China-linked group APT41 targets Hong Kong with Spyder Loader | World Tech

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China-linked risk actors APT41 (also called Winnti) focused organizations in Hong Kong, in some instances going undetected for a yr.

Symantec researchers reported that the APT41 cyber espionage group focused organizations in Hong Kong in a marketing campaign that’s possible a follow-up to the Operation CuckooBees exercise detailed by Cybereason in Might. Winnti (also called APT41, Axiom, Bario, Blackfly) is a cyber espionage group that has been energetic since a minimum of 2007.

Operation CuckooBees had been working underneath the radar since a minimum of 2019, with risk actors conducting a number of assaults to steal mental property and different delicate knowledge from victims.

The assaults detailed by Cybereason focused manufacturing and expertise firms positioned primarily in East Asia, Western Europe, and North America.

Symantec famous that assaults in opposition to authorities organizations in Hong Kong went undetected for as much as a yr in some instances.

Symantec noticed attackers deploying customized malware referred to as Spyder Loader on track networks.

“We noticed Spyder Loader malware (Trojan.Spyload) deployed on sufferer networks, indicating that this exercise is probably going a part of that ongoing marketing campaign. Whereas we didn’t see the ultimate payload on this marketing campaign, primarily based on earlier exercise seen at the side of the Spyder Loader malware, it appears possible that the final word purpose of this exercise was intelligence gathering.” learn the evaluation revealed by Symantec.

Spyder Loader is a complicated modular backdoor that specialists say is regularly evolving. The pattern analyzed by Symantec is compiled as a 64-bit PE DLL, it’s a modified copy of sqlite3.dll, which incorporates the sqlite3_prepare_v4 malicious export.

Spyder Loader masses AES-encrypted blobs to create wlbsctrl.dll, which acts as a next-stage loader that executes the content material.

Just like the pattern reviewed by Cyberreason, the Spyder Loader pattern reviewed by Symantec makes use of the CryptoPP C++ library. The variant used within the latest assaults in opposition to Hong Kong depends on the encryption of the ChaCha20 algorithm for string obfuscation. To keep away from evaluation, the malware additionally cleans up the created artifacts, overwriting the contents of the dropped wlbsctrl.dll file earlier than deleting it.

One other similarity between the latest marketing campaign and the Spyder Loader exercise described by Cybereason is using rundll32.exe to execute the malware loader.

As soon as they gained entry to the goal community, risk actors used Mimikatz to reap credentials and used it for lateral motion.

“We additionally noticed Mimikatz run on sufferer networks, in addition to a Trojan ZLib DLL that had a number of malicious exports, one in every of which seemed to be ready for communication from a command and management (C&C) server, whereas the opposite loaded a payload from the filename supplied on the command line.” report continues.

Though Symantec researchers had been unable to retrieve the ultimate payload, they imagine the latest assaults are a part of a long-running intelligence-gathering marketing campaign by APT41.

Symantec additionally shared indicators of compromise (IoCs) for this marketing campaign.

Observe me on twitter: @security issues Y Fb

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityIssues piracy, APT41)

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China-linked group APT41 targets Hong Kong with Spyder Loader

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