Attackers targeted west African financial institutions with generic malware and with living off the land tools. The attack appears to be from the mid of 2017 and the recent one was on December 2018.

The hacker group behind the attacks still remain unknown and the attacks targeted organizations in Cameroon, Congo (DR), Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, and Ivory Coast. The attack uses generic malware and use living off the land tactics.

Living off the land tactics is the use of operating system features or legitimate network administration tools to compromise victims’ networks.

Multiple Attack Vectors On
Financial Institutions

Security researchers from Symantec observed four distinct attack campaigns that affected multiple financial institutions in Africa.

NanoCore & PsExec

Attackers used weaponized word documents that referred to be from West African bank, with this campaign attackers infected victims through NanoCore malware and then it was executed using Microsoft Sysinternals tool PsExec on infected computers.

Mimikatz, Cobalt Strike & UltraVNC

The second type of attack uses Mimikatz(Hacking tool), Cobalt Strike(malware) & UltraVNC(remote administration tool).

According to the Symantec report, the attack appears to be started in late 2017 and the attackers use PowerShell scripts to infect victims, uses Mimikatz for credential stuffing and UltraVNC for remote administration. Attackers used Cobalt Strike malware for backdooring on the computer and to establish the connection with C&C server for downloading additional payloads.

financial institutions

Remote Manipulator System RAT, Mimikatz & RDP

The Third type of attack uses Remote Manipulator System RAT(backdoor), Mimikatz(Hacking tool) & RDP(Remote Desktop Protocol).

This type of attack targets organization in Ivory Coast, attackers used Remote Manipulator System RAT along with Mimikatz tool to steal the credentials and the stolen credentials allows attackers to establish a remote desktop connection.

Imminent Monitor RAT

The fourth type of attack uses info stealer Imminent Monitor RAT that steals the information from the compromised computer and downloads additional malware. The attack originated in December 2018 and targets organizations in Ivory Coast.

A growing number of attackers in recent years are adopting “living off the land” tactics—namely the use of operating system features or network administration tools to compromise victims networks, reads Symantec report.

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