Trend Micro Inc.

09/20/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/21/2021 01:33

Water Basilisk Uses New HCrypt Variant to Flood Victims with RAT Payloads

We encountered a fileless campaign that used a new HCrypt variant to distribute numerous remote access trojans (RATs) in victim systems. This new variant uses a newer obfuscation mechanism compared to what has been observed in past reports. It reached the peak of activity in the middle of August 2021.

HCrypt is a crypter and multistage generator that is considered difficult to detect. It is identified as a crypter-as-a-service, paid for by threat actors to load a RAT (or in this case RATs) of their choosing. The campaign also showed new obfuscation techniques and attack vectors, different from those that were observed in the past.

In this campaign, which we have labelled Water Basilisk, the attacker mostly used publicly available file hosting services such as "", "", and "", to host the malware while hacked WordPress websites were used to host phishing kits.

The malicious file is hidden as an ISO that is distributed through a phishing email or website. This file contains an obfuscated VBScript stager responsible for downloading and executing the next stage of the VBScript content onto the infected system memory.

The final stage is an obfuscated PowerShell script that contains the payloads and is responsible for deobfuscating and injecting them into the assigned process. In some cases, the final stage PowerShell script contained up to seven various RATs. These are typically NjRat, BitRat, Nanocore RAT, QuasarRat, LimeRat, and Warzone.

HCrypt version 7.8

In a nutshell, Water Basilisk's attack chain is a combination of the VBScript and PowerShell commands. HCrypt creates various obfuscated VBScripts and PowerShell to deliver or inject the final payload into a given process in a victim system. The latest version of this crypter is 7.8, based on what we have seen in its builder and website.