A recently discovered malicious program steals log-in passwords and other sensitive information from SAP client applications and allows cybercriminals to access SAP servers from infected workstations.
Researchers from ERPScan, a company that develops SAP security scanning products, revealed at the RSA Europe security conference in October that a new malware program scans infected computers for the presence of SAP applications, possibly in preparation for future attacks.
Researchers from Microsoft recently analyzed the same malware, which they named TrojanSpy:Win32/Gamker.A, and found that it does more than just basic reconnaissance.
"This is an attempted attack on SAP and not just a harmless data-gathering operation to determine if SAP is installed," Geoff McDonald, a researcher with the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC), said Wednesday in a blog post. "The attackers are using the execution of the SAP component 'saplogon.exe' to trigger recording of the command-line arguments passed into it, combined with a series of 10 screenshots to the C&C server."
Gamker has a keylogging component that logs all keystrokes entered into any application running on an infected computer. This component can capture log-in credentials like usernames and passwords, including those entered in SAP client applications.
The malware also maintains a large list of specific applications for which it also records command-line parameters and takes screen shots of their active windows.
The list includes saplogon.exe, but also finance-related programs, cryptography tools, VPN clients, Bitcoin wallets and more. The complete list is included in the MMPC blog post, but some examples are rclient.exe (remote administration client), translink.exe (a tool by Western Union), truecrypt.exe and bestcrypt.exe (two encryption applications), openvpn-gui (a graphical user interface for the OpenVPN client).
Gamker shares some code with Carberp, a Russian online banking Trojan program whose source code was leaked online earlier this year, McDonald said. The common part is the Virtual Network Computing (VNC) remote desktop functionality that can be used to remotely control an infected computer.
"It is unclear if there is a larger connection between Gamker and Carberp since the remainder of Gamkers code differs from Carberp's publicly leaked code," the Microsoft researcher said.
According to McDonald, the command-line arguments for the saplogon.exe process are unlikely to contain sensitive information, but the screen shots of its active window can reveal the SAP user name, server name and other confidential data.
That information, combined with the SAP password captured by the keylogging component and the VNC functionality, gives attackers everything they need to attack SAP servers directly from infected machines.
SAP software is used by enterprises to track and manage many business operations including manufacturing, human resources and sales. This means that SAP servers usually contain a lot of sensitive information like customer details, trade secrets, intellectual property or financial data, which can be valuable for attackers.
Depending on the permissions of the stolen SAP credentials, in addition to stealing data, attackers can set up rogue payments or disrupt business operations.
According to ERPScan, 86 percent of companies on the Forbes 500 list use SAP software.
To mitigate the damage caused by possible attacks on their SAP systems, companies should grant users the minimum access privilege level required to complete their job, should implement two-factor authentication, run anti-malware programs and network intrusion detection systems, train their employees to avoid malware infections and keep the software running on their workstations up to date, McDonald said.
"This trojans targeting of businesses, as opposed to individuals, is an alarming move and we will be monitoring this for further developments to protect and inform our customers," he said.