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Iranian Hackers Using New PowerShell Backdoor in Cyber Espionage Attacks

Iranian Hackers Using New PowerShell Backdoor in Cyber Espionage Attacks
February 01, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An advanced persistent threat group with links to Iran has updated its malware toolset to include a novel PowerShell-based implant called PowerLess Backdoor , according to new research published by Cybereason. The Boston-headquartered cybersecurity company attributed the malware to a hacking group known as Charming Kitten (aka Phosphorous, APT35, or  TA453 ), while also calling out the backdoor's evasive PowerShell execution. "The PowerShell code runs in the context of a .NET application, thus not launching 'powershell.exe' which enables it to evade security products," Daniel Frank, senior malware researcher at Cybereason,  said . "The toolset analyzed includes extremely modular, multi-staged malware that decrypts and deploys additional payloads in several stages for the sake of both stealth and efficacy." The threat actor, which is active since at least 2017, has been behind a series of campaigns in recent years, including those wherein the adversa

Iranian Hackers Exploit Log4j Vulnerability to Deploy PowerShell Backdoor

Iranian Hackers Exploit Log4j Vulnerability to Deploy PowerShell Backdoor
January 13, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An Iranian state-sponsored actor has been observed scanning and attempting to abuse the Log4Shell flaw in publicly-exposed Java applications to deploy a hitherto undocumented PowerShell-based modular backdoor dubbed " CharmPower " for follow-on post-exploitation. "The actor's attack setup was obviously rushed, as they used the basic open-source tool for the exploitation and based their operations on previous infrastructure, which made the attack easier to detect and attribute," researchers from Check Point  said  in a report published this week. The Israeli cybersecurity company linked the attack to a group known as  APT35 , which is also tracked using the codenames Charming Kitten, Phosphorus, and TA453, citing overlaps with toolsets previously identified as infrastructure used by the threat actor. Log4Shell  aka CVE-2021-44228 (CVSS score: 10.0) concerns a critical security vulnerability in the popular Log4j logging library that, if successfully exploite

Experts Discover Backdoor Deployed on the U.S. Federal Agency's Network

Experts Discover Backdoor Deployed on the U.S. Federal Agency's Network
December 20, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A U.S. federal government commission associated with international rights has been targeted by a backdoor that reportedly compromised its internal network in what the researchers described as a "classic APT-type operation."  "This attack could have given total visibility of the network and complete control of a system and thus could be used as the first step in a multi-stage attack to penetrate this, or other networks more deeply," Czech security company Avast  said  in a report published last week. The name of the federal entity was not disclosed, but reports from  Ars Technica  and  The Record  tied it to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom ( USCIRF ). Avast said it was making its findings public after unsuccessful attempts to directly notify the agency about the intrusion and through other channels put in place by the U.S. government. At this stage, only "parts of the attack puzzle" have been uncovered, leaving the door open for

New EwDoor Botnet Targeting Unpatched AT&T Network Edge Devices

New EwDoor Botnet Targeting Unpatched AT&T Network Edge Devices
December 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A newly discovered botnet capable of staging distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks targeted unpatched Ribbon Communications (formerly Edgewater Networks) EdgeMarc appliances belonging to telecom service provider AT&T by exploiting a four-year-old flaw in the network appliances. Chinese tech giant Qihoo 360's Netlab network security division, which detected the botnet first on October 27, 2021, called it  EwDoor , noting it observed 5,700 compromised IP addresses located in the U.S. during a brief three-hour window. "So far, the EwDoor in our view has undergone three versions of updates, and its main functions can be summarized into two main categories of DDoS attacks and backdoor," the researchers  noted . "Based on the attacked devices are telephone communication related, we presume that its main purpose is DDoS attacks, and gathering of sensitive information, such as call logs." Propagating through a flaw in EdgeMarc devices, EwDoor supports a

Researchers Uncover FIN8's New Backdoor Targeting Financial Institutions

Researchers Uncover FIN8's New Backdoor Targeting Financial Institutions
August 25, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A financially motivated threat actor notorious for setting its sights on retail, hospitality, and entertainment industries has been observed deploying a completely new backdoor on infected systems, indicating the operators are continuously retooling their malware arsenal to avoid detection and stay under the radar. The previously undocumented malware has been dubbed " Sardonic " by Romanian cybersecurity technology company Bitdefender, which it encountered during a  forensic investigation  in the wake of an unsuccessful attack carried out by FIN8 aimed at an unnamed financial institution located in the U.S. Said to be under active development, "Sardonic backdoor is extremely potent and has a wide range of capabilities that help the threat actor leverage new malware on the fly without updating components," Bitdefender researchers Eduard Budaca and Victor Vrabie said in a report shared with The Hacker News. Since emerging on the scene in January 2016, FIN8 has

New SideWalk Backdoor Targets U.S.-based Computer Retail Business

New SideWalk Backdoor Targets U.S.-based Computer Retail Business
August 25, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A computer retail company based in the U.S. was the target of a previously undiscovered implant called SideWalk as part of a recent campaign undertaken by a Chinese advanced persistent threat group primarily known for singling out entities in East and Southeast Asia. Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET attributed the malware to an advanced persistent threat it tracks under the moniker SparklingGoblin, an adversary believed to be connected to the Winnti umbrella group, noting its similarities to another backdoor dubbed  Crosswalk  that was put to use by the same threat actor in 2019. "SideWalk is a modular backdoor that can dynamically load additional modules sent from its C&C [command-and-control] server, makes use of Google Docs as a  dead drop resolver , and  Cloudflare workers  as a C&C server," ESET researchers Thibaut Passilly and Mathieu Tartare  said  in a report published Tuesday. "It can also properly handle communication behind a proxy." Since fir

New Chinese Malware Targeted Russia's Largest Nuclear Submarine Designer

New Chinese Malware Targeted Russia's Largest Nuclear Submarine Designer
May 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A threat actor believed to be working on behalf of Chinese state-sponsored interests was recently observed targeting a Russia-based defense contractor involved in designing nuclear submarines for the naval arm of the Russian Armed Forces. The phishing attack, which singled out a general director working at the Rubin Design Bureau, leveraged the infamous "Royal Road" Rich Text Format (RTF) weaponizer to deliver a previously undocumented Windows backdoor dubbed " PortDoor ," according to Cybereason's Nocturnus threat intelligence team. "Portdoor has multiple functionalities, including the ability to do reconnaissance, target profiling, delivery of additional payloads, privilege escalation, process manipulation static detection antivirus evasion, one-byte XOR encryption, AES-encrypted data exfiltration and more," the researchers  said  in a write-up on Friday. Rubin Design Bureau is a submarine design center located in Saint Petersburg, accounting fo

Gigaset Android Update Server Hacked to Install Malware on Users' Devices

Gigaset Android Update Server Hacked to Install Malware on Users' Devices
April 09, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Gigaset has revealed a malware infection discovered in its Android devices was the result of a compromise of a server belonging to an external update service provider. Impacting older smartphone models — GS100, GS160, GS170, GS180, GS270 (plus), and GS370 (plus) series — the malware took the form of multiple  unwanted apps  that were downloaded and installed through a pre-installed system update app. The infections are said to have occurred starting  March 27 . The German manufacturer of telecommunications devices said it took steps to alert the update service provider of the issue, following which further infections were prevented on April 7. "Measures have been taken to automatically rid infected devices of the malware. In order for this to happen the devices must be connected to the internet (WLAN, WiFi or mobile data). We also recommend connecting the devices to their chargers. Affected devices should automatically be freed from the malware within 8 hours," the comp

Hackers Targeting professionals With 'more_eggs' Malware via LinkedIn Job Offers

Hackers Targeting professionals With 'more_eggs' Malware via LinkedIn Job Offers
April 06, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A new spear-phishing campaign is targeting professionals on LinkedIn with weaponized job offers in an attempt to infect targets with a sophisticated backdoor trojan called "more_eggs." To increase the odds of success, the phishing lures take advantage of malicious ZIP archive files that have the same name as that of the victims' job titles taken from their LinkedIn profiles. "For example, if the LinkedIn member's job is listed as Senior Account Executive—International Freight the malicious zip file would be titled Senior Account Executive—International Freight position (note the 'position' added to the end)," cybersecurity firm eSentire's Threat Response Unit (TRU)  said  in an analysis. "Upon opening the fake job offer, the victim unwittingly initiates the stealthy installation of the fileless backdoor, more_eggs." Campaigns delivering more_eggs using the  same modus operandi  have been spotted at least since 2018, with the backdo

Unveiled: SUNSPOT Malware Was Used to Inject SolarWinds Backdoor

Unveiled: SUNSPOT Malware Was Used to Inject SolarWinds Backdoor
January 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
As the investigation into the SolarWinds supply-chain attack continues, cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a third malware strain that was deployed into the build environment to inject the backdoor into the company's Orion network monitoring platform. Called " Sunspot ," the malignant tool adds to a growing list of previously disclosed malicious software such as Sunburst and Teardrop. "This highly sophisticated and novel code was designed to inject the Sunburst malicious code into the SolarWinds Orion Platform without arousing the suspicion of our software development and build teams," SolarWinds' new CEO Sudhakar Ramakrishna  explained . While  preliminary evidence  found that operators behind the espionage campaign managed to compromise the software build and code signing infrastructure of SolarWinds Orion platform as early as October 2019 to deliver the Sunburst backdoor, the latest findings reveal a new timeline that establishes the first brea

Uncovered: APT 'Hackers For Hire' Target Financial, Entertainment Firms

Uncovered: APT 'Hackers For Hire' Target Financial, Entertainment Firms
November 12, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
A hackers-for-hire operation has been discovered using a strain of previously undocumented malware to target South Asian financial institutions and global entertainment companies. Dubbed " CostaRicto " by Blackberry researchers, the campaign appears to be the handiwork of APT mercenaries who possess bespoke malware tooling and complex VPN proxy and SSH tunneling capabilities. "CostaRicto targets are scattered across different countries in Europe, Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa, but the biggest concentration appears to be in South Asia (especially India, Bangladesh and Singapore and China), suggesting that the threat actor could be based in that region, but working on a wide range of commissions from diverse clients," the researchers said. The modus operandi in itself is quite straight-forward. Upon gaining an initial foothold in the target's environment via stolen credentials, the attacker proceeds to set up an SSH tunnel to download a backdoor and a p

This Asia-Pacific Cyber Espionage Campaign Went Undetected for 5 Years

This Asia-Pacific Cyber Espionage Campaign Went Undetected for 5 Years
May 07, 2020Ravie Lakshmanan
An advanced group of Chinese hackers has recently been spotted to be behind a sustained cyber espionage campaign targeting government entities in Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Brunei—which went undetected for at least five years and is still an ongoing threat. The group, named 'Naikon APT,' once known as one of the most active APTs in Asia until 2015, carried out a string of cyberattacks in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in search of geopolitical intelligence. According to the latest investigation report Check Point researchers shared with The Hacker News, the Naikon APT group had not gone silent for the last 5 years, as initially suspected; instead, it was using a new backdoor, called " Aria-body ," to operate stealthily. "Given the characteristics of the victims and capabilities presented by the group, it is evident that the group's purpose is to gather intelligence and spy on the countries whose governments it

AngelFire: CIA Malware Infects System Boot Sector to Hack Windows PCs

AngelFire: CIA Malware Infects System Boot Sector to Hack Windows PCs
August 31, 2017Swati Khandelwal
A team of hackers at the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency, allegedly used a Windows hacking tool against its targets to gain persistent remote access. As part of its Vault 7 leaks , WikiLeaks today revealed details about a new implant developed by the CIA, dubbed AngelFire , to target computers running Windows operating system. AngelFire framework implants a persistent backdoor on the target Windows computers by modifying their partition boot sector. AngelFire framework consists five following components: 1. Solartime — it modifies the partition boot sector to load and execute the Wolfcreek (kernel code) every time the system boots up. 2. Wolfcreek — a self-loading driver (kernel code that Solartime executes) that loads other drivers and user-mode applications 3. Keystone — a component that utilizes DLL injection technique to execute the malicious user applications directly into system memory without dropping them into the file system. 4. BadMFS — a covert file

Backdoor Found in Popular Server Management Software used by Hundreds of Companies

Backdoor Found in Popular Server Management Software used by Hundreds of Companies
August 16, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Cyber criminals are becoming more adept, innovative, and stealthy with each passing day. They are now adopting more clandestine techniques that come with limitless attack vectors and are harder to detect. Recently, cyber crooks managed to infiltrate the update mechanism for a popular server management software package and altered it to include an advanced backdoor, which lasts for at least 17 days until researchers discovered it. Dubbed ShadowPad , the secret backdoor gave attackers complete control over networks hidden behind legit cryptographically signed software sold by NetSarang —used by hundreds of banks, media firms, energy companies, and pharmaceutical firms, telecommunication providers, transportation and logistics and other industries—for 17 days starting last month. Important Note — If you are using any of the affected product (listed below), we highly recommend you stop using it until you update them. Hacker Injected Backdoor Through Software Update Mechanism

Newly Discovered Mac Malware with Ancient Code Spying on Biotech Firms

Newly Discovered Mac Malware with Ancient Code Spying on Biotech Firms
January 19, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Security researchers have discovered a rare piece of Mac-based espionage malware that relies on outdated coding practices but has been used in some previous real-world attacks to spy on biomedical research center computers. Dubbed Fruitfly , the malware has remained undetected for years on macOS systems despite using unsophisticated and "antiquated code." Infosec firm Malwarebytes discovered Fruitfly, detected as 'OSX.Backdoor.Quimitchin,' after one of its IT administrators spotted some unusual outgoing activity from a particular Mac computer. According to the researchers, the recently discovered what they're calling "the first Mac malware of 2017" contains code that dates before OS X, which has reportedly been conducting detailed surveillance operation on targeted networks, possibly for over two years. Fruitfly uses a hidden pearl script to communicate back to two command-and-control (C&C) servers and has the ability to perform actions l

Dangerous Rootkit found Pre-Installed on nearly 3 Million Android Phones

Dangerous Rootkit found Pre-Installed on nearly 3 Million Android Phones
November 19, 2016Swati Khandelwal
Here's some bad news for Android users again. Nearly 3 Million Android devices worldwide are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks that could allow attackers to remotely execute arbitrary code with root privileges, turning over full control of the devices to hackers. According to a new report from security rating firm BitSight, the issue is due to a vulnerability in the insecure implementation of the OTA (Over-the-Air) update mechanism used by certain low-cost Android devices, including BLU Studio G from US-based Best Buy. Backdoor/Rootkit Comes Pre-installed The vulnerable OTA mechanism, which is associated with Chinese mobile firm Ragentek Group, contains a hidden binary — resides as /system/bin/debugs — that runs with root privileges and communicates over unencrypted channels with three hosts. According to the researchers, this privileged binary not only exposes user-specific information to MITM attackers but also acts as a rootkit, potentially allowing

This $5 Device Can Hack your Password-Protected Computers in Just One Minute

This $5 Device Can Hack your Password-Protected Computers in Just One Minute
November 16, 2016Swati Khandelwal
You need to be more careful next time while leaving your computer unattended at your office, as it cost hackers just $5 and only 30 seconds to hack into any computer. Well-known hardware hacker Samy Kamkar has once again devised a cheap exploit tool, this time that takes just 30 seconds to install a privacy-invading backdoor into your computer, even if it is locked with a strong password. Dubbed PoisonTap , the new exploit tool runs freely available software on a tiny $5/£4 Raspberry Pi Zero microcomputer, which is attached to a USB adapter. The attack works even if the targeted computer is password-protected if a browser is left open in the computer's background. All an attacker need is to plug the nasty device in the target computer and wait. Here's How PoisonTap works: Once plugged into a Windows or Mac computer via USB port, the tiny device starts impersonating a new ethernet connection. Even if the victim's device is connected to a WiFi network, Poi

Bulgaria passes Law that mandates Government Software must be Open Source

Bulgaria passes Law that mandates Government Software must be Open Source
July 07, 2016Mohit Kumar
Do you have any idea what the software you have installed is doing stealthily in the background? If it's not an open source software, can you find out? Usually, the answer is no. After Edward Snowden's revelations, it's clear that how desperately government agencies wants to put secret backdoors in your network, devices, and software. However, Bulgaria has come forward with an all new set of laws that would be appreciated by privacy lovers and open-source community. Also Read:  Top Best Password Managers . The Bulgarian Parliament has passed legislative amendments to its Electronic Governance Act that require all software written for the country's government to be fully open-sourced and developed in the public Github repository . This means that source code of software developed for the Bulgarian government would be accessible to everyone and provided free for use without limitations. Article 58A of the Electronic Governance Act states that administrative

Anti-Encryption Bill Released, would Kill your Privacy and Security

Anti-Encryption Bill Released, would Kill your Privacy and Security
April 14, 2016Swati Khandelwal
The United States anti-encryption bill will kill your Privacy. In the wake of the Apple vs. FBI case, two leading Intelligence Committee Senators have introduced an anti-encryption bill that would effectively ban strong encryption. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the official version of their bill today in response to concerns that criminals and terrorists are increasingly using encrypted devices to hide their plans and plots from authorities. As its name suggests, the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 [ PDF ] would require people and technology firms like Apple and Google to comply with court orders to decrypt phones and its data. The draft copy of the Burr-Feinstein proposal was leaked last week, which has already faced heavy criticism from both the technology and legislative communities. Even the White House has declined to support the bill. The official version of the anti-encryption bill seems to be even wors
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