archive

APT

  1. DriftingCloud: Zero-Day Sophos Firewall Exploitation and an Insidious Breach

    Volexity frequently works with individuals and organizations heavily targeted by sophisticated, motivated, and well-equipped threat actors from around the world. Some of these individuals or organizations are attacked infrequently or on an irregular basis, while others see a barrage of attacks nearly every week. Regardless of the attack frequency, Volexity keeps its guard up, looking for new and old threats however they manifest themselves. Earlier this year, Volexity detected a sophisticated attack against a customer that is heavily targeted by multiple Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) groups. This particular attack leveraged a zero-day exploit to compromise the customer’s firewall. Volexity observed the attacker implement an interesting webshell backdoor, create a secondary form of persistence, and ultimately launch attacks against the customer’s staff. These attacks aimed to further breach cloud-hosted web servers hosting the organization’s public-facing websites. This type of attack is rare and difficult to detect. This blog post serves […]

  2. Zero-Day Exploitation of Atlassian Confluence

    UPDATE: On June 3, 2022, Atlassian updated its security advisory with new information regarding a fix for Confluence Server and Data Center to address CVE-2022-26134. Users are encouraged to update immediately to mitigate their risk. Additional observations after publication of this blog post have been shared here, with guidance on how to verify if you have been impacted by unauthorized access.  Over the Memorial Day weekend in the United States, Volexity conducted an incident response investigation involving two Internet-facing web servers belonging to one of its customers that were running Atlassian Confluence Server software. The investigation began after suspicious activity was detected on the hosts, which included JSP webshells being written to disk. Volexity immediately used Volexity Surge Collect Pro to collect system memory and key files from the Confluence Server systems for analysis. After a thorough review of the collected data, Volexity was able to determine the server compromise stemmed from […]

  3. Storm Cloud on the Horizon: GIMMICK Malware Strikes at macOS

    In late 2021, Volexity discovered an intrusion in an environment monitored as part of its Network Security Monitoring service. Volexity detected a system running frp, otherwise known as fast reverse proxy, and subsequently detected internal port scanning shortly afterward. This traffic was determined to be unauthorized and the system, a MacBook Pro running macOS 11.6 (Big Sur), was isolated for further forensic analysis. Volexity was able to run Surge Collect to acquire system memory (RAM) and select files of interest from the machine for analysis. This led to the discovery of a macOS variant of a malware implant Volexity calls GIMMICK. Volexity has encountered Windows versions of the malware family on several previous occasions. GIMMICK is used in targeted attacks by Storm Cloud, a Chinese espionage threat actor known to attack organizations across Asia. It is a feature-rich, multi-platform malware family that uses public cloud hosting services (such as Google […]

  4. Operation EmailThief: Active Exploitation of Zero-day XSS Vulnerability in Zimbra

    [UPDATE] On February 4, 2022, Zimbra provided an update regarding this zero-day exploit vulnerability and reported that a hotfix for 8.8.15 P30 would be available on February 5, 2022. In December 2021, through its Network Security Monitoring service, Volexity identified a series of targeted spear-phishing campaigns against one of its customers from a threat actor it tracks as TEMP_Heretic. Analysis of the emails from these spear phishing campaigns led to a discovery: the attacker was attempting to exploit a zero-day cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the Zimbra email platform. Zimbra is an open source email platform often used by organizations as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange. The campaigns came in multiple waves across two attack phases. The initial phase was aimed at reconnaissance and involved emails designed to simply track if a target received and opened the messages. The second phase came in several waves that contained email messages luring targets […]

  5. North Korean BLUELIGHT Special: InkySquid Deploys RokRAT

    In a recent blog post, Volexity disclosed details on a portion of the operations by a North Korean threat actor it tracks as InkySquid. This threat actor compromised a news portal to use recently patched browser exploits to deliver a custom malware family known as BLUELIGHT. This follow-up post describes findings from a recent investigation undertaken by Volexity in which the BLUELIGHT malware was discovered being delivered to a victim alongside RokRAT (aka DOGCALL).  RokRAT is a backdoor previously attributed to use by ScarCruft/APT37, which is also known as InkySquid. It should be noted that Volexity identified some overlap between the findings discussed in this post and this Korean-language article. Analysis Volexity is often asked to analyze systems of users frequently targeted by state-sponsored threat actors based on some tip-off or concern that the systems may be compromised. In this case, it was a system belonging to an individual who is […]

  6. North Korean APT InkySquid Infects Victims Using Browser Exploits

    Volexity recently investigated a strategic web compromise (SWC) of the website of the Daily NK (www.dailynk[.]com), a South Korean online newspaper that focuses on issues relating to North Korea. Malicious code on the Daily NK website was observed from at least late March 2021 until early June 2021. This post provides details on the different exploits used in the SWC, as well as the payload used, which Volexity calls BLUELIGHT. Volexity attributes the activity described in this post to a threat actor Volexity refers to as InkySquid, which broadly corresponds to activity known publicly under the monikers ScarCruft and APT37. SWC Activity In April 2021, through its network security monitoring on a customer network, Volexity identified suspicious code being loaded via www.dailynk[.]com to malicious subdomains of jquery[.]services. Examples of URLs observed loading malicious code include the following: hxxps://www.dailynk[.]com/wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery.min.js?ver=3.5.1 hxxps://www.dailynk[.]com/wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery-migrate.min.js?ver=3.3.2 These URLs lead to legitimate files used as part of the […]

  7. Suspected APT29 Operation Launches Election Fraud Themed Phishing Campaigns

    On May 25, 2021, Volexity identified a phishing campaign targeting multiple organizations based in the United States and Europe. The following industries have been observed being targeted thus far: NGOs Research Institutions Government Agencies International Agencies The campaign’s phishing e-mails purported to originate from the USAID government agency and contained a malicious link that resulted in an ISO file being delivered. This file contained a malicious LNK file, a malicious DLL file, and a legitimate lure referencing foreign threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections. This blog post provides details on the observed activity and outlines possible justification that this campaign could be related to APT29. Phishing Email Campaign The original e-mails looked like the following: Figure 1. Phishing e-mails sent to numerous organizations Volexity also observed a smaller campaign from the same sender with largely the same content several hours earlier, but with the subject line “USAID Special Alert!”. […]

  8. Operation Exchange Marauder: Active Exploitation of Multiple Zero-Day Microsoft Exchange Vulnerabilities

    [UPDATE] March 8, 2021 – Since original publication of this blog, Volexity has now observed that cyber espionage operations using the SSRF vulnerability CVE-2021-26855 started occurring on January 3, 2021, three days earlier than initially posted. Volexity is seeing active in-the-wild exploitation of multiple Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities used to steal e-mail and compromise networks. These attacks appear to have started as early as January 6, 2021. In January 2021, through its Network Security Monitoring service, Volexity detected anomalous activity from two of its customers’ Microsoft Exchange servers. Volexity identified a large amount of data being sent to IP addresses it believed were not tied to legitimate users. A closer inspection of the IIS logs from the Exchange servers revealed rather alarming results. The logs showed inbound POST requests to valid files associated with images, JavaScript, cascading style sheets, and fonts used by Outlook Web Access (OWA). It was initially suspected the […]

  9. Evil Eye Threat Actor Resurfaces with iOS Exploit and Updated Implant

    In September 2019, Volexity published Digital Crackdown: Large-Scale Surveillance and Exploitation of Uyghurs, which described a series of attacks against Uyghurs from multiple Chinese APT actors. The most notable threat actor detailed in the blog was one Volexity calls Evil Eye. The Evil Eye threat actor was observed launching an exploit aimed at installing a malware implant on Android phones. Volexity also believed this was likely the same group responsible for the launching exploits aimed at installing an iOS implant as described by Google’s Project Zero. Immediately after the publications from Google and Volexity, the Evil Eye threat actor went fairly quiet. They removed their malicious code from compromised websites, command and control (C2) servers were taken down, and various hostnames stopped resolving. This largely remained the case until early January 2020, when Volexity observed a series of new activity across multiple previously compromised Uyghur websites. In the latest activity […]

  10. Storm Cloud Unleashed: Tibetan Focus of Highly Targeted Fake Flash Campaign

    Beginning in May 2019, Volexity started tracking a new series of strategic web compromises that have been used in highly targeted attacks against Tibetan individuals and organizations by a Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) actor it tracks as Storm Cloud. While this threat activity appears to have started in mid-2019, Storm Cloud has been observed targeting Tibetan organizations since at least 2018. The attacks were launched at a very limited subset of visitors to over two dozen different Tibetan websites that Storm Cloud had managed to compromise. Kaspersky has noted they uncovered similar targeted attacks dating back to mid-2019. Unlike strategic web compromises of the past, this attack activity did not rely on or use exploits. Instead, the attackers relied on enticing targeted users to install an “update to Adobe Flash” by way of a JavaScript overlay on top of the legitimate compromised websites. While there is no relation between […]