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NSA-linked Bvp47 Linux backdoor widely undetected for 10 years

A report released today dives deep into technical aspects of a Linux backdoor now tracked as Bvp47 that is linked to the Equation Group, the advanced persistent threat actor tied to the U.S. National Security Agency. Bvp47 survived until today almost undetected, despite being submitted to the Virus Total antivirus database for the first time close to a decade ago, in late 2013. Until this morning, only one antivirus engine on Virus Total detected the Bvp47 sample. As the report spread in the infosec community, detection started to improve, being flagged by six engines at the moment of writing. The Equation Group connection The Advanced Cyber Security Research team at Pangu Lab, a Chinese cybersecurity company, says that it found the elusive malware in 2013, during a “forensic investigation of a host in a key domestic department.” The Bvp47 sample obtained from the forensic investigation proved to be an advanced backdoor for Linux with a remote control function protected through the RSA asymmetric cryptography algorithm, which requires a private key to enable. They found the private key in the leaks published by the Shadow Brokers hacker group between 2016-2017, which contained hacking tools and zero-day exploits used by NSA’s cyberattack team, the Equation Group. Some components in the Shadow Brokers leaks were integrated into the Bvp47 framework - “dewdrop” and “solutionchar_agents” - indicating that the implant covered Unix-based operating systems like mainstream Linux distributions, Juniper’s JunOS, FreeBSD, and Solaris. Apart from Pangu Lab attributing the Bvp47 malware to the Equation Group, automated analysis of the backdoor also shows similarities with another sample from the same actor. Kaspersky’s Threat Attribution Engine (KTAE) shows that 34 out of 483 strings match those from another Equation-related sample for Solaris SPARC systems, which had a 30% similarity with yet another Equation malware submitted to Virus Total in 2018 and posted by threat intel researcher Deresz on January 24, 2022.