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North Korean APT43 Group Uses Cybercrime to Fund Espionage Operations

North Korean APT43 Group Uses Cybercrime to Fund Espionage Operations
Mar 29, 2023 Cyber Threat / Espionage
A new North Korean nation-state cyber operator has been attributed to a series of campaigns orchestrated to gather strategic intelligence that aligns with Pyongyang's geopolitical interests since 2018. Google-owned Mandiant, which is tracking the activity cluster under the moniker  APT43 , said the group's motives are both espionage- and financially-motivated, leveraging techniques like  credential harvesting  and social engineering to further its objectives. The monetary angle to its attack campaigns is an attempt on the part of the threat actor to generate funds to meet its "primary mission of collecting strategic intelligence." Victimology patterns suggest that targeting is focused on South Korea, the U.S., Japan, and Europe, spanning government, education, research, policy institutes, business services, and manufacturing sectors. The threat actor was also observed straying off course by striking health-related verticals and pharma companies from October 2020

North Korean UNC2970 Hackers Expands Operations with New Malware Families

North Korean UNC2970 Hackers Expands Operations with New Malware Families
Mar 10, 2023 Cyber Attack / Malware
A North Korean espionage group tracked as  UNC2970  has been observed employing previously undocumented malware families as part of a spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. and European media and technology organizations since June 2022. Google-owned Mandiant said the threat cluster shares "multiple overlaps" with a  long-running   operation   dubbed  " Dream Job " that employs job recruitment lures in email messages to trigger the infection sequence. UNC2970 is the new moniker designated by the threat intelligence firm to a set of North Korean cyber activity that maps to UNC577 (aka Temp.Hermit ), and which also comprises another nascent threat cluster tracked as UNC4034. The UNC4034 activity, as  documented  by Mandiant in September 2022, entailed the use of WhatsApp to socially engineer targets into downloading a  backdoor  called AIRDRY.V2 under the pretext of sharing a skills assessment test. "UNC2970 has a concerted effort towards obfuscation and emp

Hands-on Review: Cynomi AI-powered vCISO Platform

Hands-on Review: Cynomi AI-powered vCISO Platform
Apr 10, 2024vCISO / Risk Assessment
The need for vCISO services is growing. SMBs and SMEs are dealing with more third-party risks, tightening regulatory demands and stringent cyber insurance requirements than ever before. However, they often lack the resources and expertise to hire an in-house security executive team. By outsourcing security and compliance leadership to a vCISO, these organizations can more easily obtain cybersecurity expertise specialized for their industry and strengthen their cybersecurity posture. MSPs and MSSPs looking to meet this growing vCISO demand are often faced with the same challenge. The demand for cybersecurity talent far exceeds the supply. This has led to a competitive market where the costs of hiring and retaining skilled professionals can be prohibitive for MSSPs/MSPs as well. The need to maintain expertise of both security and compliance further exacerbates this challenge. Cynomi, the first AI-driven vCISO platform , can help. Cynomi enables you - MSPs, MSSPs and consulting firms

Lazarus Group Exploits Zero-Day Vulnerability to Hack South Korean Financial Entity

Lazarus Group Exploits Zero-Day Vulnerability to Hack South Korean Financial Entity
Mar 08, 2023 Zero-Day / BYOVD Attack
The North Korea-linked  Lazarus Group  has been observed weaponizing flaws in an undisclosed software to breach a financial business entity in South Korea twice within a span of a year. While the first attack in May 2022 entailed the use of a vulnerable version of a certificate software that's widely used by public institutions and universities, the re-infiltration in October 2022 involved the exploitation of a zero-day in the same program. Cybersecurity firm AhnLab Security Emergency Response Center (ASEC)  said  it's refraining from divulging more specifics owing to the fact that "the vulnerability has not been fully verified yet and a software patch has not been released." The adversarial collective, after obtaining an initial foothold by an unknown method, abused the zero-day bug to perform lateral movement, shortly after which the AhnLab V3 anti-malware engine was disabled via a  BYOVD attack . It's worth noting here that the Bring Your Own Vulnerable D

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Lazarus Group Likely Using New WinorDLL64 Backdoor to Exfiltrate Sensitive Data

Lazarus Group Likely Using New WinorDLL64 Backdoor to Exfiltrate Sensitive Data
Feb 23, 2023 Cyber Threat / Data Security
A new backdoor associated with a malware downloader named  Wslink  has been discovered, with the tool likely used by the notorious North Korea-aligned Lazarus Group, new findings reveal. The payload, dubbed  WinorDLL64  by ESET, is a fully-featured implant that can exfiltrate, overwrite, and delete files; execute PowerShell commands; and obtain comprehensive information about the underlying machine. Its other features comprise listing active sessions, creating and terminating processes, enumerating drives, and compressing directories. Wslink was  first documented  by the Slovak cybersecurity firm in October 2021, describing it as a "simple yet remarkable" malware loader that's capable of executing received modules in memory. "The Wslink payload can be leveraged later for lateral movement, due to its specific interest in network sessions," ESET researcher Vladislav Hrčka  said . "The Wslink loader listens on a port specified in the configuration and can

North Korean Hackers Turn to Credential Harvesting in Latest Wave of Cyberattacks

North Korean Hackers Turn to Credential Harvesting in Latest Wave of Cyberattacks
Jan 25, 2023 Cryptocurrency / Malware
A North Korean nation-state group notorious for crypto heists has been attributed to a new wave of malicious email attacks as part of a "sprawling" credential harvesting activity targeting a number of industry verticals, marking a significant shift in its strategy. The state-aligned threat actor is being tracked by Proofpoint under the name  TA444 , and by the larger cybersecurity community as APT38,  BlueNoroff , Copernicium, and Stardust Chollima. TA444 is "utilizing a wider variety of delivery methods and payloads alongside blockchain-related lures, fake job opportunities at prestigious firms, and salary adjustments to ensnare victims," the enterprise security firm  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. The advanced persistent threat is something of an aberration among state-sponsored groups in that its operations are financially motivated and geared towards generating illicit revenue for the Hermit Kingdom as opposed to espionage and data theft. T

BlueNoroff APT Hackers Using New Ways to Bypass Windows MotW Protection

BlueNoroff APT Hackers Using New Ways to Bypass Windows MotW Protection
Dec 27, 2022 Cyber Attack / Windows Security
BlueNoroff , a subcluster of the notorious Lazarus Group, has been observed adopting new techniques into its playbook that enable it to bypass Windows Mark of the Web ( MotW ) protections. This includes the use of optical disk image (.ISO extension) and virtual hard disk (.VHD extension) file formats as part of a novel infection chain, Kaspersky disclosed in a report published today. "BlueNoroff created numerous fake domains impersonating venture capital companies and banks," security researcher Seongsu Park said , adding the new attack procedure was flagged in its telemetry in September 2022. Some of the bogus domains have been found to imitate ABF Capital, Angel Bridge, ANOBAKA, Bank of America, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, most of which are located in Japan, signalling a "keen interest" in the region. It's worth pointing out that although MotW bypasses have been documented in the wild before, this is the first time they have been incorporated by

North Korea Hackers Using New "Dolphin" Backdoor to Spy on South Korean Targets

North Korea Hackers Using New "Dolphin" Backdoor to Spy on South Korean Targets
Nov 30, 2022
The North Korea-linked  ScarCruft  group has been attributed to a previously undocumented backdoor called Dolphin that the threat actor has used against targets located in its southern counterpart. "The backdoor [...] has a wide range of spying capabilities, including monitoring drives and portable devices and exfiltrating files of interest, keylogging and taking screenshots, and stealing credentials from browsers," ESET researcher Filip Jurčacko  said  in a new report published today. Dolphin is said to be selectively deployed, with the malware using cloud services like Google Drive for data exfiltration as well as command-and-control. The Slovak cybersecurity company said it found the implant deployed as a final-stage payload as part of a watering hole attack in early 2021 directed against a South Korean digital newspaper. The campaign, first uncovered by  Kaspersky  and  Volexity  last year,  entailed  the weaponization of two Internet Explorer flaws ( CVE-2020-1380

North Korean Hackers Targeting Europe and Latin America with Updated DTrack Backdoor

North Korean Hackers Targeting Europe and Latin America with Updated DTrack Backdoor
Nov 17, 2022
Hackers tied to the North Korean government have been observed using an updated version of a backdoor known as Dtrack targeting a wide range of industries in Germany, Brazil, India, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.S. "Dtrack allows criminals to upload, download, start or delete files on the victim host," Kaspersky researchers Konstantin Zykov and Jornt van der Wiel  said  in a report. The victimology patterns indicate an expansion to Europe and Latin America. Sectors targeted by the malware are education, chemical manufacturing, governmental research centers and policy institutes, IT service providers, utility providers, and telecommunication firms. Dtrack, also called Valefor and Preft, is the handiwork of Andariel, a subgroup of the  Lazarus nation-state threat actor  that's publicly tracked by the broader cybersecurity community using the monikers Operation Troy, Silent Chollima, and Stonefly. Discovered in September 2019, the malware

North Korean Hackers Weaponizing Open-Source Software in Latest Cyber Attacks

North Korean Hackers Weaponizing Open-Source Software in Latest Cyber Attacks
Sep 30, 2022
A "highly operational, destructive, and sophisticated nation-state activity group" with ties to North Korea has been weaponizing open source software in their social engineering campaigns aimed at companies around the world since June 2022. Microsoft's threat intelligence teams, alongside LinkedIn Threat Prevention and Defense, attributed the intrusions with high confidence to Zinc, a threat group affiliated with Lazarus which is also tracked under the name Labyrinth Chollima.  Attacks targeted employees in organizations across multiple industries, including media, defense and aerospace, and IT services in the U.S., the U.K., India, and Russia. The tech giant  said  it observed Zinc leveraging a "wide range of open-source software including PuTTY, KiTTY, TightVNC, Sumatra PDF Reader, and muPDF/Subliminal Recording software installer for these attacks." According to  CrowdStrike , Zinc "has been active since 2009 in operations aimed at collecting polit

North Korea's Lazarus Hackers Targeting macOS Users Interested in Crypto Jobs

North Korea's Lazarus Hackers Targeting macOS Users Interested in Crypto Jobs
Sep 27, 2022
The infamous Lazarus Group has continued its pattern of leveraging unsolicited job opportunities to deploy malware targeting Apple's macOS operating system. In the latest variant of the campaign observed by cybersecurity company SentinelOne last week, decoy documents advertising positions for the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange firm Crypto[.]com have been used to mount the attacks. The latest disclosure builds on previous findings from Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET in August, which  delved  into a similar phony job posting for the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange platform. Both these fake job advertisements are just the latest in a series of attacks dubbed  Operation In(ter)ception , which, in turn, is a constituent of a broader campaign tracked under the name  Operation Dream Job . Although the exact distribution vector for the malware remains unknown, it's suspected that potential targets are singled out via direct messages on the business networking site Linke

U.S. Seizes Cryptocurrency Worth $30 Million Stolen by North Korean Hackers

U.S. Seizes Cryptocurrency Worth $30 Million Stolen by North Korean Hackers
Sep 09, 2022
More than $30 million worth of cryptocurrency plundered by the North Korea-linked Lazarus Group from online video game Axie Infinity has been recovered, marking the first time digital assets stolen by the threat actor have been seized. "The seizures represent approximately 10% of the total funds stolen from Axie Infinity (accounting for price differences between time stolen and seized), and demonstrate that it is becoming more difficult for bad actors to successfully cash out their ill-gotten crypto gains," Erin Plante, senior director of investigations at Chainalysis,  said . The development arrives more than five months after the  crypto hack  resulted in the theft of $620 million from the decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Ronin Network, with the attackers laundering a majority of the proceeds – amounting to $455 million – through the Ethereum-based cryptocurrency tumbler Tornado Cash. The March 2022 cryptocurrency heist resulted in losses totaling 173,600 ETH wort

U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward for Information on North Korean Hackers

U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward for Information on North Korean Hackers
Jul 28, 2022
The U.S. State Department has announced rewards of up to $10 million for any information that could help disrupt North Korea's cryptocurrency theft, cyber-espionage, and other illicit state-backed activities. "If you have information on any individuals associated with the North Korean government-linked malicious cyber groups (such as Andariel, APT38, Bluenoroff, Guardians of Peace, Kimsuky, or Lazarus Group) and who are involved in targeting U.S. critical infrastructure in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, you may be eligible for a reward," the department  said  in a tweet. The amount is double the bounty the agency  publicized  in March 2022 for specifics regarding the financial mechanisms employed by state-sponsored actors working on behalf of the North Korean government. The development comes a week after the Justice Department  disclosed  the seizure of $500,000 worth of Bitcoin from North Korean hackers who extorted digital payments by using a new r

FBI Seizes $500,000 Ransomware Payments and Crypto from North Korean Hackers

FBI Seizes $500,000 Ransomware Payments and Crypto from North Korean Hackers
Jul 21, 2022
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced the seizure of $500,000 worth of Bitcoin from North Korean hackers who extorted digital payments from several organizations by using a new ransomware strain known as Maui. "The seized funds include ransoms paid by healthcare providers in Kansas and Colorado," the DoJ  said  in a press release issued Tuesday. The recovery of the bitcoin ransoms comes after the agency said it took control of two cryptocurrency accounts that were used to receive payments to the tune of $100,000 and $120,000 from the medical centers. The DoJ did not disclose where the rest of the payments originated from. "Reporting cyber incidents to law enforcement and cooperating with investigations not only protects the United States, it is also good business," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the DoJ's National Security Division. "The reimbursement to these victims of the ransom shows why it pays to work with law en

State-Backed Hackers Targeting Journalists in Widespread Espionage Campaigns

State-Backed Hackers Targeting Journalists in Widespread Espionage Campaigns
Jul 14, 2022
Nation-state hacking groups aligned with China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkey have been targeting journalists to conduct espionage and spread malware as part of a series of campaigns since early 2021. "Most commonly, phishing attacks targeting journalists are used for espionage or to gain key insights into the inner workings of another government, company, or other area of state-designated import," Proofpoint  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. The ultimate goal of the "sustained" intrusions, the enterprise security firm said, is to gain a competitive intelligence edge or spread disinformation and propaganda. Proofpoint said it identified two Chinese hacking groups, TA412 (aka  Zirconium  or Judgment Panda) and  TA459 , targeting media personnel with malicious emails containing web beacons and weaponized documents respectively that were used to amass information about the recipients' network environments and drop  Chinoxy  malware. In a simila

North Korean Maui Ransomware Actively Targeting U.S. Healthcare Organizations

North Korean Maui Ransomware Actively Targeting U.S. Healthcare Organizations
Jul 07, 2022
In a new joint cybersecurity advisory, U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence agencies have warned about the use of Maui ransomware by North Korean government-backed hackers to target the healthcare sector since at least May 2021. "North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors used Maui ransomware in these incidents to encrypt servers responsible for healthcare services—including electronic health records services, diagnostics services, imaging services, and intranet services," the authorities  noted . The  alert  comes courtesy of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of the Treasury. Cybersecurity firm Stairwell, whose findings formed the basis of the advisory, said the lesser-known ransomware family stands out because of a lack of several key features commonly associated with ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) groups. This includes the absence of "embedded ransom note to provide recov

Hackers Exploiting VMware Horizon to Target South Korea with NukeSped Backdoor

Hackers Exploiting VMware Horizon to Target South Korea with NukeSped Backdoor
May 20, 2022
The North Korea-backed Lazarus Group has been observed leveraging the  Log4Shell vulnerability  in VMware Horizon servers to deploy the NukeSped (aka Manuscrypt) implant against targets located in its southern counterpart. "The attacker used the Log4j vulnerability on VMware Horizon products that were not applied with the security patch," AhnLab Security Emergency Response Center (ASEC)  said  in a new report. The intrusions are said to have been first discovered in April, although  multiple threat actors , including those aligned with  China  and  Iran , have employed the same approach to further their objectives over the past few months. NukeSped is a backdoor that can perform various malicious activities based on commands received from a remote attacker-controlled domain. Last year, Kaspersky disclosed a spear-phishing campaign aimed at stealing critical data from defense companies using a NukeSped variant called  ThreatNeedle . Some of the key functions of the bac

North Korean Hackers Target Journalists with GOLDBACKDOOR Malware

North Korean Hackers Target Journalists with GOLDBACKDOOR Malware
Apr 26, 2022
A state-backed threat actor with ties to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DRPK) has been attributed to a spear-phishing campaign targeting journalists covering the country with the ultimate goal of deploying a backdoor on infected Windows systems. The intrusions, said to be the work of Ricochet Chollima, resulted in the deployment of a novel malware strain called GOLDBACKDOOR, an artifact that shares technical overlaps with another malware named BLUELIGHT, which has been previously linked to the group. "Journalists are high-value targets for hostile governments," cybersecurity firm Stairwell  said  in a report published last week. "Compromising a journalist can provide access to highly-sensitive information and enable additional attacks against their sources." Ricochet Chollima, also known as  APT37 , InkySquid, and ScarCruft, is a North Korean-nexus targeted intrusion adversary that has been involved in espionage attacks since at least 2016. The

FBI, U.S. Treasury and CISA Warn of North Korean Hackers Targeting Blockchain Companies

FBI, U.S. Treasury and CISA Warn of North Korean Hackers Targeting Blockchain Companies
Apr 19, 2022
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Treasury Department, warned of a new set of ongoing cyber attacks carried out by the Lazarus Group targeting blockchain companies. Calling the activity cluster  TraderTraitor , the infiltrations involve the North Korean state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) actor striking entities operating in the Web3.0 industry since at least 2020. Targeted organizations include cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, play-to-earn cryptocurrency video games, cryptocurrency trading companies, venture capital funds investing in cryptocurrency, and individual holders of large amounts of cryptocurrency or valuable non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The attack chains commence with the threat actor reaching out to victims via different communication platforms to lure them into downloading weaponized cryptocurrency apps for Windows and macOS, subse
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