New Espionage Campaign Targets South East Asia

The toolset used by the attackers includes loaders, a modular backdoor, a keylogger, and an exfiltration tool designed to abuse cloud storage service Dropbox.

The initial infection vector employed by the attackers remains unknown. The earliest sign of attempted compromise is a loader that decrypts and loads a payload from a .dat file.
At least two different file names have been observed for the .dat file: sdc-integrity.dat and scs-integrity.dat.
The loader also calls the DumpAnalyze export from the decrypted payload.

The payload has yet to be identified but is almost certainly a modular backdoor.
This can be inferred from one of the modules identified.
This “Orchestrator” module points to the existence of a separate DLL module that exposes at least 16 functions, as well as the existence of a custom binary command and control (C&C) protocol used by Orchestrator but implemented separately.

This module appears to be a core component of the backdoor. It runs as a Windows service and a large part of its functionality is implemented in a separate DLL that is loaded from registry (located in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.zOpenWithProgidsEx).

The module is expected to export the following functions:

Construct
ConnectHost1
ForceCloseSocket
Accept
Recv
RecvEx
Send
SendEx
BindShell
TransmitData_htran
KillChildenProcessTree (sic)
ExtractIPToConnect
ExtractIPToConnect1
GetDeviceInfoString1
GetPseudoSocketInfo
Decrypt_ByteToByte
The module loads a configuration either from a file (CSIDL_COMMON_APPDATAMicrosoftCryptoRSAKeys.dat) or from the registry (HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.zOpenWithProgidsExCONFIG). The configuration is encrypted. The module uses the function Decrypt_ByteToByte from the separate DLL to decrypt the configuration. The configuration is expected to contain the following options (stored in XML format):

FLAG
Ip
Dns
CntPort
LstPort
Blog
DropboxBlog
SvcName
SvcDisp
SvcDesc
SvcDll
OlPass
OlTime
SelfDestroy
The module also uses the hardcoded mutex name, GlobalQVomit4.

Other tools used in the campaign include a keylogger, which shows signs of being authored by the same developer, sharing unique strings with other tools and string obfuscation techniques. The attackers also used 7zr, a legitimate tool that is a lightweight version of the 7-Zip archiver, in addition to a data-exfiltration tool that sends stolen data to Dropbox.

The nature of the targets and the tools used have all the hallmarks of an espionage operation.
Symantec has yet to attribute the attacks to a known actor and it appears that the attackers took some steps to complicate attribution.
For example, it is not clear what language the group speaks and samples of the backdoor module found contained strings in what appeared to be both Cyrillic and Urdu scripts.

The only potential clue found to date is that one of the organizations attacked was also targeted by a tool used by the China-linked Leafhopper group (aka APT30) during the same time period. However, there is no evidence as yet to tie the tool to this campaign.

Sign Up For Threat Alerts

Loading...
Threats Icon

Jan 29, 2023

APT15 Targets Multiple Sectors With Turian Backdoor

APT15, also known as Playful Taurus, is an advanced persistent threat (APT) that conducts a...

Threats Icon

Jan 26, 2023

Vice Society Ransomware Group Targets Manufacturing Companies

The Vice Society threat group was discovered targeting multiple sectors including manufacturing companies in Brazil....

Threats Icon

Jan 26, 2023

US Cert Alert – Alert (AA23-025A) Protecting...

Although this campaign appears financially motivated, the authoring organizations assess it could lead to additional...

Threats Icon

Jan 25, 2023

Emotet Malware Makes a Comeback with New...

The Emotet malware operation has continued to refine its tactics in an effort to fly...

Threats Icon

Jan 25, 2023

DragonSpark

The DragonSpark attacks represent the first concrete malicious activity where Analysts observe the consistent use...

Threats Icon

Jan 25, 2023

PLAY Ransomware

PLAY is simple but heavily obfuscated with a lot of unique tricks that have not...

Threats Icon

Jan 24, 2023

Gamaredon Abuses Telegram To Target Ukrainian Government...

The Gamaredon APT group was discovered targeting Ukrainian government entities using the Telegram messaging service...

Threats Icon

Jan 23, 2023

NeedleDropper: A New Dropper-as-a-Service Uncovered

Avast's Threat Research Team has since October 2022 been observing a new strain of dropper...

Threats Icon

Jan 22, 2023

Aurora Stealer Leverages Shapeshifting Tactics And Popular...

A threat actor was discovered mimicking legitimate websites to host and deliver the 9002 RAT,...

Threats Icon

Jan 19, 2023

Earth Bogle Campaign Targets Entities With Geopolitical...

Middle Eastern geopolitical themed lures were used to distribute njRAT across the Middle East and...

Threats Icon

Jan 18, 2023

The NoName057(16) Hacktivist Group Targets Ukraine Supporters...

The NoName057(16) hacktivist group targeted multiple sectors across Ukraine and neighboring countries with DDoS attacks....

Threats Icon

Jan 17, 2023

Italy Targeted By Information Stealer Malware

An un-named information stealer was targeting end users in Italy through a phishing campaign using...

Threats Icon

Jan 15, 2023

The Australian healthcare industry was targeted by...

The Australian healthcare industry was targeted by the Gootkit loader malware; initial access was gained...

Threats Icon

Jan 11, 2023

Shc Linux Malware Used To Install XMRig...

External facing Linux servers in South Korea were targeted with a Shc (Shell Script Compiler)...

Threats Icon

Jan 11, 2023

Dridex Returns To Target MacOS With Updated...

Threat actors have been seen targeting Mac users with the Dridex malware. Although the malware...