Vulnerable Docker instances targeted in cryptocurrency mining campaign

Unknown hackers have launched a new campaign that is actively scanning for vulnerable Docker instances to inject cryptomining code.

Discovered by cybersecurity firm Bad Packets LLC, the group is actively scanning for vulnerable Docker instances that have application programming interface endpoints exposed to the internet. While efforts by hackers to find and hijack servers are regular, this case is specifically notable due to the volume, with those behind it scanning over 59,000 IP networks in an attempt to identify vulnerable instances.

“What set this campaign apart was the large uptick of scanning activity. This alone warranted further investigation to find out what this botnet was up to,” Troy Mursch, chief research officer and co-founder of Bad Packets told ZDNet. “This isn’t your average script kiddie exploit attempt… there was a moderate level of effort put into this campaign, and we haven’t fully analyzed every single thing it does as of yet.

Once a vulnerable Docker instance is located, a command is run to install the XMRRig script that hijacks the server to mine for the Monero cryptocurrency.

Monero has long been the favorite cryptocurrency of hackers. Unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that use a public blockchain making transactions traceable, Monero is private and difficult if not nearly impossible to trace.

This isn’t the first time Docker has been targeted by those attempting to install cryptomining code. In March, unpatched Docker hosts were targeted using a runC vulnerability with access also gained by Docker’s remote API being open and public with Monero mining software installed. Last month, a cryptojacking worm dubbed “Gradoid” was spotted in the wild after spreading to more than 2,000 unsecured Docker hosts. If this sounds repetitive it should – the hackers exploited Docker vulnerabilities to install Monero cryptomining code.

In this new campaign, as of Nov. 26 the miners may have been actively scanning but were yet to seriously profit. Mursch estimates that have only managed to mine 14.82 Monero (XMR) worth around $832.

Users who run Docker instances are being advised to check if they are exposing their API endpoints and if they are, close the ports and terminate unrecognized running containers.

Image: 159526894@N02/Flickr

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