Operation Sharpshooter

Security researchers from McAfee linked the global campaign dubbed Operation Sharpshooter to the infamous Lazarus Hacker Group. Sharpshooter campaign targets primarily on financial services, government, and critical infrastructure.

The campaign was first identified in 2018, but according to the new analysis report, the campaign started as early as September 2017. Attackers targets broader set of organizations with the weaponized word documents disguised as a job recruiter that downloads Sharpshooter downloader into the memory of Microsoft Word.

Then the injected downloader downloads the second stage of the payload dubbed Rising Sun malware which utilizes the source code of the Trojan Duuzer belongs to Lazarus Hacker Group.

The Rising Sun implant is a fully functional modular backdoor that performs reconnaissance on the victim’s network. It collects the following information from the machine such as Network adapter Computer name, username, IP address information, Native system information and OS product name.

“McAfee Advanced Threat Research analysis of the command-and-control server’s code and data provides greater insight into how the perpetrators behind Sharpshooter developed and configured control infrastructure; how they distributed the malware; and how they stealthily tested campaigns prior to launch,” said Raj Samani, McAfee Fellow, and chief scientist.

Based on the analysis researchers found the evidence of similarities between the “technical indicators, techniques and procedures exhibited in these 2018 Sharpshooter attacks, and aspects of multiple other groups of attacks attributed by the industry to the Lazarus Group.”

Key Findings – Operation Sharpshooter

By analyzing the code of C2 servers researchers able to uncover the new variants of Rising Sun (v1.0, v1.1, and v2.0) that used since 2016.

Attackers maintained a C2 server with the core backend written in Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) and Active Server Pages (ASP) that appears unique for the group.

Analysis of command-and-control server code reveals that an uncovered IP addresses from the city of Windhoek, located in Africa. Researchers suspect “that the actors behind Sharpshooter may have tested their implants and other techniques in this area of the world prior to launching their broader campaign of attacks.”

The design and execution of Operation Sharpshooter overlap several other campaigns that attribute to Lazarus Group.

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