CISA and the FBI issued a joint warning yesterday about the escalating threat posed by Androxgh0st malware, emphasizing the creation of a cloud-focused botnet designed for stealing credentials and delivering additional malicious payloads. Lacework Labs initially identified this botnet in 2022, indicating its potential severity, with data from Fortiguard Labs revealing control over 40,000 devices almost a year ago. Androxgh0st operates by scanning for vulnerabilities in widely-used frameworks, such as PHPUnit, Apache, and Laravel, exploiting them to compromise .env files containing sensitive information.
The Python-scripted Androxgh0st malware specifically targets .env files, housing confidential data like credentials for major applications such as AWS, Microsoft Office 365, SendGrid, and Twilio within the Laravel web application framework. The malware’s capabilities extend to abusing the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), enabling threat actors to scan and exploit exposed credentials and APIs, and deploy web shells. Stolen credentials, particularly from Twilio and SendGrid, are weaponized for conducting spam campaigns, allowing threat actors to impersonate breached companies and potentially cause widespread damage.
Androxgh0st’s operators demonstrate versatility in their malicious activities, utilizing compromised websites to create fake pages that serve as backdoors for accessing databases with sensitive information. Furthermore, they exploit compromised AWS credentials to create new users and user policies, showcasing the malware’s sophisticated tactics. The FBI and CISA have provided detailed mitigation measures for network defenders, emphasizing the importance of keeping systems up to date, securing configurations, and regularly reviewing and revoking cloud credentials. The agencies also called for information on Androxgh0st from organizations detecting suspicious or criminal activity linked to this threat, highlighting the collaborative effort needed to counter this evolving cybersecurity risk.