• Luciana Obregon

How To Create An Attack Timeline For Malware Investigations: Hancitor Malware Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog series, we analyzed TCP network traffic exchanged between a compromised Windows machine and several malicious destinations and began building an attack timeline following the Mandiant's Attack Lifecycle.

The last part of this blog series aims to complete the attack timeline, develop a list of indicators of compromise to establish attribution, and answer the questions posed at the start of the investigation:

  • The attack vector leading to initial system access

  • The malware variant resulting in the system's infection

  • The post-compromise actions taken by the attackers

We will continue analyzing the network packet capture file obtained from www.malware-traffic-analysis.net (here), focusing on the DNS exchanges between the victim machine and a DNS server.

The TCP traffic analysis performed in Part 1 of this blog series produced findings indicative of possible malware infection of a Windows machine, resulting in command and control. The suspected victim machine downloaded and presumably installed three unusual files (two .bin and one .exe) from, immediately after connecting and sending some data (via HTTP POST) to a PHP website or script hosted on The machine then established a presumed command and control channel to over TCP 8080. Our attack timeline up to this point includes the following:

UDP Analysis: Initial Access

After exhausting the TCP network traffic analysis, we focused on the UDP connections, particularly DNS exchanges between our suspected victim machine and an internal DNS server. We observed the actions that led to the alleged victim machine establishing a C&C channel by filtering the timeline (TS) column for values less than or equal to 1612800013 and sorting the TS column in descending order.

We observed a DNS request (DNS request ID 65148 on column G) from the suspected victim machine at timestamp 1612800011 and again at 1612800012 for an interesting domain named roanokemortgages[.]com, followed by the DNS server responding to the request with, the IP address from where the victim machine downloaded the three unusual files.

Malware DNS Request

Our attack timeline now includes the following:

Malware Attack Timeline

We then searched for the other two potentially malicious IP addresses found in the TCP traffic analysis by applying a filter on column J for values equal to or, resulting on a single match for with DNS request ID 40446.

Malware Log Analysis

We then proceeded to look for values matching the DNS request ID 40446 in column G, resulting in several DNS requests for a domain named satursed[.]com, the first one at timestamp 1612800007.

Find Malicious Domain

Our updated attack timeline now looks like this:

With all the information we have collected so far, we can begin building our list of indicators of compromise to help attribute this attack. The list of indicators of compromise includes IP addresses, domains, and files, as follows:

We next observed the actions that led to the first DNS request at timestamp 1612800007 for the suspected malicious satursed[.]com by filtering the timeline (TS) column for values less than or equal to 1612800007. We noticed that the alleged victim machine sent a DNS request for login.microsoftonline.com at 1612800002, which could indicate that the individual using the machine at the time of infection:

  • Accessed a Microsoft email account, or

  • Accessed a Microsoft application, such as Microsoft Word online

At this point, we suspected that initial access had been through a phishing email.

Phishing Email Timeline

Our attack timeline now included the initial access:

Hancitor Attack Timeline

Scrolling down the UDP file, we noticed another unusual DNS request at timestamp 1612799952 for tonmatdoaminh[.]com, resolving to 45.124.85[.]55.

Hancitor Attack Data

We switched back to the TCP network traffic file and filtered the destination IP column for values matching 45.124.85[.]55, resulting in the first connection to 45.124.85[.]55 recorded at timestamp 1612799952. We also observed two HTTP GET requests for 45.124.85[.]55/ uninviting.php recorded at 1612799952 and 1612799953.

TCP Traffic Analysis Tool

Our updated attack timeline now includes the following:

Hancitor Malware Attack Timeline

Our updated list of indicators of compromise now includes the newest findings:

Malware Indicators

UDP Analysis: Command and Control

The next step in the analysis included observing the actions that followed command and control. The suspected victim machine established the first presumed C&C channel to over TCP 8080 at timestamp 1612800013. We switched back to the UDP network traffic file and filtered the timestamp column (TS) for values greater than or equal to 1612800013. We also filtered column H for values matching requests for DNS A records only (A?).

Starting at TS 1612800014, we noticed a DNS request (ID 60462) for another unusual domain, sweyblidian[.]com.


We then filtered column G for values matching the DNS request ID for sweyblidian.com, 60462, revealing IP address 185.100.65[.]29.

DNS Malware Timeline

Our updated attack timeline and IoC list now include the following:

TCP Analysis: Complete Mission

We then switched back to the TCP network traffic file to learn more about 185.100.65[.]29. We filtered the destination IP address column (dst.ip) for values matching 185.100.65[.]29 and summarized all unique connections by searching for TCP SYNs in the TCP.FLAGS column. The result included two separate TCP connections from our suspected victim machine to 185.100.65[.]29 at 1612800017 and 1612800021.

We suspected that sweyblidian.com was used as an exfiltration destination following C&C. We analyzed the packet sizes for connections to sweyblidian.com (185.100.65[.]29) and noticed that most of these were 1,460 bytes, which is the maximum packet size for TCP connections. It is hard to tell without additional information, but this could be indicative of data exfiltration.

Malware Exfiltration Analysis

Our completed attack timeline now looks like this:

Threat Intelligence Completes the Analysis

By now, we had enough information to answer two of the questions posed at the beginning of the blog, including the attack vector and post-compromise actions. However, we were still unable to attribute the attack to a particular campaign or threat actor group.

Our next step consisted in using Gigasheet's enrichment capabilities through VirusTotal's API. We switched to the TCP network traffic file and enriched the destination IP address column (dst.ip).

We observed that VirusTotal returned a match for several IP addresses. We then browsed to VirusTotal and searched for one of the suspected malicious domains, roanoakemorgages.com, revealing an interesting Pastebin site.

Virustotal Malware Analysis

Hancitor Malware

Within the Pastebin site, we found many IoCs we had collected during our investigation.


With this information, we were now able to answer the following questions:

  1. What was the attack vector?

  2. Microsoft Office file with malicious macros delivered via email

  3. Can this attack be attributed to any group or malware?

  4. Hancitor malware, AKA Chanitor

  5. What happened after the machine was infected?

  6. We cannot confirm the type of data exfiltrated during the attack, but based on FireEye’s report, different versions of Hancitor malware were designed to steal credentials and autocomplete Intelliforms data

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