Volatile Cedar campaign - cyber espionage isn't just for large nation states

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Apr 2, 2015

Details of malware to be discussed at VB2015.

Researchers at Check Point have revealed details of a cyber-espionage campaign, dubbed 'Volatile Cedar', that has been active since at least 2012.

The campaign, whose motive appears to be political rather than financial, revolves around a custom-made remote access trojan named 'Explosive', which is separated into a main binary and a DLL file.

This separation allows the attacker to quickly patch the trojan, both to update functionality and to avoid heuristic detection. Indeed, it appears that every time the malware started to become detectable by anti-virus solutions, a new version was created. The most recent version is still active.

To control the infected machines, Explosive's authors set up a command and control (C&C) infrastructure which includes both static and dynamic C&C servers, the latter using domain generation algorithms.

  Explosive's rather complex communication schema.

Targets of the campaign appear to be carefully selected, and based on these as well as some circumstantial evidence, the researchers believe the attacker group to be based in Lebanon and to have political ties.

Interestingly, rather than using spear phishing, as is common among so-called APT attacks, Explosive's initial targets were public-facing Windows servers. From there, attackers would look for further targets on the same internal network.

Full details on the malware can be found in a technical report (pdf) published by Check Point, while researchers from Kaspersky Lab wrote a blog post on their findings based on sinkholing the malware.

This campaign will also be the subject of the presentation 'The Unbearable Lightness of APTing' at VB2015, the programme for which we announced yesterday. VB2015 takes place 30 September to 2 October in Prague, Czech Republic. Registration for the conference will open soon.

Posted on 02 April 2015 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2020 localhost call for last-minute papers now open!

The call for last-minute papers for VB2020 localhost is now open. Submit before 17 August to have your paper considered for one of the nine slots reserved for 'hot' research!

Announcing... VB2020 localhost

Announcing VB2020 localhost: the carbon neutral, budget neutral VB conference!

VB2019 paper: APT cases exploiting vulnerabilities in region-specific software

At VB2019, JPCERT/CC's Shusei Tomonaga and Tomoaki Tani presented a paper on attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in software used only in Japan, using malware that is unique to Japan. Today we publish both their paper and the recording of their…

New paper: Detection of vulnerabilities in web applications by validating parameter integrity and data flow graphs

In a follow-up to a paper presented at VB2019, Prismo Systems researchers Abhishek Singh and Ramesh Mani detail algorithms that can be used to detect SQL injection in stored procedures, persistent cross-site scripting (XSS), and server‑side request…

VB2020 programme announced

VB is pleased to reveal the details of an interesting and diverse programme for VB2020, the 30th Virus Bulletin International Conference.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.