The financially motivated GOLD MELODY threat group has been active at least since 2017, attacking organizations by taking advantage of flaws in unpatched internet-facing servers.
A threat group serves as an initial access broker (IAB) by selling access to organizations that have been compromised to other cybercriminals for their gain.
“The victimology suggests opportunistic attacks for financial gain rather than a targeted campaign conducted by a state-sponsored threat group for espionage, destruction, or disruption,” said SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit (CTU).
Tools Used By The Group
Once within a compromised environment, GOLD MELODY uses proprietary remote access trojans (RATs), web shells, built-in operating system utilities, and tunneling tools. The tools observed are:
Burp Suite Collabfiltrator, IHS Back-Connect backdoor, Wget, Mimikatz, TxPortMap, WinExe, GOTROJ, PAExec, AUDITUNNEL, PuTTY and 7-Zip, Responder.
The behavior seen in five Secureworks IR engagements between July 2020 and July 2022 was linked by researchers to GOLD MELODY.
The attacks observed involved taking advantage of a variety of issues, including those affecting Flexera FlexNet (CVE-2021-4104), Oracle E-Business Suite (CVE-2016-0545), Apache Struts (CVE-2017-5638), Sitecore XP (CVE-2021-42237), and Oracle E-Business Suite (CVE-2016-0545).
Particularly, after breaking into a network by taking advantage of flaws in servers that are accessible over the internet, GOLD MELODY tries to build persistence within the infected network. For persistence, GOLD MELODY deployed JSP web shells.
The threat actors were able to access the server via this web shell and come back frequently to issue commands for reconnaissance. To decode the Base64-encoded web shell in July 2022, the threat actors created a PowerShell script utilizing the Burp Suite Collaborfiltrator extension.
Defense evasion efforts by GOLD MELODY were unsuccessful. In the five intrusions that researchers looked into, early discovery of the malicious activities seems to have stopped the criminal group from accomplishing its goals.
The large number of organizations that GOLD MELODY has targeted implies that the organization poses a serious threat. Its dependence on exploiting flaws in unpatched servers that are accessible through the internet highlights the significance of effective patch management.
Monitoring the perimeter and endpoints is a reliable and efficient method for stopping harmful activities when a group enters the network.