November 2023’s Most Wanted Malware: New AsyncRAT Campaign Discovered while FakeUpdates Re-Entered the Top Ten after Brief Hiatus

Researchers reported on a new AsyncRAT campaign where malicious HTML files were being used to spread the stealthy malware. Meanwhile, downloader FakeUpdates jumped straight into second place after a short break from the top ten list


14th December 2023 Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, has published its Global Threat Index for November 2023. Last month, researchers discovered a new AsyncRAT campaign where malicious HTML files were used to spread the covert malware. Meanwhile, JavaScript downloader, FakeUpdates, jumped straight into second place after a two-month hiatus from the top ten list, and Education remained the most impacted industry worldwide.

AsyncRAT is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) known for its ability to remotely monitor and control computer systems without detection. The malware, which came in sixth place on last month’s top ten list, utilizes various file formats such as PowerShell and BAT to carry out process injection. In last month’s campaign, recipients received an email containing an embedded link. Once clicked, the link triggered a malicious HTML file to be downloaded, which then prompted a sequence of events that meant that the malware could camouflage itself as a trusted application to avoid detection.

Meantime, downloader, FakeUpdates, re-entered the top malware list after a two-month break. Written in JavaScript, the malware distribution framework deploys compromised websites to trick users into running fake browser updates. It has led to further compromise through many other malwares including GootLoader, Dridex, NetSupport, DoppelPaymer, and AZORult.

“November’s cyber threats demonstrate how threat actors leverage seemingly innocuous methods to infiltrate networks. The rise of the AsyncRAT campaign and the resurgence of FakeUpdates highlight a trend where attackers use deceptive simplicity to bypass traditional defenses. This underscores the need for organizations to adopt a layered security approach that doesn’t just rely on recognizing known threats, but also has the capability to identify, prevent and respond to novel attack vectors before they inflict harm,” said Maya Horowitz, VP Research at Check Point Software.

CPR also revealed that “Command Injection Over HTTP” was the most exploited vulnerability, impacting 45% of organizations globally, followed by “Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal” with 42%. “Zyxel ZyWALL Command Injection (CVE-2023-28771)” came in third with a global impact of 41%


Top malware families

*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month.


Formbook was the most prevalent malware last month with an impact of 3% worldwide organizations, followed by FakeUpdates with a global impact of 2%, and Remcos with a global impact of 1%.


1. Formbook – Formbook is an Infostealer targeting the Windows OS and was first detected in 2016. It is marketed as Malware as a Service (MaaS) in underground hacking forums for its strong evasion techniques and relatively low price. FormBook harvests credentials from various web browsers, collects screenshots, monitors and logs keystrokes, and can download and execute files according to orders from its C&C.


2. FakeUpdates – FakeUpdates (AKA SocGholish) is a downloader written in JavaScript. It writes the payloads to disk prior to launching them. FakeUpdates led to further compromise via many additional malwares, including GootLoader, Dridex, NetSupport, DoppelPaymer, and AZORult.


3.  Remcos – Remcos is a RAT that first appeared in the wild in 2016. Remcos distributes itself through malicious Microsoft Office documents, which are attached to spam emails, and is designed to bypass Microsoft Windows UAC security and execute malware with high-level privileges.


Top Attacked Industries Globally

Last month Education/Research remained in first place as the most attacked industry globally, followed by Communications and Government/Military.


  1. Education/Research
  2. Communications
  3. Government/Military


Top exploited vulnerabilities 

Last month, Command Injection Over HTTP was the most exploited vulnerability, impacting 45% of organizations globally, followed by Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal with 42% of organizations worldwide. Zyxel ZyWALL Command Injection (CVE-2023-28771) came in third with a global impact of 41%.


1. Command Injection Over HTTP (CVE-2021-43936, CVE-2022-24086) – A command Injection over HTTP vulnerability has been reported. A remote attacker can exploit this issue by sending a specially crafted request to the victim. Successful exploitation would allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target machine.


2. Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal (CVE-2010-4598,CVE-2011-2474,CVE-2014-0130,CVE-2014-0780,CVE-2015-0666,CVE-2015-4068,CVE-2015-7254,CVE-2016-4523,CVE-2016-8530,CVE-2017-11512,CVE-2018-3948,CVE-2018-3949,CVE-2019-18952,CVE-2020-5410,CVE-2020-8260) – There exists a directory traversal vulnerability on different web servers. The vulnerability is due to an input validation error in a web server that does not properly sanitize the URI for the directory traversal patterns. Successful exploitation allows unauthenticated remote attackers to disclose or access arbitrary files on the vulnerable server.

3. Zyxel ZyWALL Command Injection (CVE-2023-28771) – A command injection vulnerability exists in Zyxel ZyWALL. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands in the effected system.


Top Mobile Malwares

Last month Anubis remained in first place as the most prevalent mobile malware, followed by AhMyth and SpinOk.


1. Anubis – Anubis is a banking Trojan malware designed for Android mobile phones. Since it was initially detected, it has gained additional functions including Remote Access Trojan (RAT) functionality, keylogger, audio recording capabilities and various ransomware features. It has been detected on hundreds of different applications available in the Google Store.


2. AhMyth – AhMyth is a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) discovered in 2017. It is distributed through Android apps that can be found on app stores and various websites. When a user installs one of these infected apps, the malware can collect sensitive information from the device and perform actions such as keylogging, taking screenshots, sending SMS messages, and activating the camera, which is usually used to steal sensitive information.


3. SpinOk – SpinOk is an Android software module that operates as spyware. It collects information about files stored on devices and can transfer them to malicious threat actors. The malicious module was found present in more than 100 Android apps and downloaded more than 421,000,000 times until May 2023.


Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map are powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence. ThreatCloud provides real-time threat intelligence derived from hundreds of millions of sensors worldwide, over networks, endpoints and mobiles. The intelligence is enriched with AI-based engines and exclusive research data from Check Point Research, the intelligence and research arm of Check Point Software Technologies.

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