Large Crypto-Mining Operation Targeting Jenkins CI Servers

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ionut Arghire

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A large malicious crypto-mining operation has recently started targeting the powerful Jenkins CI server, Check Point security researchers have discovered.

Dubbed JenkinsMiner, the attack attempts to exploit the CVE-2017-1000353 vulnerability in the Jenkins Java deserialization implementation and to install a mining application designed to mine for the Monero crypto-currency.

The actor behind this campaign is allegedly of Chinese origin and was previously observed targeting many Windows versions to maliciously install the XMRig miner on them. This has allowed it to already secure over $3 million worth of Monero.

However, it appears that the actor has decided to expand its operation to the Jenkins CI server, which allows it to generate even more coins. Because of that, the attack has the potential to become the largest malicious crypto-mining campaign ever, Check Point says.

The same as the recently detailed RubyMiner attack, JenkinsMiner can prove highly lucrative, but could also have a negative impact on the compromised servers. Once a resource becomes infected with a crypto-miner, sluggish performance and even denial of service (DoS) are to be expected.

The attack is targeting a critical vulnerability in Jenkins, the most popular open source automation server, with over 133,000 installations globally. The security flaw is created because of lack of validation of the serialized object and allows for any serialized object to be accepted.

The bug was addressed in early 2017 with the release of Jenkins 2.57 and 2.46.2 (LTS), but any unpatched system remains vulnerable to the attack.

As part of the newly discovered attack, 2 subsequent requests are sent to the CLI interface. The second request, matched by the session header, contains two main objects: the Capability object to inform the server of the client capabilities, and the Command object with the Monero miner payload.

The injected code includes a hidden PowerShell initiation to allow the script to run in the background, a variable (using case-sensitive diversion) to attempt to evade security products, a command to download the miner from the attacker’s server, and a start command to execute the miner.

Over the past months, the campaign was observed targeting victims all around the world with a mixture of malware that also included a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) in addition to the XMRig miner.

“The miner is capable of running on many platforms and Windows versions, and it seems like most of the victims so far are personal computers. With every campaign, the malware has gone through several updates and the mining pool used to transfer the profits is also changed,” Check Point reports.

Because the campaign’s operator only appears to be using a single wallet for all deposits and does not change it from one attack to the next, the security researchers determined that they managed to mine $3 million to date. Other than that, the attack is “well operated and maintained, and many mining-pools are used to collect the profits out of the infected machines,” the researchers note.

Related: Crypto-Mining Attack Targets Web Servers Globally

Related: Monero Miner Infects Hundreds of Windows Servers

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