ChromeLoader – New Stubborn Malware Campaign

ChromeLoader is a multi-stage malware family. Each variant contains different stages throughout its infection chain, but the infection chain often looks quite similar among the different variants, including malicious browser extensions used in all variants.

The different payload extensions analysts tracked had a hardcoded version added by the attacker.
This labeling routine contributed to the research process, linking the different versions to the same campaign – and by their correct chronological order.

The various extension versions are related to different variants of this malware.
Analysts differentiate the variants not only by the related extension version but also by the techniques used throughout their infection chain and the targeted operating systems.

The different variants are mentioned in this article by their detection order and referenced throughout this document as follows:

Variant 0: Named that way since it was active before Variant 1. It used AutoHotKey (AHK)-compiled executables and version 1.0 of the Chrome extension.
Its first known attack occurred in December. In this article, this variant is discussed fourth (in the section titled “The Real First Windows Variant”).

Variant 1: It used versions 2.0-4.4 of the Chrome extension as its payload and a DotNet executable that launches obfuscated PowerShell as its dropper.
It was mainly active in January.

Variant 2: It uses the 6.0 version of the Chrome extension and uses an obfuscated executable as its initial dropper. It has been active since March.

MacOS Variant: This variant focuses on MacOS computers (while other variants target Windows users only). Uses the 6.0 version of the extension.

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