Massive Phishing Campaign Strikes Latin America: Venom RAT Targeting Multiple Sectors


Idan Tarab, a threat analyst at Perception Point, has released details on a massive campaign targeting entities in Latin America with Venom RAT. The campaign has been attributed to a financially motivated cybercriminal threat group dubbed TA558, which in the past has targeted entities in the LATAM region with several malware strains including Loda RAT, Vjw0rm, and Revenge RAT. Venom RAT seems to be the latest payload deployed in attacks by this group, which is believed to be a fork of the Quasar malware family. In the latest set of attacks, TA558 is sending phishing emails in the masses to infect potential victims, primarily those residing in the hotel, travel, trading, financial manufacturing, industrial, and government sectors. Countries impacted include Spain, Mexico, the United States, Colombia, Portugal, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Argentina.

Security Officer Comments:
VenomRAT has been around since 2020 but this seems to be the first instance of TA558 employing the payload in attacks. Similar to Quasar RAT, which the trojan is based on, VenomRAT is capable of harvesting sensitive data from victim environments and enables actors to control targeted systems remotely. Notable about VenomRAT is its ability to bypass User Account Control (UAC), a security feature on Windows designed to prevent unauthorized changes to the operating system. By bypassing UAC this enables the actors to elevate privileges and evade defenses. The malware is also capable of creating scheduled job tasks to run every three minutes, allowing for persistent access to victims’ systems.

Suggested Corrections:
Users should always be cautious of individuals or organizations that ask for personal information. Most companies will not ask for sensitive data from its customers. If in doubt, users should verify with the company itself to avoid any potential issues.

Users should always take a close look at the sender’s display name when checking the legitimacy of an email. Most companies use a single domain for their URLs and emails, so a message that originates from a different domain is a red flag.

As a general rule, users should not click links or download files even if they come from seemingly “trustworthy” sources.

Check for mismatched URLs. While an embedded URL might seem perfectly valid, hovering above it might show a different web address. In fact, users should avoid clicking links in emails unless they are certain that it is a legitimate link.

Users should always be on the lookout for any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Legitimate companies will often employ proofreaders and editors who ensure that the materials they send out are error-free.

Users should not be frightened or intimidated by messages that have an alarmist tone. They should double check with the company if they are uncertain about the status of their accounts.

Phishing emails are designed to be sent to a large number of people, so they need to be as impersonal as possible. Users should check whether the message contains a generic subject and greeting, as this can be a sign of a phishing attempt.

Although not every end user has access to advanced anti-phishing software, they can still use the built-in protection of their email clients to filter messages. One example is setting the email client to block all images unless approved.

Legitimate companies will never send confirmation emails unless there are specific reasons for doing so. In fact, most companies will avoid sending unsolicited messages unless it’s for company updates, newsletters, or advertising purposes.

Users should always take the context of an email or message into account. For example, most online accounts do away with viewable member numbers, so users should be wary if they receive emails containing a “member number” for services that generally don’t use them.

It is important to take note of unusual information in the text of the message. Any mentions of operating systems and software that are not typically used by consumers can often be indicators of a phishing attempt.

If it seems suspicious, it probably is. Users should always err on the side of caution when it comes to sending out personally identifiable information through messages and emails.