Attacks/Breaches
9/12/2013
06:32 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

North Korea Likely Behind New Targeted Attacks On South Korea

'Kimsuky' operation targets South Korean think-tanks in classic cyberespionage campaign

A new wave of targeted attacks on South Korean organizations contains multiple signs that the attacks are likely coming from the North, according to new research.

Kaspersky Lab exposed a cyberespionage campaign, dubbed Kimsuky, aimed at spying on and stealing information from South Korean think-tank organizations.

South Korea has been hammered by several targeted attack campaigns in the past year, including the so-called DarkSeoul DDoS and data-destruction attacks on major South Korean banks, media outlets, and other entities. McAfee this summer revealed those attacks and other campaigns against South Korean targets were all part of a four-year effort to steal information about South Korean military and government operations that McAfee has dubbed Operation Troy. Operation Troy also targeted U.S. Forces Korea, Republic of Korea, the Korean Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Kaspersky Lab found no connection between the Kimsuky campaign and Operation Troy or Dark Seoul, says Kurt Baumgartner, principal researcher for Kaspersky Lab.

"This group appears to be lightly resourced and highly focused on exactly what they want. The operation and its implementation is simplistic, somewhat sloppy, but appears to be fairly effective," Baumgartner said in an email interview.

The Kimsuky targeted attack campaign focused on 11 organizations in South Korea and two in China. Among the targets were the Sejong Institute, Korea Institute For Defense Analyses (KIDA), South Korea's Ministry of Unification, and Hyundai Merchant Marine. According to Kaspersky, the attack likely was delivered via spear-phishing e-mails: It executes keylogging, directory listing collection, and remote control access, and steals HWP documents, a word processing document type widely used by the South Korean government.

Kaspersky says Kamsuky's Trojan malware first surfaced in May of this year, and the attacks have been rife with flaws that provided the researchers with clues about the attackers' origin. The code's compilation path string, for example, includes Korean words, including commands for "attack" and "completion."

And two email addresses where infected bots send status reports and other information are registered to "kimsukyang" and "Kim asdfa." The researchers say while the names don't necessarily correlate with specific attackers, the source IP addresses are located in the Jilin Province Network and Liaoning Province Network in China. ISPs there are believed to provide lines into North Korea as well, according to the research.

In addition, the malware disables South Korean anti-malware company AhnLab's security software.

Kaspersky Lab's full report on Kimsuky is available here.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
quatra
50%
50%
quatra,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/13/2013 | 7:09:08 AM
re: North Korea Likely Behind New Targeted Attacks On South Korea
Hello, Mr. Rodman. Please call your catcher and ask him what the f--k is going on.
Is his palace going cold? Has his cuchi-cuchi left him? Maybe he should start wearing the padded jackets his father used to cover his hangover shivers. Now, if I were Obama I'd bring Rodman in and ask him "what did you do, or say, to set the nutcase off?".
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2012-1978
Published: 2015-05-21
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Simple PHP Agenda 2.2.8 and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that (1) add an administrator via a request to auth/process.php, (2) delete an administrator via a request to auth/admi...

CVE-2015-0741
Published: 2015-05-21
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Cisco Prime Central for Hosted Collaboration Solution (PC4HCS) 10.6(1) and earlier allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users, aka Bug ID CSCut04596.

CVE-2015-0742
Published: 2015-05-21
The Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM) application in Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) Software 9.2(0.0), 9.2(0.104), 9.2(3.1), 9.2(3.4), 9.3(1.105), 9.3(2.100), 9.4(0.115), 100.13(0.21), 100.13(20.3), 100.13(21.9), and 100.14(1.1) does not properly implement multicast-forwarding registrati...

CVE-2015-0746
Published: 2015-05-21
The REST API in Cisco Access Control Server (ACS) 5.5(0.46.2) allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (API outage) by sending many requests, aka Bug ID CSCut62022.

CVE-2015-0915
Published: 2015-05-21
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in RAKUS MailDealer 11.2.1 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted attachment filename.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.