Thursday, July 18, 2024

Chinese APT Hackers “Mustang Panda” Attack Public & Private Sectors Using Weaponized PDF and Word Documents

Researchers discovered an ongoing malware campaign that believed to be operating by a Chinese based threat group called “Mustang Panda” that targets public and private sectors around the world.

Mustang Panda threat group activities initially observed in June 2018, since then attackers improved their campaign activities with unique Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs).

Various targets are focused on this new campaign that includes the Non-profit China Center, Vietnam political party, Southeast Asia residents and the different countries such as Germany, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Vietnam.

Threat actors compromising the targeting with the help of weaponized PDF and word documents that drops via spear-phishing email with VBScript embedded in the “.lnk” file.

Different type of decoy documents was used in this campaign for each and every target based on the infection possibilities and compromised the victims to open it using various social engineering techniques.

Mustang Panda APT Infection Chain

The initial stage of infection starts by delivering the zip file that contains a “.lnk” (Windows Shortcut) file and convinces the victims to open the file by utilization of a double extension trick.

A file called .lnk contains an HTA (HTML Application) with embedded VBScript that drops the main payload of the infection, which is either PlugX and Cobalt Strike payloads or malicious PDF, word documents.

Infection chain (Credits: Anomali)

Researchers from anomali found “similarities in targeting in Mongolia and an NGO. The use of United Nations’ documents regarding activities in the Middle East may also be indicative of think-tank targeting. Furthermore, the use of PlugX malware also aligns with CrowdStrike’s previous findings of activity attributed to Mustang Panda”

There is no clear indication of the distribution method used by Mustang Panda threat groups, but the researchers believe that they are using spearphishing emails to implant the malware into the targeted system.

Researchers uncovered nearly 15 malicious documents that utilized by Mustang Panda in this current ongoing campaign.

“Further analysis of the files led to the identification of other “.lnk” files that were attempting to infect individuals with a Cobalt Strike Beacon (penetration-testing tool) or PlugX (Remote Access Tool (RAT)”

This kind of malicious activity sponsored by China will likely continue as the country expands its efforts for the ongoing Belt and Road Initiative that seeks to invest in infrastructure in over 100 countries, anomali concluded.

You can also read the complete malware analysis tutorials.

Indicator of Compromise




Latest articles

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...

Cybercriminals Exploit Attack on Donald Trump for Crypto Scams

Researchers at Bitdefender Labs remain ever-vigilant, informing users about the latest scams and internet...

New TE.0 HTTP Request Smuggling Flaw Impacts Google Cloud Websites

HTTP Request Smuggling is a flaw in web security that is derived from variations...

Volcano Demon Group Attacking Organizations With LukaLocker Ransomware

The Volcano Demon group has been discovered spreading a new ransomware called LukaLocker, which...
BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.

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