A new and innovative campaign has emerged wherein attackers target vulnerable Docker services, implementing a dual monetization approach by deploying both an XMRig miner and the 9hits viewer app on compromised hosts. The 9hits app, commonly used for web traffic exchange, is repurposed to generate credits for the attackers by exploiting the compromised system’s resources within the 9hits traffic exchange system. Simultaneously, the XMRig miner operates to mine Monero cryptocurrency for the attackers, utilizing the cloud system’s resources. This campaign, discovered by Cado Security, showcases attackers exploring alternative monetization channels beyond traditional methods like cryptomining, demonstrating a diversified and covert approach.
While the specific method of how threat actors identify vulnerable systems remains unclear, it is suggested that network scanning tools like Shodan may be employed to discover susceptible servers for exploitation. Once identified, attackers breach the servers and deploy malicious containers using the Docker API. The containers, sourced from Dockerhub to reduce suspicion, run the 9hits viewer app and XMRig miner, with the former generating credits for the attackers and the latter mining cryptocurrency. The utilization of a session token system allows the attackers to securely authenticate and generate profit without risking detection or being banned from the 9hits system.
Cado Security’s findings highlight the impact of this campaign on compromised hosts, leading to resource exhaustion as the XMRig miner consumes available CPU resources, while the 9hits app consumes significant bandwidth, memory, and remaining CPU. Legitimate workloads on infected servers are severely disrupted. The campaign underscores the continuous exploration of alternative monetization avenues by threat actors, emphasizing the need for stricter security checks and policies on platforms like 9hits to prevent unauthorized use that could cause financial damage and disruptions to organizations. Entities relying on cloud computing environments are advised to adopt zero-trust models and employ Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP) and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) for enhanced visibility, configuration management, and asset protection.