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Threat actors have been found deploying never-before-seen post-compromise implants in VMware’s virtualization software to seize control of infected systems and evade detection.

Google’s Mandiant threat intelligence division referred to it as a “novel malware ecosystem” that impacts VMware ESXi, Linux vCenter servers, and Windows virtual machines, allowing attackers to maintain persistent access to the hypervisor as well as execute arbitrary commands.

The hyperjacking attacks, per the cybersecurity vendor, involved the use of malicious vSphere Installation Bundles (VIBs) to sneak in two implants, dubbed VIRTUALPITA and VIRTUALPIE, on the ESXi hypervisors.

“It is important to highlight that this is not an external remote code execution vulnerability; the attacker needs admin-level privileges to the ESXi hypervisor before they can deploy malware,” Mandiant researchers Alexander Marvi, Jeremy Koppen, Tufail Ahmed, and Jonathan Lepore said in an exhaustive two-part report.

There is no evidence that a zero-day vulnerability was exploited to gain access to ESXi servers. That said, the use of trojanized VIBs, a software package format used to facilitate software distribution and virtual machine management, points to a new level of sophistication.

images from Hacker News