The Racoon Stealer is a relatively new form of malware that was first detected in April 2019. The malware is not sophisticated, it does not incorporate any never before seen features, in fact it is pretty unremarkable. The Racoon Stealer can take screenshots, harvest system information, monitor emails, and steal information from browsers, such as passwords, online banking credentials, and credit card numbers.

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However, the malware is effective and very popular. In the past six months, the Racoon Stealer has been installed on hundreds of thousands of Windows devices and it is now one of the most talked about malware variants on underground forums.

What makes the Racoon Stealer stand out is a highly aggressive marketing campaign aimed at signing up as many affiliates as possible. Racoon is being marketed as malware-as-a-service on underground forums and affiliates can sign up to use the malware for a flat fee of $200 per month.

The information stealer can be used to steal a range of sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and cryptocurrencies. Under this distribution model, affiliates do not have to develop their own malware, and little skill is required to start conducting campaigns. The malware developers are also providing bulletproof hosting and are available to give affiliates support 24/7/365, and the package comes with an easy to use backend system.

While the cost is certainly high compared to other malware-as-a-service and ransomware-as-a-service offerings, affiliates are likely to make that back and much more from the information that they can steal. There is no shortage of takers.

How is the Racoon Stealer Being Distributed?

Affiliates are distributing the Racoon Stealer via phishing emails containing Office and PDF files that incorporate code that downloads the Racoon payload. The information stealer has been bundled with software on third-party websites, although a large percentage of the infections come from exploit kits.

The Racoon Stealer has been added to both the Fallout and Rig exploit kits which are loaded onto compromised websites and attacker-owned domains. Traffic is sent to those sites via malicious adverts on third party ad networks (malvertising).

When a user lands on a webpage hosting an exploit kit, their device is probed for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. If a vulnerability is found it is exploited and the Racoon Stealer is silently downloaded.

Once installed, Racoon connects to its C2 server and the resources required to start stealing information are obtained, that information can be sold on darknet marketplaces or used by affiliates to conduct their own attacks.

Given the huge potential for profit, it is no surprise that malware developers are now opting for this business model. The problem is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better and the threat from these malware-as-a-service offerings is significant.

How to Block the Racoon Stealer and Other Web and Email Threats

Fortunately, there are steps that businesses can take to improve their defenses against these MaaS campaigns.

Exploit kits usually incorporate exploits for a small number of known vulnerabilities rather than zero-day vulnerabilities for which no patches have been released. To block these exploit kit attacks, businesses need to apply patches and update software promptly.

It is not always possible for businesses to apply patches promptly as extensive testing may be necessary before the patches can be applied. Some devices may be skipped – accidentally or deliberately due to compatibility issues. Those devices will remain vulnerable to attack.

Patching is important, but it will not stop drive-by malware downloads from the internet that do not involve exploit kits. What is therefore required is a web security solution that can block access to malicious sites and prevent downloads of risky file types.

A DNS filtering solution such as WebTitan provides an additional layer of security to block these web-based threats. Through a combination of blacklists, content control, and scanning websites for malicious content, businesses can protect themselves against web-based attacks. A DNS filter will also prevent employees from visiting websites used for phishing.

Blocking attacks that take place via email requires strong email security defenses. An advanced spam filter such as SpamTitan can prevent malicious emails and attachments from reaching end users’ inboxes. SpamTitan scans all incoming emails for malware using two anti-virus engines but is also effective at blocking zero-day threats. SpamTitan includes a Bitdefender-powered sandbox, where suspicious attachments are subjected to in-depth analysis to identify any potentially malicious actions.

With these two solutions in place, businesses will be well protected from malware threats and phishing attacks and managed service providers can ensure their environment and those of their clients are kept malware free.

To find out more about these two powerful anti-malware solutions and to discover why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security for the managed service provider serving the SMB market, give the TitanHQ team a call.