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Cryptocurrency miners aren’t dead yet: Documenting the voracious but simple “Panda”

By Christopher Evans and David Liebenberg.

Executive summary

A new threat actor named “Panda” has generated thousands of dollars worth of the Monero cryptocurrency through the use of remote access tools (RATs) and illicit cryptocurrency-mining malware. This is far from the most sophisticated actor we’ve ever seen, but it still has been one of the most active attackers we’ve seen in Cisco Talos threat trap data. Panda’s willingness to persistently exploit vulnerable web applications worldwide, their tools allowing them to traverse throughout networks, and their use of RATs, means that organizations worldwide are at risk of having their system resources misused for mining purposes or worse, such as exfiltration of valuable information. 

Panda has shown time and again they will update their infrastructure and exploits on the fly as security researchers publicize indicators of compromises and proof of concepts. Our threat traps show that Panda uses exploits previously used by Shadow Brokers — a group infamous for publishing information from the National Security Agency — and Mimikatz, an open-source credential-dumping program.

Talos first became aware of Panda in the summer of 2018, when they were engaging in the successful and widespread “MassMiner” campaign. Shortly thereafter, we linked Panda to another widespread illicit mining campaign with a different set of command and control (C2) servers. Since then, this actor has updated its infrastructure, exploits and payloads. We believe Panda is a legitimate threat capable of spreading cryptocurrency miners that can use up valuable computing resources and slow down networks and systems. Talos confirmed that organizations in the banking, healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, IT services industries were affected in these campaigns.