlawCountry, the project lets the CIA hackers redirect all outbound network traffic on the targeted machine to CIA controlled computer systems for exfiltrate and infiltrate data.

Since March, the whistleblowing group has published 15 batches of “Vault 7” series, which includes the latest and last week leaks, along with the following batches:

  • ELSA – the alleged CIA malware that tracks geo-location of targeted PCs and laptops running the Microsoft Windows operating system.
  • Brutal Kangaroo – A tool suite for Microsoft Windows used by the agency to targets closed networks or air-gapped computer systems within an organization or enterprise without requiring any direct access.
  • Cherry Blossom – An agency’s framework, basically a remotely controllable firmware-based implant, used for spying on the Internet activity of the targeted systems by exploiting flaws in WiFi devices.
  • Pandemic – The agency’s project that let it turn Windows file servers into covert attack machines that can silently infect other computers of interest inside a targeted network.
  • Athena – A spyware framework that has been designed by CIA to take full control over the infected Windows machines remotely, and works against every version of Windows OS, from Windows XP to Windows 10.
  • AfterMidnight and Assassin – Two alleged CIA malware frameworks for the Microsoft Windows platform that has been designed to monitor actions on the infected remote host computer and execute malicious actions.
  • Archimedes – Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack tool allegedly created by the CIA to target computers inside a Local Area Network (LAN).
  • Scribbles – Software allegedly designed to embed ‘web beacons’ into confidential documents, allowing the spying agency to track insiders and whistleblowers.
  • Grasshopper – Framework which allowed the agency to easily create custom malware for breaking into Microsoft’s Windows and bypassing antivirus protection.
  • Marble – Source code of a secret anti-forensic framework used by the agency to hide the actual source of its malware.
  • Dark Matter – Hacking exploits the agency designed to target iPhones and Macs.
  • Weeping Angel – Spying tool used by the agency to infiltrate smart TV’s, transforming them into covert microphones.
  • Year Zero – Alleged CIA hacking exploits for popular hardware and software.

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