Trickbot, a sophisticated trojan that has evolved significantly since its discovery in 2016, has continually expanded its capabilities and, even withdisruption effortsand news of its infrastructure going offline, it has managed to remain one of the most persistent threats in recent years. The malware’s modular nature has allowed it to be increasingly adaptable to different networks, environments, and devices. In addition, it has grown to include numerous plug-ins, access-as-a-service backdoors for other malware like Ryuk ransomware, and mining capabilities. A significant part of its evolution also includes making its attacks and infrastructure more durable against detection, including continuously improving its persistence capabilities,evading researchers and reverse engineering, and finding new ways to maintain the stability of its command-and-control (C2) framework.
This continuous evolution has seen Trickbot expand its reach from computers to Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as routers, with the malware updating its C2 infrastructure toutilize MikroTik devices and modules.MikroTikrouters are widely used around the world across different industries. By using MikroTik routers as proxy servers for its C2 servers and redirecting the traffic through non-standard ports, Trickbot adds another persistence layer that helps malicious IPs evade detection by standard security systems.
The Microsoft Defender for IoT research team has recently discovered the exact method through which MikroTik devices are used in Trickbot’s C2 infrastructure. In this blog, we will share our analysis of the said method and provide insights on how attackers gain access to MikroTik devices and use compromised IoT devices in Trickbot attacks.
This analysis has enabled us to develop a forensic tool to identify Trickbot-related compromise and other suspicious indicators on MikroTik devices. Wepublished this toolto help customers ensure these IoT devices are not susceptible to these attacks. We’re also sharing recommended steps for detection and remediating compromise if found, as well as general prevention steps to protect against future attacks.