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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: 2) by quietus on Sunday February 25, @07:45PM (8 children)

    by quietus (6328) on Sunday February 25, @07:45PM (#1346225) Journal

    And it was released out in the open so people could use it to do that.

    Instead of releasing this out in the open, isn't it better to first notify SANS [sans.org] orNVD [nist.gov] (in the United States) or CERT [europa.eu] (EU) or ENISA [europa.eu], and release the code through them?

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, @08:30PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, @08:30PM (#1346232)

    I haven't RTFA of course, but from the summary above it doesn't compromise the initial system, you still need a security hole for that. It doesn't make use of any exploits in traversal either.
    What it does is see how far that machine could "legitimately" get in your network once compromised.

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday February 27, @08:25PM (6 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 27, @08:25PM (#1346536) Journal

    Instead of releasing this out in the open, isn't it better to first notify SANS [sans.org] orNVD [nist.gov] (in the United States) or CERT [europa.eu] (EU) or ENISA [europa.eu], and release the code through them?

    Why would it be better? It allows governments and criminal organizations a chance to suppress this information. By making it public immediately, there's no value to attacking you - the genie is out of the bottle.

    • (Score: 2) by quietus on Wednesday February 28, @07:07PM (5 children)

      by quietus (6328) on Wednesday February 28, @07:07PM (#1346691) Journal

      It would be better, for one, as it is the habit -- I assume -- of a security professional to check the SANS news letter for vulnerabilities; while it is not so much a habit to scan the whole of GitHub, GitLab and other places for open source programs exploiting security vulnerabilities. So many hours in a day, eh?

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday February 29, @02:47AM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 29, @02:47AM (#1346743) Journal

        It would be better, for one, as it is the habit -- I assume -- of a security professional to check the SANS news letter for vulnerabilities; while it is not so much a habit to scan the whole of GitHub, GitLab and other places for open source programs exploiting security vulnerabilities.

        Looks like SANS didn't have any trouble [sans.org] hearing about the project.

        SSH-Snake Network Traversal Tool is Being Abused

        Threat actors have been using a recently-released network mapping tool for malicious purposes. [...]

        • (Score: 2) by quietus on Thursday February 29, @09:50AM (3 children)

          by quietus (6328) on Thursday February 29, @09:50AM (#1346770) Journal

          On February 22, yes. The tool was released in early January.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday February 29, @01:01PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday February 29, @01:01PM (#1346790) Journal
            Still not seeing the supposed problem. SANS learned of it, checking your box. Let's consider an alternate scenario. Said programmer uses a SANS channel to communicate their result. A five eyes informant or a Russian mob plant) learns of this and the programmer gets the treatment, including all their equipment and data seized. Maybe even seize the programmer too. Now, someone has exclusive access to this tool and the programmer may be in deep trouble too.
            • (Score: 2) by quietus on Thursday February 29, @03:19PM (1 child)

              by quietus (6328) on Thursday February 29, @03:19PM (#1346808) Journal

              SANS learned of it, checking your box.

              More than a month later. How long do you wait with patches to your operating system?

              As to the rest of your reply, about five eyes informants and such: maybe you spend too much time on the Internet.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday March 01, @04:44AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 01, @04:44AM (#1346906) Journal

                More than a month later. How long do you wait with patches to your operating system?

                Hopefully you had patched the system more than a month earlier, right?