RubyCarp - Romania

12428818057?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Sysdig Threat Research Team (Sysdig TRT) recently discovered a long-running botnet operated by a Romanian threat actor group, which we call RUBYCARP.  Evidence suggests that this threat actor has been active for at least 10 years.  Its primary method of operation leverages a botnet deployed using a variety of public exploits and brute force attacks.  This group communicates via public and private IRC networks, develops cyber weapons and targeting data, and uses its botnet for financial gain via cryptomining and phishing.  This report explores how RUBYCARP operates and its motivations.  

RUBYCARP, like many threat actors, is interested in payloads that enable financial gain.  This includes cryptomining, DDoS, and Phishing.  Analysts have seen it deploy several different tools to monetize its compromised assets.  For example, through its Phishing operations, RUBYCARP has been seen targeting credit cards.  As we have seen with other threat actors, it has a diversified set of illicit income streams.[1]

Attribution - RUBYCARP, the name we have given this group, is a financially-motivated threat actor group that is most likely Romanian.  RUBYCARP may be related to the Outlaw advanced persistent threat (APT), as it does share many of the same tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).  However, since these shared TTPs are common across many botnet operators, we cannot definitively make this conclusion.  RUBYCARP leverages Shellbot often during its operations, which can also cause attribution confusion since this tool is a common choice among threat actors. 

In the murky world of cybercriminal threat intelligence, there is often a lot of crossover in both tools and targeting.  The recent advisory from CISA discusses the Androxgh0st threat actor’s choice to exploit Laravel. This is another example of cybercriminal overlap, with RUBYCARP notably targeting the same framework vulnerabilities.  Many of these threat actors are fighting it out over the same target space, making it difficult to attribute attacks. 

What is RUBYCARP?  For months, Sysdig TRT’s has been tracking RUBYCARP through the targeting and exploitation of Laravel applications vulnerable to CVE-2021-3129. This led to evidence of SSH Brute forcing as another way the group gained access to its targets. Recently, we also discovered evidence of the threat actor targeting WordPress sites using dumps of usernames and passwords. RUBYCARP continues to add new exploitation techniques to its arsenal to build its botnets. 

12428817873?profile=RESIZE_710xOnce access is obtained, a backdoor based on the popular Perl Shellbot is installed.  The victim’s server is then connected to an IRC server acting as command and control and joins the more giant botnet.  During RUBYCARP’s reconnaissance phase, we found 39 Perl file variants (shellbot) variants, but only eight were in VirusTotal.  This means that only a few campaigns were previously detected.  The modifications of the files are:

A nickname is used to join the IRC server - The channel where the victim joins is often marked by either a platform name (e.g., apache) or a member name (e.g., juice)

  • Sometimes, auth is added
  • The IRC server

Campaigns - After connecting to the IRC server, we discovered the actual number of compromised hosts at over 600.  On the other hand, by not properly configuring the connection to the server, RUBYCARP has a detection system to kick out unexpected/unwanted server users and ban their IP to prevent new connections. It tries to keep the network hidden as much as possible. 

The last active domain of this botnet is chat[.]juicessh[.]pro, and we were able to obtain the information below:

It was created on Monday, 1 May 2023 at 04:30:05 UTC

624 nicks [2 ops, 0 halfops, 0 voices, 622 normal]

VICTIMS by channel at the moment of writing:

#juscan1, 176 victims

#cfs, 11 victims

#php3, 34 victims

#sb, 33 victims

12428818089?profile=RESIZE_710xBased on naming schemes and connection configuration, the apparent group would be composed of users like “juice,” “cartier,” or “aridan.” Still, there could be more, where each one might be dedicated to a purpose, such as cryptomining, customized tools, etc.  Our investigation determined that its IRC server of choice for public and private hosting is  The active private IRC networks are chat[.]juicessh[.]pro and sshd[.]run.  The infrastructure we discovered for RUBYCARP comprises many malicious IPs and domains, rotated regularly and often replaced and emptied of its malicious content as soon as any potential research activity was detected. A complete infrastructure list is available here.

How does RUBYCARP Operate?  RUBYCARP uses multiple IRC networks for general communications and to manage its botnets and coordinate cryptomining campaigns.  An outline of its organization when managing botnets would be as follows:

12428818098?profile=RESIZE_710xIn one of the logs acquired, RUBYCARP tends to share the tools it is using, which include many of the tools we have been able to collect through our honeypot, such as:

  • Banner
  • Masscan
  • X (kernel module)
  • Brute

12428818461?profile=RESIZE_710xCommunications - Private IRC - RUBYCARP uses a collection of private IRC servers to manage its botnet and seems to rotate them regularly.  “,” “,” and others are the latest active ones at the time of writing. Each RUBYCARP campaign gets its own IRC channel, and the bots within each channel are named according to a predefined scheme.  Analysts were able to map the observed servers and their respective channels, although, unfortunately, not all of them are still active or accessible. 

Public IRC – Members - Members of RUBYCARP mainly communicate through an Undernet IRC channel called #Cristi.  Public logs for the channel show a user (and admin) “_juice” interacting with other group members in Romanian; we can also see that the channel topic is related to previous or current campaigns, available below.

12428818494?profile=RESIZE_710xWhile Sisdig monitored the chats, both actors, juice, and Eugen, who own the channel #Eugen from which we collected most of the mining setup evidence, were present in channel #Cristi.  Within the user base of the channel #Cristi, which at the time of writing contained 280 users, analysts identified multiple familiar names of actors who attacked our honeypot.  For example, “Catalin” attacked our honeypot on Jan. 8, 2024, from IP 80[.]83[.]124[.]150.  The following image is of the website hosted there during the attack.  Notice the attribution to “Catalin” at the bottom.

12428818866?profile=RESIZE_400xAnother is “aridan,” which we observed in previous attacks with the domain “”  The most recurring IRC admins we found within the Shellbot configuration files are “juice,” “MUIE,” and “Smecher,” who also each have their respective channels for malicious operations.  “juice” has been the most prolific in setting up new malicious Shellbot configurations, new servers, and new victim channels.  Below is the WHOIS screenshot for the #Cristi channel members we’ve identified: 

juice_, admin


Smecher, admin


MUIE, admin


Aridan, member


Catalin, member


Dog, developer


Community—Sisdig identified a custom script that is plausibly circulated among the group members on how to set up the juice mining operation. It then lists the #redhat channel hosted on Undernet for support. This channel has no official relation to RedHat, the business, or software and is likely just a nod to RedHat vigilante hacking.


The RedHat channel uses the undernet IRC network. Specifically, this group uses the Romanian server[.]org, where the username @juice_ is present. 

12428822859?profile=RESIZE_710xThe channel #Cristi is used to set up mining operations. She keeps track of the members utilizing the custom malicious tools we encountered, often signed by “Juice” and “Cartier” (aka “dog” and “Kartier”) group members.

12428842688?profile=RESIZE_710xWithin the channel #Cristi logs we could scrape, we found a reference to an external link It contained quite an extensive record of logs taken from the private channel #Eugen, which we had not seen before.  By investigating what we had found, we quickly discovered that the two people involved in most of the interactions within these logs were user “Kartier” (signed as “dog”) and “Eugen.”  Both members were present at different times on channel #Cristi.  “Eugen” seems to be a moniker for a Romanian individual who also conducts malicious operations alongside the other members, as the logs containing their miner setups attest.


12428832898?profile=RESIZE_710xLink to the #Eugen channel logs found in #Cristi

The main domain where these logs are currently saved belongs to a legitimate Bulgarian University, the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy.  The subdomain physics. uctm[.]edu appears compromised by RUBYCARP and contains detailed instructions and information on the tools used and the miner configuration.  Sisdig identified the user “dog” as the main malicious tool developer of the group, signing their tools with “Cartier” and “Kartier.”  Analysts have also found direct evidence of tool developer “Cartier” within the channel #Cristi, as shown below.

12428833298?profile=RESIZE_584xDog’s tool expertise is reflected in how it instructs other group members how to set up and run the custom malicious tools.  These malicious tools have been found in almost all of the campaigns we were targeted in.  This list includes:

12428833483?profile=RESIZE_710xHere, user “Eugen” shows running miners, bash, and ld-linux-x8:



There is also a reference to malicious ELF “plm,” observed multiple times in attacks against our honeypot and also reported in past campaigns:

12428834652?profile=RESIZE_584xBelow is an excerpt of how user “dog” is attempting to give user “Eugen” access to a malicious domain containing a setup script for its infrastructure.

12428840858?profile=RESIZE_584xThe IP above corresponds to a malicious indicator on VirusTotal, identified as malware. There are also references to RUBYCARP’s most commonly used tool, Mass Scanner (mass), which is omnipresent in its pre-exploitation activities and utilized to find new potential victims.

12428834065?profile=RESIZE_710xRUBYCARP’s Motivations

Cryptomining - RUBYCARP uses its pools for mining that are hosted on the exact domains where it has created the IRC server to control the bots.  These custom mining pools allow it to avoid detection from IP-based blocklists, and using standard and random ports provides another layer of stealth from simple detection systems.  Also discovered that it has not focused on a single cryptocurrency or mining tool but has several miners and wallets with activity.  All the following IoCs are related to the “juice” threat actor.

Mining Pools: 

  • juicessh[.]space:443
  • juicessh[.]space:4430
  • juicessh[.]space:5332
  • 91[.]208.206.118:443
  • 194[.]163.141.243:4430
  • sshd[.]baselinux[.]net
  • run[.]psybnc[.]org:443
  • Known miners
  • NanoMiner
  • XMrig
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Monero
  • Ethereum
  • Ravencoin

The Ravencoin wallet has been particularly prolific. According to a wallet checker, its total USD receipts would be over $22,800. The wallet has a large number of transactions associated with it and has been active since February 2022. The last available transaction was mined on 12 March 2024.

There are also several exchanges of wallet information among the members in an attempt to show how much they have gained from these malicious campaigns. In the excerpt below, user “porno” claimed to have gained 0.00514903 BTC, around USD 360, within 24 hours.

12428840477?profile=RESIZE_710xC3Bash—In addition to the already known miners we observed above, Sisdig also encountered a custom command-line miner set up called simply “miner,” which we named “C3Bash” due to the self-labeling we found. The script in question is signed by “Juice,” and it allows a potential user to set up its wallet address with a command-line argument, as well as any miner of choice. 

Once the user has set up its configurations, the script takes care of downloading, installing, and running the miners in the background, alerting the user if the script gets killed by antivirus or simply removed.  It also suggests that CPU usage should be compared to the host's to avoid detection.  On a victim device, this may result in the running of multiple miners at the same time, effectively reducing both the time it takes for the attacker to execute the malicious payload and the chances of it being detected, as the execution will now rely on a single script. 

The script currently supports miners XMRig/Monero, and it was hosted on the now-dead domain download[.]c3bash[.]org.

12428840679?profile=RESIZE_710xPhishing - Sisdig found evidence that RUBYCARP also executes phishing operations to steal financially valuable assets, such as credit card numbers.  Based on the logs, it appears it is using this to fund its infrastructure, but it is reasonable to think that RUBYCARP also uses these for other purposes or possibly to sell.  In one of the attacks we received against our honeypot in December 2023, analysts identified a phishing template (letter.html) targeting Danish users and impersonating the Danish logistics company “Bring.”

12428841254?profile=RESIZE_710xI also discovered a PHP script named “,” which was used to send those phishing emails.  An email.txt file was found that contained two potentially compromised email accounts from which the attackers would send emails: “test@lufaros[.]com” and “maria@cenacop[.]com.”  At the time of this writing, the domain “lufaros[.]com” is marked as Malicious on VirusTotal.  Analyzing the shellbot code shows that it has specific commands to send emails, and it is likely that this is the template used in the campaigns:

sendraw($IRC_cur_socket, "PRIVMSG $printl :!u sendmail <subject> <sender> <recipient> <message>");

Identified were 36 text files containing hundreds of Danish email addresses, some of which were present in old and recent data leaks.  It is reasonable to think that the email addresses may have been the target of the phishing template above.   Within the same data, we also identified a Zip file named “”  Once extracted, the archive contains an image of the logo of the European bank Nets.  

There are also SVG files within the same folder containing an “ID Check” verification image and a Visa logo.  As shown below, more images were also found containing a mobile phone layout effectively emulating a Nets home banking application.  These would be used to build a convincing phishing landing page.


 12428841263?profile=RESIZE_400x  12428841273?profile=RESIZE_400x

Archive content—Finally, we also found direct evidence of a new domain purchase. In an excerpt below, the user “dog”/” cartier” is preparing to purchase a new potential domain with stolen credit card data. 



The screenshots above show a conversation where the user “dog” lists files we believe it has stolen.  The filenames seem to reference the Swedish bank Swish clearly, and the timestamp suggests they may have been stolen in 2016.  “Dog” also provided credit card information to be used, presumably by other members.  These were printed in clear text within the channel and have been redacted as they contained payment information.  Given the evidence above, it is plausible that the attackers may rely on phishing templates to collect payment information. It is safe to assume the phishing targets European entities, such as Swish Bank, Nets Bank, and Bring Logistics.

Conclusion - RUBYCARP is a group of Romanian threat actors active for almost a decade.  Attribution is always tricky, but they are likely Romanian and may have some crossover with the “Outlaw APT” group and others who leverage the Perl Shellbot.  These threat actors are also involved in developing and selling cyber weapons, which isn’t very common.  They have a large arsenal of tools they have built up over the years, giving them quite a range of flexibility when conducting their operations.

Communications between threat actors haven’t changed much over the years, with IRC still being very popular. RUBYCARP also has a community aspect, which is interesting, as they help mentor people who are new to the scene. This provides some financial benefits to the group since it can then sell them the toolset it has made. 

While RUBYCARP targets known vulnerabilities and conducts brute force attacks, what makes it more dangerous is its post-exploitation tools and the breadth of its capabilities (i.e., Phishing). Defending against this group requires diligent vulnerability management, a robust security posture, and runtime threat detection. 


This article is shared at no charge and is for educational and informational purposes only.

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