Digital attackers used a stain of crypto malware called ‘AppleJeus’ to steal cryptocurrency.
In a joint advisory published by the FBI and the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned that the Hidden Cobra threat group was using AppleJeus to target cryptocurrency exchanges, finance service companies and similar entities.
The malicious actors used trojanized versions of cryptocurrency trading apps to spread the crypto malware. From there, they could prey upon businesses and steal cryptocurrency from specific users’ wallets.
Read on to learn about the many times AppleJeus has appeared over the past few years.
The Seven Known Faces of AppleJeus
CISA used open-source techniques and other means to spot seven instances of Hidden Cobra’s AppleJeus crypto malware.
The first version emerged in August 2018. A version of a cryptocurrency trading app bearing the trojan infected an undisclosed victim’s computer. Bearing the name Celas Trade Pro, AppleJeus infected the victim with FALLCHILL. This remote administration tool let attackers remotely issue commands using a command-and-control server.
Next, CISA found that a phishing email from an LLC company had helped to distribute the trojan in the app.
The second instance of AppleJeus arrived more than a year later, in October 2019. At that time, a company called ‘JMT Trading’ marketed and spread the crypto malware. They claimed it was a cryptocurrency trading app. A download button on the website linked to the company’s GitHub page. There, victims could download the Windows and macOS versions of the crypto malware.
Crypto Malware Hides in Fake Trading Apps
Later that same year, a cybersecurity company formally detected the third iteration of AppleJeus. This time it was hiding inside a cryptocurrency trading app pushed out by a company called ‘Union Crypto’. The researchers did not spot any download links on the company’s website at the time of their work. However, a malware researcher discovered a download link that led to the macOS version. Meanwhile, open-source reporting suggested that the Windows version might have spread on Telegram channels.
The fourth version of the crypto malware arrived in March 2020. As with the cases described above, the malware relied on a fake company for distribution — Kupay Wallet, in this instance. The fake company’s domain used a valid SSL certificate at the time of the research. This might have been an attempt to lull visitors into a false sense of safety. But the certificate was only domain-control validated. That means the domain owners didn’t need to validate their identity or the actual business’s existence.
Two other fake companies called ‘CoinGoTrade’ and ‘Dorusio’ pushed out apps containing AppleJeus crypto malware at around the same time. Both of those entities also used a domain control validated SSL certificate, though the download…