Monday, December 4, 2023

Gelsemium Hacker Group Attack Governments, Universities Using Various Hacking Tools

The cybersecurity researchers have started analyzing different campaigns since 2020, however, during the investigation, the experts of the ESET research team have recently found some details regarding the APT hacking group named Gelsemium.

This group is believed to be entangled in the supply chain attack that is targeting the NoxPlayer Android emulator which was revealed earlier this year.

and the hackers have used a wide range of malware in this attack, which includes a custom-built implant called Gelsevirine. 

Not only this the Gelsemium APT group have been behind various attacks against different targets that belong from the Middle East and Eastern Asia, among all the target the notable one is the BigNox.

Gelsemium elements

At first, the researchers thought that Gelsemium’s whole chain was quite simple, later they came to know that it had an exhaustive configuration. 

However, after a proper investigation, the experts confirmed that the hackers have implanted the configuration at every stage.

Not only this but to make the attack harder to understand for the researchers, the hackers have modified on-the-fly settings for the final payload. The experts have found some elements in this attack and here we have listed them below:-

  • Gelsemine: The dropper
  • Gelsenicine: The loader
  • Gelsevirine: The main plug-in

Gelsemine: According to the experts, this element is the initial stage of the attack, which is written in C++ and contains different further stages’ of binaries. However, the size of the droppers keeps increasing, that’s why the developers use the Zlib library, to diminish the overall size of the dropper.

Gelsenicine: It has a loader that generally retrieves Gelsevirine that is the third element and helps it in execution. In this attack, the hackers have two versions of the loader, but both the version are DLLs.

Gelsevirine: The last element is Gelsevirine, and it is also known as MainPlugin. However, this last stage has been set up by Gelsenicine, as it won’t run flawlessly because it needs its arguments subsequently. 


According to the past reports, the APT group Gelsemium has attacked a small number of targets as it was involved in cyberespionage.

However, in the current attack, the threat actors of this group have targeted a large number of victims such as governmental institutions, electronics

manufacturers, universities, and even religious organizations were also attacked in Eastern Asia and the Middle East.

Tools used

  • Operation NightScout
  • OwlProxy
  • Chrommme

Apart from all these things, the security analysts also came to know that the attack vectors of this APT hacking group also include phishing emails along with a malicious attachment in the form of a Microsoft Office document.

However, this malicious attachment exploits the vulnerability CVE-2012-0158, that generally enables all kind of remote code execution. Moreover, the tool Operation NightScout has affected a small number of targets in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka.

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BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.

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