10 Feb The Careto/Mask APT: Frequently Asked Questions GReAT
03 Feb A Glimpse Behind "The Mask" GReAT
14 Jan The Icefog APT Hits US Targets With Java Backdoor Costin Raiu
18 Dec Destructive Malware – Five Wipers in the Spotlight Costin Raiu
10 Dec Microsoft Updates December 2013 - Patching Critical 0day Exploited in the Wild Kurt Baumgartner
05 Dec Corporate threats in 2013 - the expert opinion GReAT
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The Mask is an advanced threat actor that has been involved in cyber-espionage operations since at least 2007.
What makes The Mask special is the complexity of the toolset used by the attackers. This includes an extremely sophisticated piece of malware, a rootkit, a bootkit, Mac OS X and Linux versions and possibly versions for Android and iPad/iPhone (iOS).
The Mask also uses a customized attack against older Kaspersky Lab products in order to hide in the system. This puts it above Duqu in terms of sophistication, making The Mask one of the most advanced threats at the current time. This and several other factors make us believe this could be a state-sponsored operation.
In early 2013, we announced our research on RedOctober, a cyberespionage operation focusing on diplomatic institutions. In June 2013, we published our research on NetTraveler, and in September, our research on the Kimsuky attacks.
Our analysis of all these different APT operations indicated an unique use of languages, that offer clues regarding some of the people behind these operations. If the comments in the Flame C&C were written in English, artifacts in RedOctober indicated Russian speakers, NetTraveler indicated Chinese natives. Finally, Kimsuky indicated Korean speaking authors, which we linked to North Korea.
During the past months we have been busy analysing yet another sophisticated cyberespionage operation which has been going on at least since 2007, infecting victims in 27 countries. We deemed this operation "The Mask" for reasons to be explained later.
In September 2013, we published our extensive analysis of Icefog, an APT campaign that focused on the supply chain – targeting government institutions, military contractors, maritime and ship-building groups.
Icefog, also known as the "Dagger Panda" by Crowdstrike's naming convention, infected targets mainly in South Korea and Japan. You can find our Icefog APT analysis and detailed report here.
Since the publication of our report, the Icefog attackers went completely dark, shutting down all known command-and-control servers. Nevertheless, we continued to monitor the operation by sinkholing domains and analysing victim connections. During this monitoring, we observed an interesting type of connection which seemed to indicate a Java version of Icefog, further to be referenced as "Javafog".
The Icefog operation has been operational since at least 2011, with many different variants released during this time. For Microsoft Windows PCs, we identified at least 6 different generations:
In addition to these, we also identified "Macfog", a native Mac OS X implementation of Icefog that infected several hundred victims worldwide.
Every single day, Kaspersky Lab processes more than 300,000 new malware samples. The vast majority of these malicious files is what we call crimeware -- computer programs designed for financial profit and used by cyber-criminals to make money. From the remaining percentage, a small amount are designed exclusively for cyber-espionage and used by a variety of advanced threat actors.
What is left is an even smaller percentage of the total and includes rare, unusual things. Wipers, which are highly destructive programs, are some of the rarest kinds of malware, however, their usage has spiked over the last few years.
Back in the old days, most of the malware was written by computer enthusiasts, cyber-hooligans and pranksters. Hence, destructive viruses, or Trojans, were much more common. Some examples include BadSectors, a computer virus that would mark disk sectors as bad, even if they weren’t, resulting in subtle corruption of data. Another example was OneHalf, a computer virus that would encrypt the hard drive cylinder-by-cylinder, transparently decrypting it on the fly while active. If one were to remove the virus,that would leave the data on the disk in encrypted format, without an easy way to decrypt it.
Perhaps the best known example is CIH, also known as Chernobyl. CIH, named after the initials of its author, Chen Ing-hau, was a computer virus that had the ability to wipe the BIOS flash memory. Computers affected by CIH couldn’t boot up anymore. This wasn’t a major problem for PCs, which had the BIOS memory in the form of a removal chip that could be reprogrammed on another system; however, for laptop owners, the CIH virus was quite destructive.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a number of major incidents involving destructive malware. We’ve decided to put together a brief summary the most important Wiper incidents:
In late-2011, early-2012, reports emerged about computer systems that were compromised and rendered unbootable. The extent of the damage to these systems was so big that almost no data was recoverable. Some artefacts from the wiped systems indicated a possible link with Stuxnet and Duqu; however, these were never proven. The malware responsible for these attacks was named the "Wiper"; we wrote about it here.
Eight Microsoft Security Bulletins are being pushed out this month, MS13-096 through MS13-106. Five of them are rated "Critical" and another six are rated "Important". The top priorities to roll out this month are the critical GDI+ (MS13-096), Internet Explorer (MS13-097), and Scripting Runtime (MS13-099) updates.
Several of the vulnerabilities have been actively exploited as a part of targeted attacks around the world, and one of them is known to be ItW for at least six months or so.
The GDI+ update patches memory corruption vulnerability CVE-2013-3906, which we have been detecting as Exploit.Win32.CVE-2013-3906.a. We have seen a low number of ITW variations on exploitation of this vulnerability as a malformed TIFF file, all dropping backdoors like Citadel, the BlackEnergy bot, PlugX, Taidoor, Janicab, Solar, and Hannover. The target profile and toolset distribution related to these exploit attempts suggest a broad array of likely threat actors that got their hands on it since this July, and a wide reaching distribution chain that provided the exploit around the world. Considering the variety of uses and sources, this one may replace cve-2012-0158 as a part of targeted attacks in terms of overall volume.
The Internet Explorer Bulletin fixes seven different elevation of privilege and memory corruption vulnerabilities, any one of which effects Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP SP 3 through Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows RT 8.1. We expect to see exploits for some of these vulnerabilities included in commodity exploit packs.
Finally, another critical vulnerability exists in the Windows Scripting Engine as yet another "use after free", which unfortunately enables remote code execution across every version of Windows out there and can be attacked via any of the common web browsers. Patch!
This post will likely be updated later today, but in the meantime, more about this month's patches can be found at the Microsoft site.
Companies are increasingly falling victim to cyber-attacks. According to a recent survey conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, 9% of the organizations polled were the victims of targeted attacks - carefully planned activity aimed at infecting the network infrastructure of specific organization. The extensive use of digital devices in business has created ideal conditions for cyber-espionage and the deployment of malware capable of stealing corporate data.
The full report is available here.
Two days ago FireEye reported that the recent CVE-2013-3906 exploit has begun to be used by new threat actors other than the original ones. The new infected documents share similarities with previously detected exploits but carry a different payload. This time these exploits are being used to deliver Taidoor and PlugX backdoors, according to FireEye.
At Kaspersky Lab we have also detected that yet another APT group has just started spreading malicious MS Word documents exploiting CVE-2013-3906. This APT actor is the Winnti group, which we described in detail here. They have sent spear-phishing emails with an attached document containing the exploit. As usual the Winnti perpetrators are trying to use this technique to deliver 1st stage malware - PlugX.
We became aware of an attack against one gaming company which constantly undergoes attacks from the Winnti group. The MS Word document containing the exploit shows the same TIFF “picture” - 7dd89c99ed7cec0ebc4afa8cd010f1f1 – that triggers the exploitation of the vulnerability, as in the Hangover attacks. If the exploitation is successful, the PlugX backdoor is downloaded from a remote URL:
The Ekoparty Security Conference 2013 was held in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 25 to 27 September, This event,the most important security conference in Latin America, is now in its ninth year and was attended by 1,500 people. The slogan of this year’s conference was “Somebody is watching”.
The world of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) is well known. Skilled adversaries compromising high-profile victims and stealthily exfiltrating valuable data over the course of many years. Such teams sometimes count tens or even hundreds of people, going through terabytes or even petabytes of exfiltrated data.
Although there has been an increasing focus on attribution and pinpointing the sources of these attacks, not much is known about a new emerging trend: the smaller hit-and-run gangs that are going after the supply chain and compromising targets with surgical precision.
Since 2011 we have been tracking a series of attacks that we link to a threat actor called ‘Icefog’. We believe this is a relatively small group of attackers that are going after the supply chain -- targeting government institutions, military contractors, maritime and ship-building groups, telecom operators, satellite operators, industrial and high technology companies and mass media, mainly in South Korea and Japan.
For several months, we have been monitoring an ongoing cyber-espionage campaign against South Korean think tanks. There are multiple reasons why this campaign is extraordinary in its execution and logistics. It all started one day when we encountered a somewhat unsophisticated spy program that communicated with its “master” via a public e-mail server. This approach is rather inherent to many amateur virus-writers.
However, there were a few things that attracted our attention:
The complete path found in the malware presents some of the Korean strings:
The “rsh” word, by all appearances, means a shortening of “Remote Shell” and the Korean words can be translated in English as “attack” and “completion”, i.e.:
We managed to identify several targets. Here are some of the organizations that the attackers were interested in targeting:
|The Sejong Institute is a non-profit private organization for public interest and a leading think tank in South Korea, conducting research on national security strategy, unification strategy, regional issues, and international political economy.|