It has been discovered by security researchers at Securonix that APT37, a North Korean hacking group, has launched a new campaign that is associated with the group. This group targets high-value organizations that are located in the following countries:-
- European countries
- Czech Republic
Hackers are using malware known as Konni, which is a RAT that can be used as an illicit tool in this campaign. In addition to the capability to establish persistent eavesdropping on the host, this RAT is capable of escalating privileges on the host as well.
In 2014, North Korean cyberattacks were attributed to Konni, which has been linked to them ever since. There were several recent spear-phishing campaigns that targeted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including the most recent one.
Campaign & Infection chain
STIFF#BIZON is the name given to the most recent and active campaign in the chain. This campaign uses tactics and methods that are similar to those used by an Advanced Persistent Threat group.
Attacks are carried out by phishing emails that contain an archive attachment containing the following files:-
- A Word document (missile.docx)
- A Windows Shortcut file (_weapons.doc.lnk.lnk)
Upon opening the LNK file, a base64-encoded PowerShell script is found inside the DOCX file that has been created by this script.
As a result, two additional files will be downloaded in order to establish C2 communication between both servers, and they are listed below:-
Now at this point, the document you download is a lure that has been pretended to be a report from a Russian war correspondent, Olga Bozheva. While the process is in progress, a silent operation in the background is being performed by the VBS file to create a scheduled task on the server.
A data exchange link is established between the threat actor and the RAT when the threat actor loads the RAT on the host. Furthermore, it has the capability of carrying out the following illicit activities:-
- Using the Win32 GDI API, it can capture screenshots and then extract them in the form of GZIP files.
- In order for cookies encrypting to be bypassed, the state keys are stored in the Local State file and can be extracted for decrypting the cookie database.
- Using the victim’s web browser, extract the saved credentials.
- Every 10 seconds, it has the ability to launch an interactive shell that can be employed to execute commands remotely.
Connection with APT28!
APT37 seems to be the most suitable candidate for STIFF#BIZON due to the tactics and the toolset being used, however, experts at Securonix acknowledge that APT28 (aka FancyBear) may be involved as well.
In order to hide their tracks and mislead threat analysts, state-sponsored APT groups often duplicate the tactics and tactics of other proficient and sophisticated APT groups.
In such a case, there is a high possibility of misattribution, so there is a significant risk involved.