Attacks/Breaches
3/6/2014
06:03 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Oil & Gas Firms Targeted In Web Server Hacks

'STTEAM' group also attacking Middle East state government sites, General Dynamics Fidelis says

A group of hackers who goes by the handle "STTEAM" has hit about a half-dozen oil and gas and government agencies in the Middle East using a mix of hacktivist, nation-state, and pure cybercrime techniques.

Researchers at General Dynamics Fidelis discovered the attacks, where the attackers ultimately wrest control of the organizations' website servers and use Trojan backdoors to hack into other systems within the victim organization.

Jim Jaeger, chief cyber services strategist for General Dynamics Fidelis Cybersecurity Solutions, says the latest twist to the attacks is that there are more victims, including Middle Eastern government agencies. "It appears to target those organizations and to gain access to their Web servers, and then move laterally with backdoors," he says.

The attackers leave a calling card on the sites, with an Anonymous icon and the message "Hacked by STTEAM," as well as Arabic language text and a note threatening oil and gas ministries. Jaeger says it appears the hacktivist defacement is more of a false flag to hide the attackers' infiltration of the victims' network via the Web servers using two different Trojan backdoors.

It doesn't appear to be a nation-state group, he says, because he malware doesn't indicate that. "It's probably criminals trying to get information that they could sell," he says. "We don't see nation-state footprints."

One backdoor contains Turkish words and is able to grab system information, connect to SQL databases, list tables and execute commands, browse directories, and move and copy files and folders or delete them, although there has been no proof thus far of data destruction by the attacks.

A second backdoor is able to do the same as the first, but also can add users to the system, add a user to the administrator group, disable a Windows firewall, enable RDP, delete IIS logs, and run Netcat as a reverse backdoor shell.

Just where the attackers come from is difficult to discern because they use an anonymous tunnel, Jaeger says. Fidelis has contacted the victim organizations, one of which the company has been working with. "We're seeing this pick-up of activity in the Middle East," he says.

The full report on the STTEAM attacks is available here for download.

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
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8917
Published: 2015-01-28
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in (1) dojox/form/resources/uploader.swf (aka upload.swf), (2) dojox/form/resources/fileuploader.swf (aka fileupload.swf), (3) dojox/av/resources/audio.swf, and (4) dojox/av/resources/video.swf in the IBM Dojo Toolkit, as used in IBM Social Media A...

CVE-2014-8920
Published: 2015-01-28
Buffer overflow in the Data Transfer Program in IBM i Access 5770-XE1 5R4, 6.1, and 7.1 on Windows allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0235
Published: 2015-01-28
Heap-based buffer overflow in the __nss_hostname_digits_dots function in glibc 2.2, and other 2.x versions before 2.18, allows context-dependent attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors related to the (1) gethostbyname or (2) gethostbyname2 function, aka "GHOST."

CVE-2015-0312
Published: 2015-01-28
Double free vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player before 13.0.0.264 and 14.x through 16.x before 16.0.0.296 on Windows and OS X and before 11.2.202.440 on Linux allows attackers to execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0581
Published: 2015-01-28
The XML parser in Cisco Prime Service Catalog before 10.1 allows remote authenticated users to read arbitrary files or cause a denial of service (CPU and memory consumption) via an external entity declaration in conjunction with an entity reference, as demonstrated by reading private keys, related t...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If youíre a security professional, youíve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.