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China-linked Hackers Deploy New 'UNAPIMON' Malware for Stealthy Operations

China-linked Hackers Deploy New 'UNAPIMON' Malware for Stealthy Operations
Apr 02, 2024 Cyber Espionage / Threat Intelligence
A threat activity cluster tracked as  Earth Freybug  has been observed using a new malware called UNAPIMON to fly under the radar. "Earth Freybug is a cyberthreat group that has been active since at least 2012 that focuses on espionage and financially motivated activities," Trend Micro security researcher Christopher So  said  in a report published today. "It has been observed to target organizations from various sectors across different countries." The cybersecurity firm has described Earth Freybug as a subset within  APT41 , a China-linked cyber espionage group that's also tracked as Axiom, Brass Typhoon (formerly Barium), Bronze Atlas, HOODOO, Wicked Panda, and Winnti. The adversarial collective is known to rely on a combination of living-off-the-land binaries (LOLBins) and custom malware to realize its goals. Also adopted are techniques like dynamic-link library (DLL) hijacking and application programming interface (API) unhooking. Trend Micro said th

DarkGate Malware Exploited Recently Patched Microsoft Flaw in Zero-Day Attack

DarkGate Malware Exploited Recently Patched Microsoft Flaw in Zero-Day Attack
Mar 14, 2024 Malware / Cyber Attack
A DarkGate malware campaign observed in mid-January 2024 leveraged a recently patched security flaw in Microsoft Windows as a zero-day using bogus software installers. "During this campaign, users were lured using PDFs that contained Google DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM) open redirects that led unsuspecting victims to compromised sites hosting the Microsoft Windows SmartScreen bypass CVE-2024-21412 that led to malicious Microsoft (.MSI) installers," Trend Micro  said . CVE-2024-21412 (CVSS score: 8.1) concerns an internet shortcut files security feature bypass vulnerability that permits an unauthenticated attacker to circumvent SmartScreen protections by tricking a victim into clicking on a specially crafted file. It was  fixed  by Microsoft as part of its Patch Tuesday updates for February 2024, but not before it was weaponized by a threat actor called  Water Hydra  (aka DarkCasino) to deliver the DarkMe malware in attacks targeting financial institutions. The latest finding

Mustang Panda Targets Asia with Advanced PlugX Variant DOPLUGS

Mustang Panda Targets Asia with Advanced PlugX Variant DOPLUGS
Feb 21, 2024 Malware / Cyber Espionage
The China-linked threat actor known as Mustang Panda has targeted various Asian countries using a variant of the PlugX (aka Korplug) backdoor dubbed DOPLUGS. "The piece of customized PlugX malware is dissimilar to the general type of the PlugX malware that contains a completed backdoor command module, and that the former is only used for downloading the latter," Trend Micro researchers Sunny Lu and Pierre Lee  said  in a new technical write-up. Targets of DOPLUGS have been primarily located in Taiwan, and Vietnam, and to a lesser extent in Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, and even China. PlugX is a staple tool of  Mustang Panda , which is also tracked as BASIN, Bronze President, Camaro Dragon, Earth Preta, HoneyMyte, RedDelta, Red Lich, Stately Taurus, TA416, and TEMP.Hex. It's known to be active since at least 2012, although it first came to light in 2017. The threat actor's tradecraft entails carrying out well-forged spear-phishing campaigns that a

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SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike
May 13, 2024Threat Detection / SoC / SIEM
In the last decade, there has been a growing disconnect between front-line analysts and senior management in IT and Cybersecurity. Well-documented challenges facing modern analysts revolve around a high volume of alerts, false positives, poor visibility of technical environments, and analysts spending too much time on manual tasks. The Impact of Alert Fatigue and False Positives  Analysts are overwhelmed with alerts. The knock-on effect of this is that fatigued analysts are at risk of missing key details in incidents, and often conduct time-consuming triaging tasks manually only to end up copying and pasting a generic closing comment into a false positive alert.  It is likely that there will always be false positives. And many would argue that a false positive is better than a false negative. But for proactive actions to be made, we must move closer to the heart of an incident. That requires diving into how analysts conduct the triage and investigation process. SHQ Response Platfo

DarkMe Malware Targets Traders Using Microsoft SmartScreen Zero-Day Vulnerability

DarkMe Malware Targets Traders Using Microsoft SmartScreen Zero-Day Vulnerability
Feb 14, 2024 Zero-Day / Financial Sector Security
A newly disclosed security flaw in the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen has been exploited as a zero-day by an advanced persistent threat actor called  Water Hydra  (aka DarkCasino) targeting financial market traders. Trend Micro, which began tracking the campaign in late December 2023, said it entails the exploitation of CVE-2024-21412, a security bypass vulnerability related to Internet Shortcut Files (.URL).  "In this attack chain, the threat actor leveraged CVE-2024-21412 to bypass Microsoft Defender SmartScreen and infect victims with the DarkMe malware," the cybersecurity firm  said  in a Tuesday report. Microsoft, which  addressed  the flaw in its February Patch Tuesday update, said an unauthenticated attacker could exploit the flaw by sending the targeted user a specially crafted file in order to bypass displayed security checks. However, successful exploitation banks on the prerequisite that the threat actor convinces the victim to click on the file link to view

New PEAPOD Cyberattack Campaign Targeting Women Political Leaders

New PEAPOD Cyberattack Campaign Targeting Women Political Leaders
Oct 13, 2023 Endpoint Security / Cyber Attack
European Union military personnel and political leaders working on gender equality initiatives have emerged as the target of a new campaign that delivers an updated version of RomCom RAT called  PEAPOD . Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro attributed the attacks to a threat actor it tracks under the name  Void Rabisu , which is also known as Storm-0978, Tropical Scorpius, and UNC2596, and is also believed to be associated with Cuba ransomware. The adversarial collective is something of an unusual group in that it conducts both financial motivated and espionage attacks, blurring the line between their modes of operation. It's also exclusively linked to the use of RomCom RAT. Attacks  involving the use of the backdoor  have singled out Ukraine and countries that support Ukraine in its war against Russia over the past year. Earlier this July, Microsoft implicated Void Rabisu to the exploitation of  CVE-2023-36884 , a remote code execution flaw in Office and Windows HTML, by using spe

DarkGate Malware Spreading via Messaging Services Posing as PDF Files

DarkGate Malware Spreading via Messaging Services Posing as PDF Files
Oct 13, 2023 Malware / Cyber Threat
A piece of malware known as  DarkGate  has been observed being spread via instant messaging platforms such as Skype and Microsoft Teams. In these attacks, the messaging apps are used to deliver a Visual Basic for Applications ( VBA ) loader script that masquerades as a PDF document, which, when opened, triggers the download and execution of an AutoIt script designed to launch the malware. "It's unclear how the originating accounts of the instant messaging applications were compromised, however it is hypothesized to be either through leaked credentials available through underground forums or the previous compromise of the parent organization," Trend Micro  said  in a new analysis published Thursday. DarkGate, first documented by Fortinet in November 2018, is a  commodity malware  that incorporates a wide range of features to harvest sensitive data from web browsers, conduct cryptocurrency mining, and allow its operators to remotely control the infected hosts. It also

GitLab Releases Urgent Security Patches for Critical Vulnerability

GitLab Releases Urgent Security Patches for Critical Vulnerability
Sep 20, 2023 Vulnerability / Software Security
GitLab has shipped security patches to resolve a critical flaw that allows an attacker to run pipelines as another user. The issue, tracked as  CVE-2023-5009  (CVSS score: 9.6), impacts all versions of GitLab Enterprise Edition (EE) starting from 13.12 and prior to 16.2.7 as well as from 16.3 and before 16.3.4. "It was possible for an attacker to  run pipelines  as an arbitrary user via scheduled security scan policies," GitLab  said  in an advisory. "This was a bypass of  CVE-2023-3932  showing additional impact." Successful exploitation of CVE-2023-5009 could allow a threat actor to access sensitive information or leverage the elevated permissions of the impersonated user to modify source code or run arbitrary code on the system, leading to severe consequences. Security researcher Johan Carlsson (aka joaxcar) has been credited with discovering and reporting the flaw. CVE-2023-3932 was addressed by GitLab in early August 2023. The new vulnerability has been r

Trend Micro Releases Urgent Fix for Actively Exploited Critical Security Vulnerability

Trend Micro Releases Urgent Fix for Actively Exploited Critical Security Vulnerability
Sep 20, 2023 Zero Day / Vulnerability
Cybersecurity company Trend Micro has  released  patches and hotfixes to address a critical security flaw in Apex One and Worry-Free Business Security solutions for Windows that has been actively exploited in real-world attacks. Tracked as  CVE-2023-41179  (CVSS score: 9.1), it relates to a third-party antivirus uninstaller module that's bundled along with the software. The complete list of impacted products is as follows - Apex One - version 2019 (on-premise), fixed in SP1 Patch 1 (B12380) Apex One as a Service - fixed in SP1 Patch 1 (B12380) and Agent version 14.0.12637 Worry-Free Business Security - version 10.0 SP1, fixed in 10.0 SP1 Patch 2495 Worry-Free Business Security Services - fixed in July 31, 2023, Monthly Maintenance Release Trend Micro said that a successful exploitation of the flaw could allow an attacker to manipulate the component to execute arbitrary commands on an affected installation. However, it requires that the adversary already has administrative

Earth Lusca's New SprySOCKS Linux Backdoor Targets Government Entities

Earth Lusca's New SprySOCKS Linux Backdoor Targets Government Entities
Sep 19, 2023 Endpoint Security / Malware
The China-linked threat actor known as  Earth Lusca  has been observed targeting government entities using a never-before-seen Linux backdoor called SprySOCKS. Earth Lusca was  first documented  by Trend Micro in January 2022, detailing the adversary's attacks against public and private sector entities across Asia, Australia, Europe, North America. Active since 2021, the group has relied on spear-phishing and watering hole attacks to pull off its cyber espionage schemes. Some activities of the group overlap with another threat cluster tracked by Recorded Future under the name  RedHotel . The latest findings from the cybersecurity firm show that Earth Lusca continues to be an active group, even expanding its operations to target organizations across the world during the first half of 2023. Primary targets include government departments that are involved in foreign affairs, technology, and telecommunications. The attacks are concentrated in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the

Earth Estries' Espionage Campaign Targets Governments and Tech Titans Across Continents

Earth Estries' Espionage Campaign Targets Governments and Tech Titans Across Continents
Aug 31, 2023 Cyber Attack / Hacking
A hacking outfit nicknamed  Earth Estries  has been attributed to a new, ongoing cyber espionage campaign targeting government and technology industries based in the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Africa, Germany, and the U.S. "The threat actors behind Earth Estries are working with high-level resources and functioning with sophisticated skills and experience in cyber espionage and illicit activities," Trend Micro researchers Ted Lee, Lenart Bermejo, Hara Hiroaki, Leon M Chang, and Gilbert Sison  said . Active since at least 2020, Earth Estries is said to share tactical overlaps with another nation-state group tracked as  FamousSparrow , which was first exposed by ESET in 2021 as exploiting ProxyLogon flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server to penetrate hospitality, government, engineering, and legal sectors. It's worth pointing out that commonalities have also been unearthed between FamousSparrow and  UNC4841 , an uncategorized activity cluster held responsible for

New Android Malware CherryBlos Utilizing OCR to Steal Sensitive Data

New Android Malware CherryBlos Utilizing OCR to Steal Sensitive Data
Jul 29, 2023 Android / Malware
A new Android malware strain called  CherryBlos  has been observed making use of optical character recognition (OCR) techniques to gather sensitive data stored in pictures. CherryBlos, per  Trend Micro , is distributed via bogus posts on social media platforms and comes with capabilities to steal cryptocurrency wallet-related credentials and act as a  clipper  to substitute wallet addresses when a victim copies a string matching a predefined format is copied to the clipboard. Once installed, the apps seek users' permissions to grant it accessibility permissions, which allows it to automatically grant itself additional permissions as required. As a defense evasion measure, users attempting to kill or uninstall the app by entering the Settings app are redirected back to the home screen. Besides displaying fake overlays on top of legitimate crypto wallet apps to steal credentials and make fraudulent fund transfers to an attacker-controlled address, CherryBlos utilizes OCR to recog

Chinese Hackers Deploy Microsoft-Signed Rootkit to Target Gaming Sector

Chinese Hackers Deploy Microsoft-Signed Rootkit to Target Gaming Sector
Jul 12, 2023 Cyber Threat / Gaming
Cybersecurity researchers have unearthed a novel rootkit signed by Microsoft that's engineered to communicate with an actor-controlled attack infrastructure. Trend Micro has attributed the activity cluster to the same actor that was previously identified as behind the  FiveSys rootkit , which came to light in October 2021. "This malicious actor originates from China and their main victims are the gaming sector in China," Trend Micro's Mahmoud Zohdy, Sherif Magdy, and Mohamed Fahmy  said . "Their malware seems to have passed through the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) process for getting a valid signature." Multiple variants of the rootkit spanning eight different clusters have been discovered, with 75 such drivers signed using Microsoft's WHQL program in 2022 and 2023. Trend Micro's analysis of some of the samples has revealed the presence of debug messages in the source code, indicating that the operation is still in the development and te

Beware of Big Head Ransomware: Spreading Through Fake Windows Updates

Beware of Big Head Ransomware: Spreading Through Fake Windows Updates
Jul 11, 2023 Ransomware / Windows Security
A developing piece of ransomware called  Big Head  is being distributed as part of a malvertising campaign that takes the form of bogus Microsoft Windows updates and Word installers. Big Head was  first documented  by Fortinet FortiGuard Labs last month, when it discovered multiple variants of the ransomware that are designed to encrypt files on victims' machines in exchange for a cryptocurrency payment. "One Big Head ransomware variant displays a fake Windows Update, potentially indicating that the ransomware was also distributed as a fake Windows Update," Fortinet researchers said at the time. "One of the variants has a Microsoft Word icon and was likely distributed as counterfeit software." A majority of the Big Head samples have been submitted so far from the U.S., Spain, France, and Turkey. In a new analysis of the .NET-based ransomware, Trend Micro detailed its inner workings, calling out its ability to deploy three encrypted binaries: 1.exe to propag

RomCom RAT Using Deceptive Web of Rogue Software Sites for Covert Attacks

RomCom RAT Using Deceptive Web of Rogue Software Sites for Covert Attacks
May 31, 2023 Cyber Threat / Malware
The threat actors behind  RomCom RAT  are leveraging a network of fake websites advertising rogue versions of popular software at least since July 2022 to infiltrate targets. Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro is tracking the activity cluster under the name Void Rabisu, which is also known as Tropical Scorpius (Unit 42) and UNC2596 (Mandiant). "These lure sites are most likely only meant for a small number of targets, thus making discovery and analysis more difficult," security researchers Feike Hacquebord, Stephen Hilt, Fernando Merces, and Lord Alfred Remorin  said . Some of the impersonated apps spotted so far include AstraChat, Devolutions' Remote Desktop Manager, Gimp, GoTo Meeting, KeePass, OpenAI ChatGPT, Signal, Veeam Backup & Replication, and WinDirStat. RomCom RAT was  first chronicled  by Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 in August 2022, linking it to a financially motivated group deploying  Cuba Ransomware  (aka COLDDRAW). It's worth noting that there is no

CAPTCHA-Breaking Services with Human Solvers Helping Cybercriminals Defeat Security

CAPTCHA-Breaking Services with Human Solvers Helping Cybercriminals Defeat Security
May 30, 2023
Cybersecurity researchers are warning about CAPTCHA-breaking services that are being offered for sale to bypass systems designed to distinguish legitimate users from bot traffic. "Because cybercriminals are keen on breaking CAPTCHAs accurately, several services that are primarily geared toward this market demand have been created," Trend Micro  said  in a report published last week. "These CAPTCHA-solving services don't use [optical character recognition] techniques or advanced machine learning methods; instead, they break CAPTCHAs by farming out CAPTCHA-breaking tasks to actual human solvers." CAPTCHA  – short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – is a tool for differentiating real human users from automated users with the goal of combating spam and restricting fake account creation. While CAPTCHA mechanisms can be a  disruptive user experience , they are seen as an effective means to counter attacks from bot-ori

Chinese Hacker Group Earth Longzhi Resurfaces with Advanced Malware Tactics

Chinese Hacker Group Earth Longzhi Resurfaces with Advanced Malware Tactics
May 03, 2023 Cyber Espionage / Malware
A Chinese state-sponsored hacking outfit has resurfaced with a new campaign targeting government, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing entities based in Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, and Fiji after more than six months of no activity. Trend Micro  attributed  the intrusion set to a cyber espionage group it tracks under the name  Earth Longzhi , which is a subgroup within  APT41  (aka HOODOO or Winnti) and shares overlaps with various other clusters known as Earth Baku, SparklingGoblin, and GroupCC. Earth Longzhi was  first documented  by the cybersecurity firm in November 2022, detailing its attacks against various organizations located in East and Southeast Asia as well as Ukraine. Attack chains mounted by the threat actor leverage vulnerable public-facing applications as entry points to deploy the  BEHINDER web shell , and then leverage that access to drop additional payloads, including a new variant of a Cobalt Strike loader called CroxLoader. "This recent campa

Crypto-Stealing OpcJacker Malware Targets Users with Fake VPN Service

Crypto-Stealing OpcJacker Malware Targets Users with Fake VPN Service
Apr 03, 2023 United States
A piece of new information-stealing malware called  OpcJacker  has been spotted in the wild since the second half of 2022 as part of a malvertising campaign. "OpcJacker's main functions include keylogging, taking screenshots, stealing sensitive data from browsers, loading additional modules, and replacing cryptocurrency addresses in the clipboard for hijacking purposes," Trend Micro researchers Jaromir Horejsi and Joseph C. Chen  said . The initial vector of the campaign involves a network of fake websites advertising seemingly innocuous software and cryptocurrency-related applications. The February 2023 campaign specifically singled out users in Iran under the pretext of offering a VPN service. The installer files act as a conduit to deploy OpcJacker, which is also capable of delivering next-stage payloads such as  NetSupport RAT  and a hidden virtual network computing ( hVNC ) variant for remote access. OpcJacker is concealed using a  crypter  known as Babadeda an
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