Colin Mc Hugo

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Colin Mc Hugo
Security Engineer Manager & CEO at Quantum Infinite Solutions Group Ltd.

BladeHawk group: Android espionage against Kurdish ethnic group

September 8, 2021

ESET researchers have investigated a focused cell espionage marketing campaign in opposition to the Kurdish ethnic group, and that has been lively since at the very least March 2020.

ESET researchers have investigated a focused cell espionage marketing campaign in opposition to the Kurdish ethnic group. This marketing campaign has been lively since at the very least March 2020, distributing (through devoted Fb profiles) two Android backdoors generally known as 888 RAT and SpyNote, disguised as legit apps. These profiles gave the impression to be offering Android information in Kurdish, and information for the Kurds’ supporters. Among the profiles intentionally unfold extra spying apps to Fb public teams with pro-Kurd content material. Knowledge from a obtain website signifies at the very least 1,481 downloads from URLs promoted in just some Fb posts.

The newly found Android 888 RAT has been utilized by the Kasablanka group and by BladeHawk. Each of them used various names to discuss with the identical Android RAT – LodaRAT and Gaza007 respectively.

BladeHawk Android espionage

The espionage exercise reported right here is straight related to 2 publicly disclosed instances printed in 2020. QiAnXin Risk Intelligence Middle named the group behind these assaults BladeHawk, which we’ve adopted. Each campaigns have been distributed through Fb, utilizing malware that was constructed with industrial, automated instruments (888 RAT and SpyNote), with all samples of the malware utilizing the identical C&C servers.


We recognized six Fb profiles as a part of this BladeHawk marketing campaign, sharing these Android spying apps. We reported these profiles to Fb they usually have all been taken down. Two of the profiles have been aimed toward tech customers whereas the opposite 4 posed as Kurd supporters. All these profiles have been created in 2020 and shortly after creation they began posting these faux apps. These accounts, aside from one, haven’t posted every other content material in addition to Android RATs masquerading as legit apps.

These profiles are additionally answerable for sharing espionage apps to Fb public teams, most of which have been supporters of Masoud Barzani, former President of the Kurdistan Area; an instance may be seen in Determine 1. Altogether, the focused teams have over 11,000 followers.

Determine 1. One of many Fb posts

In a single case, we noticed an try (Determine 2) to seize Snapchat credentials through a phishing web site (Determine 3).

Determine 2. Fb publish resulting in a Snapchat phishing website

Determine 3. Snapchat phishing web site

We recognized 28 distinctive posts as a part of this BladeHawk marketing campaign. Every of those posts contained faux app descriptions and hyperlinks to obtain an app, and we have been capable of obtain 17 distinctive APKs from these hyperlinks. Among the APK internet hyperlinks pointed on to the malicious app, whereas others pointed to the third-party add service, which tracks the variety of file downloads (see Determine 4). Due to that, we obtained the whole variety of downloads from for these eight apps. These eight apps have been downloaded altogether 1,481 occasions, from July 20, 2020 till June 28, 2021.

Determine 4. Details about one RAT pattern hosted on a third-party service


To our information, this marketing campaign focused solely Android customers, with the risk actors centered on two industrial Android RAT instruments – 888 RAT and SpyNote. We discovered just one pattern of the latter throughout our analysis. Because it was constructed utilizing an outdated, already analyzed SpyNote builder, right here we embrace solely the evaluation of the 888 RAT samples.

Android 888 RAT

This industrial, multiplatform RAT was initially solely printed for the Home windows ecosystem for $80. In June 2018, it was prolonged within the Professional model with the extra functionality to construct Android RATs ($150). Later, the Excessive model may create Linux payloads as effectively ($200).

It was offered through the developer’s web site at 888-tools[.]com (see Determine 5).

Determine 5. Worth for 888 RAT

In 2019 the Professional model (Home windows and Android) was discovered cracked (see Determine 6) and obtainable on just a few web sites free of charge.

Determine 6. Cracked model of 888 RAT builder

888 RAT has not been straight recognized with any organized campaigns earlier than; that is the primary time this RAT has been assigned as an indicator of a cyberespionage group.

Following this discovery, we have been capable of join the Android 888 RAT to 2 extra organized campaigns: Spy TikTok Professional described here and a marketing campaign by Kasablanka Group.


Android 888 RAT is able to executing 42 instructions acquired from its C&C server, as seen in Desk 1.

Briefly, it could actually steal and delete information from a tool, take screenshots, get system location, phish Fb credentials, get an inventory of put in apps, steal consumer photographs, take photographs, file surrounding audio and telephone calls, make calls, steal SMS messages, steal the system’s contact checklist, ship textual content messages, and so forth.

The builder can also be used because the C&C to manage all of the compromised units because it makes use of dynamic DNS to be reached by them.

Desk 1. Record of supported instructions

Command Performance
Unistxcr Show app particulars of specified app
dowsizetr Add file to server from /sdcard/DCIM/.dat/
DOWdeletx Delete file from /sdcard/DCIM/.dat/
Xr7aou Add binary file to server from /sdcard/DCIM/.dat/
Caspylistx Record information from /sdcard/DCIM/.dat/
spxcheck Verify whether or not name recording service is operating
S8p8y0 Cease name recording service
Sxpxy1 Allow name recording service
screXmex Take screenshot and add to server
Batrxiops Get battery degree
L4oclOCMAWS Get system location
FdelSRRT Delete file /sdcard/DCIM/.fdat (phished Fb credentials)
chkstzeaw Verify whether or not Fb app is put in
IODBSSUEEZ Add Fb credentials to C&C from /sdcard/DCIM/.fdat
GUIFXB Launch Fb phishing exercise
osEEs Get requested permissions of the desired utility
LUNAPXER Launch particular utility
Gapxplister Get checklist of purposes put in on the system
DOTRall8xxe Compress information in /sdcard/DCIM/.dat/ listing and add them to C&C
Acouxacour Get all system accounts
Fimxmiisx Take picture from digicam and add it to C&C
Scxreexcv4 Get details about system cameras
micmokmi8x File surrounding audio for the desired time
DTXXTEGE3 Delete particular file from /sdcard listing
ODDSEe Open particular URL in default browser
Yufsssp Get Exif data from particular media file
getsssspo Get information about whether or not a particular file exists on system
DXCXIXM Get names of all photographs saved in /sdcard/DCIM/
f5iledowqqww Add particular file from /sdcard/ listing
GExCaalsss7 Get name logs from system
SDgex8se Record information from particular listing from /sdcard
PHOCAs7 Make name to specified quantity
Gxextsxms Get SMS inbox
Msppossag Ship SMS message to specified quantity
Getconstactx Get contacts
Rinxgosa Play ringtone for six seconds
Shetermix Execute shell command
bithsssp64 Execute shell script
Deldatall8 Cleanup, take away all /sdcard/DCIM/.dat information
pvvvoze Get IP handle
paltexw Get TTL from PING command
M0xSSw9 Show particular Toast message to consumer

An essential issue when figuring out 888 RAT is the bundle identify of the payload. The bundle identify of each construct of an Android payload is just not customized or random; it at all times makes use of the com.instance.dat.a8andoserverx bundle ID. Due to this, it’s straightforward to determine such samples as 888 RAT.

In later variations of the 888 RAT (not the cracked RAT builder), we observed that the builder was able to obfuscating strings (command strings, C&C, and different plain textual content strings) by encrypting them utilizing AES with a hardcoded key; nevertheless, the bundle identify nonetheless remained the identical.


888 RAT makes use of a customized IP protocol and port (it doesn’t must be normal ports). Compromised units are managed straight from the builder GUI.

Fb phishing

When this performance is triggered, 888 RAT will deploy phishing exercise that seems to be coming from the legit Fb app. When the consumer faucets on the current apps button, this exercise will appear legit, as seen in Determine 7. Nevertheless, after a protracted press on this app’s icon, as in Determine 8, the true app identify answerable for the Fb login request is disclosed.

Determine 7. Phishing request seen from the current app menu

Determine 8. Actual utility identify answerable for phishing


Since 2018, ESET merchandise have recognized a whole bunch of situations of Android units the place the 888 RAT was deployed. Determine 9 presents the nation distribution of this detection information.

Determine 9. Detection of Android 888 RAT by nation


This espionage marketing campaign has been lively since March 2020 aiming solely at Android units. It focused the Kurdish ethnic group by at the very least 28 malicious Fb posts that may lead potential victims to obtain Android 888 RAT or SpyNote. Many of the malicious Fb posts led to downloads of the industrial, multiplatform 888 RAT, which has been obtainable on the black market since 2018. In 2019, a cracked copy of the Professional model of the 888 RAT builder was made obtainable from just a few web sites, and since then, we detected a whole bunch of instances all all over the world utilizing the Android 888 RAT.


Information and ESET detection names

SHA-1 Detection identify
87D44633F99A94C9B5F29F3FE75D04B2AB2508BA Android/Spy.Agent.APU
E47AB984C0EC7872B458AAD803BE637F3EE6F3CA Android/Spy.Agent.APG
9A8E5BAD246FC7B3D844BB434E8F697BE4A7A703 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
FED42AB6665649787C6D6164A6787B13513B4A41 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
8E2636F690CF67F44684887EB473A38398234430 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
F0751F2715BEA20A6D5CD7E9792DBA0FA45394A5 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
60280E2F6B940D5CBDC3D538E2B83751DB082F46 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
F26ADA23739366B9EBBF08BABD5000023921465C Android/Spy.Agent.APU
4EBEED1CFAC3FE5A290FA5BF37E6C6072A6869A7 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
A15F67430000E3F6B88CD965A01239066C0D23B3 Android/Spy.Agent.BII
425AC620A0BB584D59303A62067CC6663C76A65D Android/Spy.Agent.APU
4159E3A4BD99067A5F8025FC59473AC53E07B213 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
EF9D9BF1876270393615A21AB3917FCBE91BFC60 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
231296E505BC40FFE7D308D528A3664BFFF069E4 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
906AD75A05E4581A6D0E3984AD0E6524C235A592 Android/Spy.Agent.APU
43F36C86BBD370884E77DFD496FD918A2D9E023D Android/Spy.Agent.APU
8B03CE129F6B1A913B6B143BB883FC79C2DF1904 Android/Spy.Agent.APU

Fb profiles


Fb teams


Distribution hyperlinks


Phishing hyperlinks


MITRE ATT&CK methods

This desk solely covers TTPs for 888 RAT, and was constructed utilizing version 9 of the ATT&CK framework.

Tactic ID Identify Description
Preliminary Entry T1444 Masquerade as Legit Software The 888 RAT impersonates legit purposes.
Persistence T1402 Broadcast Receivers The 888 RAT listens for the BOOT_COMPLETED broadcast, guaranteeing that the app’s performance might be activated each time the system begins.
Protection Evasion T1508 Suppress Software Icon The 888 RAT hides its icon.
T1447 Delete Gadget Knowledge The 888 RAT can delete gathered and short-term saved information and every other particular file.
Credential Entry T1411 Enter Immediate The 888 RAT tries to phish Fb credentials.
Discovery T1418 Software Discovery The 888 RAT obtains an inventory of put in apps.
T1420 File and Listing Discovery The 888 RAT identifies content material of particular directories.
Assortment T1433 Entry Name Log The 888 RAT exfiltrates name log historical past.
T1430 Location Monitoring The 888 RAT retrieves system location.
T1432 Entry Contact Record The 888 RAT exfiltrates the sufferer’s contact checklist.
T1429 Seize Audio The 888 RAT can file audio from environment and calls.
T1512 Seize Digicam The 888 RAT can take photos from the entrance or rear cameras.
T1412 Seize SMS Messages The 888 RAT can exfiltrate despatched and acquired SMS messages.
T1533 Knowledge from Native System The 888 RAT exfiltrates information with specific extensions from exterior media.
T1513 Display screen Seize The 888 RAT can take screenshots.
Command And Management T1509 Uncommonly Used Port The 888 RAT communicates with its C&C over port 4000.
Affect T1582 SMS Management The 888 RAT adversary can ship SMS messages.
T1447 Delete Gadget Knowledge The 888 RAT can delete attacker-specified information from the system.


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