A new financial malware named ‘JanelaRAT’ has emerged, with its sights set on targeting users in Latin America (LATAM). This sophisticated malware is designed to compromise Microsoft Windows systems and covertly capture sensitive information.
Researchers from Zscaler ThreatLabz have unveiled that JanelaRAT is primarily aimed at extracting financial and cryptocurrency data from bank and financial institutions across LATAM. To evade detection, the malware utilizes DLL side-loading techniques borrowed from legitimate sources such as VMWare and Microsoft.
While the exact entry point of the infection chain remains uncertain, cybersecurity experts discovered the campaign in June 2023. It involves the delivery of a ZIP archive file containing a Visual Basic Script, engineered to retrieve a second ZIP archive from the attackers’ server and initiate the persistence of the malware through a batch file.
The ZIP archive houses both the JanelaRAT payload and a legitimate executable, either identity_helper.exe or vmnat.exe, enabling the launch of the malware through DLL side-loading. JanelaRAT exhibits advanced features like string encryption, idling to avoid analysis, and capturing window titles, which are sent to threat actors after registering the infected host with a command-and-control server. This Trojan is a modified variant of BX RAT, originally discovered in 2014.
Further analysis of the source code reveals Portuguese strings, indicating the author’s familiarity with the language. The malware’s focus on LATAM is evident through references to banking and decentralized finance organizations, alongside VBScript uploads to VirusTotal originating from Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.
The researchers emphasize that the use of original or modified Remote Access Trojans (RATs) is a common strategy among threat actors operating in the LATAM region. JanelaRAT’s targeted approach and its technique of extracting window titles for transmission highlight its stealthy and directed nature.