When I looked on recent public submissions on Any.Run this week, my attention was attracted by XWorm samples with tags “stegocampaign”. Quick review of analysis reports reveal simple, yet interesting infection chain. It contains Visual Basic script, PowerShell script, picture with Base64-encoded executable and the XWorm RAT itself. Those payloads have been downloaded from online hosting services such as Pastebin or Firebase. Moreover, they have been downloaded via HTTPs, so basic network analysis does not reveal the content nor the URL links, however, there are some simple methods how to reveal the real URLs.

Fig. 1: Execution of VBS script from stegocampaign leading to XWorm RAT

Let’s start with the submitted sample - VBS file which was executed by wscript.exe, see Fig. 1. It is short Visual Basic script, it is obfuscated, but still pretty readable, as we can see in the Figure 2.

Fig. 2: Easy obfuscation of Visual Basic script. It downloads and executes payload

The script creates MSXML2.XMLHTTP object for downloading payload and then executes it with ExecuteGlobal. The URL address of the payload is obfuscated, it is concatenated from the ASCII characters converted from their values by function luxento. And really, we can see that wscript.exe process initiates network connection to pastebin.com (Fig. 3). But because this is an encrypted HTTPS request (port 443), we can not see the exact URL.

Fig. 3: Encrypted connection to pastebin.com from wscript.exe

When we want to reveal the URL, we have several options now: we can deobfuscate the VBS script manually, we can extract the URL from the memory of wscript.exe, or we can trace the script execution (Any.Run recently added support for Script Tracer) or we can use SSL/TLS proxy.

The Script Tracer already catches the XMLHTTP Request mentioned before and it can quickly reveal its parameters such as GET method and the URL (Fig. 4). This allows us to quickly extract observables, which could be then used as Indicators of Compromise (IOC) for incident response and threat hunting.

Fig. 4: XMLHTTP Request and Pastebin URL detected by Script Tracer

The payload hosted at Pastebin (Fig 5.) is little bit more obfuscated this time, however, it is still possible to see fragments of strings such as “powershell”, “command”, “Frombase64string”. It also contains the long Base64-encoded string. After two layers of deobfuscation, this string is decodedn and then executed as another PowerShell command.

Fig. 5: Obfuscated payload from Pastebin
Fig. 6: PowerShell command to download steganography images

Examining the commandline of the second PowerShell from Figure 1, we can see the links to some images. They are downloaded and the malware checks the presence of the two markers <<BASE64_START>> and <<BASE64_END>> in the image data (Fig. 6). Now we reach the Steganography part of the analysis: while the downloaded JPG files are images (Fig. 7), they also contain some additional payload. By replicating the same process with CyberChef, we can extract the Portable Executable file from the stego images. The Portable Executable files (such as .EXE and .DLL files) start with MZ header (4D 5A in hexadecimal) followed by PE header (Fig. 8).

Fig. 7: Downloaded steganography image
Fig. 8: Extracting and decoding Portable Executable file from steganography image

The decoded Portable Executable is then loaded as assembly and executed in memory, as we can see in Script Tracer (Fig. 9). This Portable Executable is classified by VirusTotal as downloader, and yes, the executed method accepts several parameters - reversed URL, and destination file name. It is used to download .txt file from Firebase, which contains reversed Base64-encoded string. Then it is decoded and saved as file “AddinProcess32.exe” (Fig. 10).

Fig. 9: Decoding and loading the Portable Executable file from steganography image
Fig. 10: Downloading file davmxworm010301.txt from Firebase
Fig. 11: File davmxworm010301.txt from Firebase contains reversed Base64-encoded string

After decoding the reversed Base64-encoded string from Firebase file davmxworm010301.txt, we get Portable Executable file, again. It is detected by VirusTotal as XWorm, which is also confirmed by Any.Run detections and extraction of its config file (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12: XWorm configuration extracted by Any.Run

Indicators of Compromise

SHA256 hashes

  • 4a3ec6f4f6b79baeabd7d0c4a9f4e043693fa72062573e252d53b70ce3d929a4
    • original VBS script
  • e73c5806a34a79c3cc11450cc560b40c75a7767c65745b68ba9160edd33396c2
    • downloader from stego image
  • c148ccd6f7623a64d985d3bcc8e882879164b190211ba99661d26152c0dbc4dd
    • XWorm exectable


  • hxxps[://]pastebin[.]com/raw/nhAKyGUv
    • VBS payload
  • hxxps[://]uploaddeimagens[.]com[.]br/images/004/755/997/original/new_image_r[.]jpg?1710413993
    • stego image with downloader
  • hxxps[://]firebasestorage[.]googleapis[.]com/v0/b/invoice-system-83046[.]appspot[.]com/o/davmxworm010301[.]txt?alt=media&token=2aa21e70-ec51-49a0-82c4-2296e06d1648
    • encoded XWorm
  • xwormchina1203[.]duckdns[.]org:7000
    • XWorm C2


  • xwormchina1203[.]duckdns[.]org
    • XWorm C2

IP addresses

  • 34[.]216[.]89[.]67
    • XWorm C2


  • 5fSP6zuPZLTmuYDh
    • XWorm Mutex