Sunday, July 21, 2024

APT34 Employs Weaponized Word Documents to Deploy New Malware Strain

APT34 is a secretive cyberespionage group specializing in Middle East targets, known for gathering sensitive intelligence via spear phishing and advanced infiltration methods.

The sophistication and comprehensive resources of the APT34 group pose a major regional and global cybersecurity threat. 

They have conducted high-profile cyberattacks in the Middle East against diverse targets:-

  • Government agencies
  • Critical infrastructure
  • Telecommunications
  • Key regional entities

Cybersecurity researchers at Trend Micro recently detected a new APT34-associated malware, which is dubbed Menorah, in an August phishing attack. 

This newly identified malware was delivered via a malicious document and specifically crafted for cyberespionage activities with the following capabilities:-

  • Machine Identification
  • Read files
  • Upload files
  • Download files
  • Download additional malware

Deploy Advanced AI-Powered Email Security Solution

Implementing AI-Powered Email security solutions “Trustifi” can secure your business from today’s most dangerous email threats, such as Email Tracking, Blocking, Modifying, Phishing, Account Take Over, Business Email Compromise, Malware & Ransomware

Infection chain

When a victim opens a malicious document, the infection chain begins, which triggers the creation of a scheduled task that establishes the persistence.

Infection chain
Infection chain (Source – Trend Micro)

While the hidden macros that are present in the document drop a .NET malware named “Menorah.exe” into the following directory:-

  • <%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Office356> 

Next, it schedules Menorah.exe to run under the name “OneDriveStandaloneUpdater,” with some macros handling string manipulation, decoding, and task creation.

Macros for string transformation
Macros for string transformation (Source – Trend Micro)

APT34: Malicious Word Documents

The.NET malware in the malicious document excels at cyberespionage, with skills like fingerprinting, file manipulation, and remote commands.

The latest SideTwist variant boosts stealth with enhanced traffic hashing and starts with a precise argument check. 

Without the argument, the malware stops running, allowing it to evade detection in analytic environments like sandboxes.

Analysts found the C&C server and a timer at http[:]//tecforsc-001-site1[.], used for communication every 32 seconds. The malware fingerprints the machine as {MachineNameUsername}, encoding it to calculate MD5 hash.

The MD5 hash and {MachineNameUsername} format are XORed with a string, encoded in Base64, and sent to the C&C server via an HTTP request as a system fingerprint.

Sending the 'fingerprint' of the victim system
Sending the ‘fingerprint’ of the victim system (Source – Trend Micro)

During analysis, the inactive C&C server was anticipated to return an encrypted message, likely encoded in Base64. 

The decrypted message is split into an array, with each value dictating specific actions by the malware.

The continuous development of APT34 showcases its adaptability. They leverage resources and diverse skills to customize tactics for specific targets, ensuring successful cyber espionage.


  • SHA256: 8a8a7a506fd57bde314coe6154f2484f280049f2bda504d43704b9ad412d5d618
  • Trojan.W97M.SIDETWIST.AB (Detections)
  • SHA256: 64156f9ca51951a9bf91b5b74073d31c16873ca60492c25895c1f0f074787345
  • Trojan.MSIL.SIDETWIST.AA (Detections)


  • hxxp://tecforsc-001-site1[.]gtempurl[.]com/ads.asp

Protect yourself from vulnerabilities using Patch Manager Plus to quickly patch over 850 third-party applications. Take advantage of the free trial to ensure 100% security.


Latest articles

Hackers Claiming Dettol Data Breach: 453,646 users Impacted

A significant data breach has been reported by a threat actor known as 'Hana,'...

CrowdStrike Update Triggers Widespread Windows BSOD Crashes

A recent update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has caused significant disruptions for Windows users,...

Operation Spincaster Disrupts Approval Phishing Technique that Drains Victim’s Wallets

Chainalysis has launched Operation Spincaster, an initiative to disrupt approval phishing scams that have...

Octo Tempest Know for Attacking VMWare ESXi Servers Added RansomHub & Qilin to Its Arsenal

Threat actors often attack VMware ESXi servers since they accommodate many virtual machines, which...

TAG-100 Actors Using Open-Source Tools To Attack Gov & Private Orgs

Hackers exploit open-source tools to execute attacks because they are readily available, well-documented, and...

macOS Users Beware Of Weaponized Meeting App From North Korean Hackers

Meeting apps are often targeted and turned into weapons by hackers as they are...

Hackers Exploiting Legitimate RMM Tools With BugSleep Malware

Since October 2023, MuddyWater, which is an Iranian threat group linked to MOIS, has...
Tushar Subhra Dutta
Tushar Subhra Dutta
Tushar is a Cyber security content editor with a passion for creating captivating and informative content. With years of experience under his belt in Cyber Security, he is covering Cyber Security News, technology and other news.

Free Webinar

Low Rate DDoS Attack

9 of 10 sites on the AppTrana network have faced a DDoS attack in the last 30 days.
Some DDoS attacks could readily be blocked by rate-limiting, IP reputation checks and other basic mitigation methods.
More than 50% of the DDoS attacks are employing botnets to send slow DDoS attacks where millions of IPs are being employed to send one or two requests per minute..
Key takeaways include:

  • The mechanics of a low-DDoS attack
  • Fundamentals of behavioural AI and rate-limiting
  • Surgical mitigation actions to minimize false positives
  • Role of managed services in DDoS monitoring

Related Articles