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posted by janrinok on Sunday February 25, @11:03AM   Printer-friendly

Cybercriminals Weaponizing Open-Source SSH-Snake Tool for Network Attacks:

A recently open-sourced network mapping tool called SSH-Snake has been repurposed by threat actors to conduct malicious activities.

"SSH-Snake is a self-modifying worm that leverages SSH credentials discovered on a compromised system to start spreading itself throughout the network," Sysdig researcher Miguel Hernández said. "The worm automatically searches through known credential locations and shell history files to determine its next move."

SSH-Snake was first released on GitHub in early January 2024, and is described by its developer as a "powerful tool" to carry out automatic network traversal using SSH private keys discovered on systems.

In doing so, it creates a comprehensive map of a network and its dependencies, helping determine the extent to which a network can be compromised using SSH and SSH private keys starting from a particular host. It also supports resolution of domains which have multiple IPv4 addresses. "It's completely self-replicating and self-propagating – and completely fileless," according to the project's description. "In many ways, SSH-Snake is actually a worm: It replicates itself and spreads itself from one system to another as far as it can."

Sysdig said the shell script not only facilitates lateral movement, but also provides additional stealth and flexibility than other typical SSH worms.

The cloud security company said it observed threat actors deploying SSH-Snake in real-world attacks to harvest credentials, the IP addresses of the targets, and the bash command history following the discovery of a command-and-control (C2) server hosting the data.

"The usage of SSH keys is a recommended practice that SSH-Snake tries to take advantage of in order to spread," Hernández said. "It is smarter and more reliable which will allow threat actors to reach farther into a network once they gain a foothold."

When reached for comment, Joshua Rogers, the developer of SSH-Snake, told The Hacker News that the tool offers legitimate system owners a way to identify weaknesses in their infrastructure before attackers do, urging companies to use SSH-Snake to "discover the attack paths that exist – and fix them." "It seems to be commonly believed that cyber terrorism 'just happens' all of a sudden to systems, which solely requires a reactive approach to security," Rogers said. "Instead, in my experience, systems should be designed and maintained with comprehensive security measures."

"If a cyber terrorist is able to run SSH-Snake on your infrastructure and access thousands of servers, focus should be put on the people that are in charge of the infrastructure, with a goal of revitalizing the infrastructure such that the compromise of a single host can't be replicated across thousands of others."

SSH-Snake: Automated SSH-Based Network Traversal:

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by shrewdsheep on Sunday February 25, @02:19PM (1 child)

    by shrewdsheep (5215) on Sunday February 25, @02:19PM (#1346182)

    I might not want to be as harsh towards the author. I agree that this code seems indeed dangerous. Running it might flag you as being a bad actor on a/many network/s.

    Still, the techniques employed are interesting, especially the file-less propagation, something, I will happily put into my toolbox.

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by Ox0000 on Sunday February 25, @05:00PM

    by Ox0000 (5111) on Sunday February 25, @05:00PM (#1346192)

    The ILOVEYOU [] worm also had some "interesting techniques"... The justification for the creation of the worm was (from the linked wiki) "De Guzman, who was poor and struggling to pay for Internet access at the time, created the computer worm intending to steal other users' passwords, which he could use to log in to their Internet accounts without needing to pay for the service. He justified his actions on his belief that Internet access is a human right and that he was not actually stealing.".

    That sounds eerily similar to the justification offered by the author of the malware, namely: "My own moral framework allows me to do it, therefore it is ok for me to do this and sod the the consequences of my actions for others".

    At best it's irresponsible and the author needs a bit of a schooling in civility and what it means to be a responsible adult, or plain criminal at worst.

    A security researcher is expected to improve security, not to decrease security. They have chosen to do the latter by producing a weapon and handing it out on the corner of the street. I'm no fan of the whole "Responsible Disclosure" farce, but I would have preferred it if this individual would have first worked to patch the hole they found, instead of weaponizing it.

    I'll repeat my wish for them: may they suffer from the sword they wielded...