Cicada: Chinese APT Group Widens Targeting in Recent Espionage Activity

In several cases, the initial activity on victim networks is seen on Microsoft Exchange Servers, suggesting the possibility that a known, unpatched vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange may have been used to gain access to victim networks in some cases.

Once the attackers have successfully gained access to victim machines we observe them deploying various different tools, including a custom loader and the Sodamaster backdoor.
The loader deployed in this campaign was also deployed in a previous Cicada attack.

Sodamaster is a known Cicada tool that is believed to be exclusively used by this group.
It is a fileless malware that is capable of multiple functions, including evading detection in a sandbox by checking for a registry key or delaying execution; enumerating the username, hostname, and operating system of targeted systems; searching for running processes, and downloading and executing additional payloads.
It is also capable of obfuscating and encrypting traffic that it sends back to its command-and-control (C&C) server.
It is a powerful backdoor that Cicada has been using since at least 2020.

In this campaign, the attackers are also seen dumping credentials, including by using a custom Mimikatz loader.
This version of Mimikatz drops mimilib.dll to obtain credentials in plain text for any user that is accessing the compromised host and provides persistence across reboots.

The attackers also exploit the legitimate VLC Media Player by launching a custom loader via the VLC Exports function, and use the WinVNC tool for remote control of victim machines.

Other tools utilized in this attack campaign include:

RAR archiving tool – can be used to compress, encrypt, or archive files, likely for exfiltration.
System/Network discovery – a way for attackers to determine what systems or services are connected to an infected machine.
WMIExec – Microsoft command-line tool that can be used to execute commands on remote computers.
NBTScan – an open-source tool that has been observed being used by APT groups to conduct internal reconnaissance within a compromised network.

Sign Up For Threat Alerts

Loading...
Threats Icon

May 25, 2022

Twisted Panda: Chinese APT espionage operation against...

Check Point Research (CPR) details a targeted campaign that has been using sanctions-related baits to...

Threats Icon

May 23, 2022

A deeper look at XorDdos malware targeting...

In the last six months, we observed a 254% increase in activity from a Linux...

Threats Icon

May 22, 2022

Ransomware Spotlight RansomEXX

RansomEXX is another ransomware variant that runs on a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model and has been...

Threats Icon

May 19, 2022

Malicious Compiled HTML Help File Delivering Agent...

PaloAlto Unit42 discovered a malicious HTML help file delivering Agent Tesla. The attack is interesting...

Threats Icon

May 16, 2022

BPFdoor: Stealthy Linux malware bypasses firewalls for...

A recently discovered backdoor malware called BPFdoor has been stealthily targeting Linux and Solaris systems...

Threats Icon

May 16, 2022

Onyx ransomware destroys files instead of encrypting...

A new Onyx ransomware operation is destroying files larger than 2MB instead of encrypting them,...

Threats Icon

May 15, 2022

Researchers Warn of Nerbian RAT Targeting Entities...

A previously undocumented remote access trojan (RAT) written in the Go programming language has been...

Threats Icon

May 12, 2022

Bitter APT targets Bangladesh

Cisco Talos has observed an ongoing malicious campaign from the Bitter APT group that appears...

Threats Icon

May 11, 2022

Experts Sound Alarm on DCRat Backdoor Being...

Cybersecurity researchers have shed light on an actively maintained remote access trojan called DCRat (aka...

Threats Icon

May 11, 2022

The Lotus Panda is awake, again

In this attack analyzed by C25, the Chinese APT used a spear phishing email to...

Threats Icon

May 09, 2022

Moshen Dragon – Abusing Security Software to...

SentinelLabs recently uncovered a cluster of activity targeting the telecommunication sector in Central Asia, utilizing...

Threats Icon

May 09, 2022

AvosLocker Ransomware Abuses Driver File to Disable...

TrendMicro found samples of AvosLocker ransomware that makes use of a legitimate driver file to...

Threats Icon

May 02, 2022

LockBit Ransomware Side-loads Cobalt Strike Beacon

The VMware command line utility VMwareXferlogs.exe used for data transfer to and from VMX logs...

Threats Icon

May 02, 2022

Emotet Returns With New TTPs And Delivers...

The epoch4 Emotet server started spamming and delivering zipped .lnk files to its victims through...

Threats Icon

Apr 28, 2022

BRONZE PRESIDENT

Government-sponsored threat actors collect intelligence to benefit their country, and changes to the political landscape...