Attack targets government agencies in CIS countries

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Sep 26, 2011

Trojans used to steal specific files.

Researchers at Trend Micro have discovered an ongoing targeted attack against, among others, government agencies and diplomatic missions in Russia and its neighbours.

The attack is executed by sending targeted emails to employees. These emails contain attachments that exploit vulnerabilities in popular software and allow the attackers to install data-stealing malware on the victims' machines. In this case the attackers have not relied on zero-day exploits but used older, more reliable exploits; however, researchers have found indirect evidence that zero-day exploits have also been used in the same campaign.

The victims are mainly located in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which comprises most of the former Soviet Union, with Russia host to the largest number of victims. Targets include diplomatic missions, ministries and space-related government agencies. The ultimate purpose of the attacks is not yet clear, but researchers have found evidence of the attackers attempting to steal specific documents.

It is also not clear who is behind the attacks. The command and control centres used by the malware use IP addresses in the US and the UK, but the registration information of the used domains points to China. The 'Lurid' malware used in the attacks has historically been linked to China, but researchers are hesitant to draw hasty conclusions as the victims include some Chinese entities as well.

This attack is the second of its kind discovered within a short period of time. Early last week it was revealed that a number of Japanese defence contractors, most prominently Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, had been the victim of another targeted attack.

More at Trend Micro here and here, with information on the attack targeting Japanese companies at Threatpost here.

Targeted attacks have been the subject of some discussion within the security industry: is enough been done against them? is their importance overstated? is enough information about them shared within the industry? Topic such as these will be discussed in a VB2011 panel discussion 'Operation ShadySHARE - towards better industry collaboration'.

VB2011 takes place in Barcelona, Spain 5-7 October. Registration is still open.

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Virus Bulletin

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