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SolarWinds hackers target govt agencies from 24 countries

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Microsoft: SolarWinds hackers target govt agencies from 24 countries

The Microsoft Risk Intelligence Heart (MSTIC) has found that the SolarWinds hackers are behind an ongoing spear-phishing marketing campaign focusing on authorities companies worldwide.

“This week we noticed cyberattacks by the menace actor Nobelium focusing on authorities companies, suppose tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organizations,” MSTIC revealed.

“This wave of assaults focused roughly 3,000 e mail accounts at greater than 150 totally different organizations.

“Whereas organizations in the US acquired the biggest share of assaults, focused victims span not less than 24 nations.”

Phishing emails despatched utilizing hacked USAID e mail advertising and marketing account

The menace actors behind these assaults, a hacking group tracked as Nobelium by Microsoft and certain backed by the Russian authorities, despatched the phishing emails utilizing USAID’s compromised Fixed Contact account (a official e mail advertising and marketing service).

The marketing campaign began in January 2021, and it slowly was a collection of assaults culminating with this week’s USAID-themed phishing wave.

Cybersecurity firm Volexity additionally printed a report linking this phishing campaign with Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) operators (tracked as APT29, Cozy Bear, and The Dukes) primarily based on ways beforehand utilized in assaults going again to 2018.

Nobelium spear phishing email
Nobelium spear-phishing e mail (Volexity)

Nobelium’s an infection chain and malware supply methods advanced all through the assaults, with the spear-phishing messages containing HTML attachments dropping an ISO file onto the victims’ arduous drives.

After the victims mounted the ISO they had been inspired to open the information contained inside (LNK shortcut or RTF paperwork), which might execute a DLL bundled withing doc or saved inside ISO picture, loading Cobalt Strike Beacon on the system.

“If the gadget focused was an Apple iOS gadget, the person was redirected to a different server beneath NOBELIUM management, the place the since-patched zero-day exploit for CVE-2021-1879 was served,” Microsoft added.

Extra particulars, together with the attackers’ motivation, the malicious habits noticed by Microsoft in the course of the assaults, and greatest practices to defend towards this ongoing marketing campaign, may be present in MSTIC’s report.

HTML-ISO infection chain
HTML-ISO an infection chain (Microsoft)

The SolarWinds hackers

In December, the SolarWinds community administration firm was breached in a cyberattack that allowed the attackers to launch a provide chain assault focusing on the corporate’s clients.

SolarWinds advertised a choose buyer base together with not less than 425 organizations within the US Fortune 500 rankings, prime ten US telecommunications firms, all US Navy branches, the Pentagon, NASA, the NSA, the Postal Service, the Division of Justice, and the Workplace of the President of the US.

SolarWinds revealed in March expenses of roughly $3.5 million by way of December 2020 from final yr’s supply-chain assault and is anticipating excessive further prices all through the subsequent monetary durations.

The hacking group behind the SolarWinds supply-chain assault is tracked as Nobelium (Microsoft), NC2452 (FireEye), StellarParticle (CrowdStrike), SolarStorm (Palo Alto Unit 42), and Dark Halo (Volexity).

Although the group’s identification stays unknown, a joint assertion issued by the FBI, CISA, ODNI, and the NSA in early January stated that it’s likely a Russian-backed hacking group.

Microsoft additionally stated in February that the SolarWinds hackers had downloaded source code for a restricted variety of Azure, Intune, and Alternate elements.



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