Sunday, July 14, 2024

WIRTE’s Hacker Group Uses Weaponized MS Excel Droppers To Attack High Profile Targets

A state-sponsored hacking group, WIRTE has been active since at least 2019 that targets high-profile public and private entities in the Middle East using weaponized MS Excel 4.0 macros as droppers.

The cyber security researchers at Kaspersky have closely investigated the following things to know the motives of WIRTE:-

  • Campaign
  • Toolset
  • Methods

But, after analyzing the above things they have concluded that the motives of WIRTE are still not clear, but, it has been reported that with the Gaza Cybergang threat actors WIRTE group has some links.

Tricky dropper

And not only that even they have also observed targets in other regions apart from the Middle East. While as compared to other hacking groups, WIRTE has superior skills like:-

  • Better OpSec
  • Better stealthy techniques
  • Better evasion
  • Better persistence

On recipients’ devices the hackers from WIRTE hacking group download and install malware payloads by executing the MS Excel macros that are sent via phishing emails.

Initially, in a hidden column, the Excel dropper runs a series of formulas to enable the editing request. Later, the third spreadsheet with hidden columns runs the dropper and checks the following anti-sandbox checks that we have mentioned below:-

  • Get the name of the environment
  • Check if a mouse is present
  • Check if the host computer can play sounds


The primary focus of the WIRTE:-

  • Government entities
  • Diplomatic entities
  • Financial institutions
  • Law firms
  • Military organizations
  • Technology companies


During the investigation process, the experts have observed several commands and actions that we have mentioned below:-

  • List local disk drives
  • Get the list of installed AV software
  • Check if the current user is an admin
  • Get OS architecture
  • Check for the existence of backdoor services
  • Check for registry keys added for COM hijacking
  • List all installed hotfixes
  • Get a screenshot and save it to %AppData% until the next POST request

Hidden command and control

To hide the actual IP addresses the hackers place their C2 domains behind Cloudflare. However, the security analysts at Kaspersky have managed to identify some that are hosted in the following countries:-

  • Ukraine
  • Estonia

But, the threat actors have used TCP ports 2096 and 2087 along with TCP/443 over HTTPS in C2 communication for their most recent intrusions.

Apart from this, the most serious thing about their actions is that WIRTE hacking group is expanding its targeting scope to several organizations including financial institutes and large private organizations.

That’s why as a recommendation the analysts have strongly recommended organizations to stay alert and develop their security practices to mitigate such situations.

You can follow us on LinkedinTwitterFacebook for daily Cybersecurity updates.


Latest articles

mSpy Data Breach: Millions of Customers’ Data Exposed

mSpy, a widely used phone spyware application, has suffered a significant data breach, exposing...

Advance Auto Parts Cyber Attack: Over 2 Million Users Data Exposed

RALEIGH, NC—Advance Stores Company, Incorporated, a prominent commercial entity in the automotive industry, has...

Hackers Using ClickFix Social Engineering Tactics to Deploy Malware

Cybersecurity researchers at McAfee Labs have uncovered a sophisticated new method of malware delivery,...

Coyote Banking Trojan Attacking Windows Users To Steal Login Details

Hackers use Banking Trojans to steal sensitive financial information. These Trojans can also intercept...

Hackers Created 700+ Fake Domains to Sell Olympic Games Tickets

As the world eagerly anticipates the Olympic Games Paris 2024, a cybersecurity threat has...

Japanese Space Agency Spotted zero-day via Microsoft 365 Services

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed details of a cybersecurity incident that...

Top 10 Active Directory Management Tools – 2024

Active Directory Management Tools are essential for IT administrators to manage and secure Active...
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