A country-condition actor with back links to China is suspected of staying at the rear of a collection of attacks against industrial organizations in Eastern Europe that took location past 12 months to siphon data saved on air-gapped methods.
Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky attributed the intrusions with medium to higher self-assurance to a hacking crew termed APT31, which is also tracked less than the monikers Bronze Vinewood, Judgement Panda and Violet Typhoon (previously Zirconium), citing commonalities in the strategies observed.
The attacks entailed the use of extra than 15 distinctive implants and their variants, broken down into 3 broad categories primarily based on their skill to set up persistent remote accessibility, get delicate info, and transmit the collected facts to actor-managed infrastructure.
“Just one of the implant forms appeared to be a subtle modular malware, aimed at profiling removable drives and contaminating them with a worm to exfiltrate details from isolated, or air-gapped, networks of industrial businesses in Eastern Europe,” Kaspersky claimed.
“The other style of implant is made for stealing information from a local laptop and sending it to Dropbox with the support of the subsequent-phase implants.”
A person set of backdoors includes different variations of a malware spouse and children known as FourteenHi that have been put to use considering the fact that at the very least mid-March 2021 and which appear with a broad spectrum of characteristics to upload and download arbitrary data files, operate instructions, begin a reverse shell, and erase their possess existence from the compromised hosts.
A next initial-phase backdoor used for remote obtain and initial info collecting is MeatBall, which possesses capabilities to listing managing procedures, enumerate linked products, execute file functions, capture screenshots, and self-update alone.
Also found is a 3rd sort of initial-stage implant that helps make use of Yandex Cloud for command-and-regulate, mirroring very similar results from Constructive Technologies in August 2022 detailing APT31 attacks focusing on Russian media and energy organizations.
“The inclination to abuse cloud expert services (e.g., Dropbox, Yandex, Google, etcetera.) is not new, but it carries on to increase, since it is difficult to prohibit / mitigate in scenarios when an organization’s business enterprise procedures rely on using this kind of products and services,” Kaspersky scientists reported.
“Risk actors continue to keep creating it much more tricky to detect and analyze threats by hiding payloads in encrypted kind in individual binary details files and by hiding destructive code in the memory of authentic apps via DLL hijacking and a chain of memory injections.”
APT31 has also been observed utilizing focused implants for gathering regional information as nicely as exfiltrating facts from air-gapped programs by infecting detachable drives.
The latter malware strain consists of at minimum a few modules, with each and every element liable for distinct duties, this kind of as profiling and managing detachable drives, recording keystrokes and screenshots, and planting next-step malware on freshly related drives.
“The risk actor’s deliberate attempts to obfuscate their actions through encrypted payloads, memory injections, and DLL hijacking [underscore] the sophistication of their methods,” Kirill Kruglov, senior security researcher at Kaspersky ICS CERT, reported.
“Despite the fact that exfiltrating information from air-gapped networks is a recurrent tactic adopted by lots of APTs and targeted cyberespionage campaigns, this time it has been made and carried out uniquely by the actor.”
Whilst the aforementioned attack chains are expressly engineered for the Windows setting, there is proof that APT31 has set its sights on Linux methods as properly.
Previously this month, the AhnLab Security Emergency Reaction Center (ASEC) uncovered attacks very likely carried out by the adversary against South Korean businesses with the objective of infecting the machines with a backdoor termed Rekoobe.
“Rekoobe is a backdoor that can receive instructions from a [command-and-control] server to carry out several characteristics such as downloading destructive files, stealing inner information from a method, and executing reverse shell,” ASEC reported.
“When it may possibly seem uncomplicated in structure, it employs encryption to evade network packet detection and can execute a assortment of malicious behaviors by commands from the threat actor.”
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