Another data-wiping malware program found in Iran

New malware Batchwiper is unsophisticated, but can cause a lot of damage, researchers say

A new piece of malware that deletes entire partitions and user files from infected computers has been found in Iran, according to an alert issued Sunday by Maher, Iran's Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (CERTCC).

Maher Center described the new threat as a targeted attack, but said that it has a simple design and is not similar to other sophisticated targeted attacks previously seen in the region. "Despite its simplicity in design, the malware is efficient and can wipe disk partitions and user profile directories without being recognized by anti-virus software," the center said in its advisory.

Several security companies have confirmed Maher's findings and said the threat is unsophisticated.

The malware is designed to delete all data from disk partitions identified with letters D to I, as well as files located on the desktop of the currently logged in user, security researchers from antivirus vendor Symantec said Monday in a blog post.

The malware initiates its data wiping routine on certain dates, the next one being Jan. 21 2013. However, the dates of Oct. 12, Nov. 12 and Dec. 12, 2012, were also found in the malware's configuration, suggesting that it may have been in distribution for at least two months.

The Maher Center said the malware's installer, also known as the dropper, is called GrooveMonitor.exe. That filename was likely chosen as a disguise because it is normally associated with a legitimate Microsoft Office 2007 document collaboration feature called Microsoft Office Groove.

According to an analysis of the new threat by researchers from security firm AlienVault, when the installer is executed, it adds a registry entry that ensure the malware's persistence across system reboots and creates a Windows batch file containing the data wiping routine.

Because of its use of batch files -- script files to be executed by the Windows shell program -- the malware has been dubbed "Batchwiper."

It's not clear how the malware is being distributed. The dropper could be deployed using several vectors, ranging from spearphishing emails, infected USB drives, some other malware already running on computers, or an internal actor uploading it to network shares, AlienVault Labs manager Jaime Blasco said via email.

Despite the fact that this malware is not sophisticated, if its wiping routines are executed, it can do a lot of damage, Blasco said.

Batchwiper is not the first data wiping malware found in the Middle East. Earlier this year, an investigation into a mysterious piece of malware that reportedly destroyed data from Iranian energy sector servers led to the discovery of the Flame cyberespionage threat.

In August, security researchers identified another unrelated piece of malware with data wiping capabilities called Shamoon. The malware is believed to have been used in an attack against Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's national oil company, and affected of thousands of computer systems.

"Kaspersky Lab is currently researching the latest form of data wiping malware that was reported on December 16, 2012 by the Iranian Maher CERT," a representative of Kaspersky Lab said Monday via email. "Preliminary analysis suggests the malware is unsophisticated and does not appear to be related to the Wiper or Shamoon/DistTrack malware from earlier this year."

The malware nonetheless points to a trend of destructive code being used in the Middle East region.

"I do agree that this is not common in other parts of the world, and it can suggest that in the Middle East it might be easier for attackers to decide to take such actions to cover their tracks," Aviv Raff, chief technology officer of Israel-based IT security firm Seculert said via email. Seculert researchers have analyzed Batchwiper and confirm that it doesn't appear to have any direct connection to Shamoon, he said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags symantecsecurityAlienVaultSeculertdata protectionmalwarekaspersky lab

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?