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QakBot Malware: A Threat to Bank Cybersecurity

written by Thomas Johnson, On August 31, 2023


Have you recently heard of Qakbot? You may have seen the term in the news lately because, in this second quarter of 2023, QakBot threats to banking credentials and data have become more active, evolving into a severe problem for cybersecurity.

Hackers have created and expanded forms of Qakbot attacks, with increasingly sophisticated campaigns that can bypass common layers of information security implemented by financial institutions. 

Read on and find out what these threats are, how these attacks occur, and what you could do to prevent them. 

Let's do it!

What is QakBot?

QakBot is a second-stage modular malware created in 2007. The main characteristic of this type of malware is its backdoor capability that allows it to steal credentials and methods such as HTML smuggling, data obfuscation, or JavaScript. It is a Trojan worm that steals confidential data from banking institutions but can self-propagate through all internal systems of the organization, with its remote code execution, to scan and breach all networks and devices. 

What can the malware attack do once it enters your network?

  • Access collects host information.
  • Create scheduled tasks.
  • Steal credentials and passwords through browser data.
  • Obtain passwords by brute force. 
  • Manipulate data logs. 
  • Spying on operations. 
  • Create copies of data. 
  • Block access to your data and inject ransomware.

How does a Qakbot malware attack occur?

The increase in the number of QakBot Trojan virus infections in banks is because cybercriminals have diversified how they launch their ingenious campaigns, which can successfully overturn an organization's security policies. 

Let's look at the attack's phases one by one!


In this phase, cybercriminals look for opportunities to launch their campaigns; they completely understand the security solutions and determine the weak or vulnerable areas in the internal networks. 

It allows them to create campaigns and malicious URLs, often leveraging Highly Evasive Adaptive Threat (HEAT) tactics. These new cybersecurity attacks include sending Excel 4.0 macros in which users click and open an. XLS file.


This includes two essential parts, which are a URL with malicious Zip files or any online link such as Drive with a password, which allows evading existing defenses. The archive additionally includes an ISO image and a DOC or XLS attachment. 

QakBot malware campaigns connect different blocks to create unique infection chains, bypassing common cybersecurity layers such as antivirus, network inspections, HTTP, and Secure Web Gateway sandboxes.

Sending the message

The great innovation of QakBot attacks that makes them very difficult to detect is that the person receives an email with a hyperlink. However, this message often compromises benign domains and hosts the malicious payload. In addition, it is designed to appear from people with whom the individual frequently interacts, is even part of a conversation thread, and prompts "click to view attachment." so they trust and click.


This phase starts when the person receives an email, clicks on the ZIP file, and allows the download of the program. However, there have also been cases where the hacker uses HTML emails or web pages to host the malware directly on end devices. 


Once the recipient clicks on the ZIP file, the program spreads through the device and internal security networks. However, in cases of HTML files, first, the malware payload occurs. After decryption, a protected ZIP file appears, allowing deep scanning of systems for essential data and credentials, and the endpoint is hosted. 


Newer versions of the QakBot malware insert themselves directly into the registry base or terminal machines, making finding and eradicating the infection more difficult. 

Find out how to prevent these attacks in your organization!


Pirani: Improving risk management.  

Pirani is a software that makes it easier for organizations of different sizes and industries to secure and safeguard their most important assets. It is a tool that simplifies the implementation of an effective information security management program by centralizing all relevant information in one place. However, it decentralizes the control of risks so that all members work together to mitigate them. 

With a friendly and easy-to-understand dashboard, the tool allows them to quickly prioritize potential threats and efficiently use time and resources towards the most serious and probable ones. It will enable you to see the progress of the action plans, the times set, who is responsible, and how compliance is progressing. One of its key features is that it sends immediate alerts even to mobile devices to make response time and decision-making more effective in the face of risk.

Pirani also helps security and risk management teams evaluate the effectiveness of control measures and even allows them to know the failures or vulnerable areas with its internal audit module. 

Take control of risk management with Pirani!

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Key recommendations to avoid QakBot cybersecurity attacks.

Use vulnerability scanning tools

As we pointed out, cybercriminals use entry points and gateways on endpoints to infect devices and networks. What allows Qakbot malware to advance is that it takes advantage of existing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 

The tool your organization has should include real-time monitoring of applications and emails. 

Staff training 

Despite the sophisticated tactics of these cybersecurity attacks and their unique blockchains, they still require a person to click on hyperlinks and files, so team members and staff must know how to spot email files and URLs that may look suspicious. 

Use security patches

It is necessary to constantly update the implemented security patches to be protected against unknown vulnerabilities before cybercriminals can exploit them. 

 In these cases, the organization should focus on implementing prevention and detection measures, especially investing in technologies capable of isolating and wrapping potentially dangerous attachments so the malware cannot be executed; this helps to ensure that only files that have passed inspection checks can be viewed.


The QakBbot has become a severe problem for the cybersecurity of financial organizations; the diversification of malware infection methods to the networks and devices of financial institutions demands the implementation and continuous updating of security layers to ensure the protection of critical data. Cybersecurity tools and programs must be able to read multiple programming languages to detect and isolate malware before it spreads effectively. 

Did you know about the Qakbot? Did you find this article interesting? 

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