Attacks/Breaches

8/8/2016
03:50 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Symantec Discovers Strider, A New CyberEspionage Group

In action five years, highly selective threat actor has only been known to compromise seven organizations.

Symantec has discovered a previously unknown cyberespionage group so selective in its targets that it is only known to have compromised seven organizations and 36 endpoints since it started operating five years ago. Dubbed "Strider" by Symantec, the threat actor's malware of choice is a custom, Windows infostealer called Remsec -- stealthy, modular, and written in Lua.

The seven organizations include targets in Russia, an airline in China, an embassy in Belgium, and an organization in Sweden. DiMaggio says this is an extremely small number of targets, even for a sophisticated actor. 

"That's exactly why this is so interesting to us," says Jon DiMaggio, senior threat intelligence analyst at Symantec. " ... The fact that someone invested the time and money into creating custom malware and only used it on this many targets." He says targeting this focused means that someone has gone through a lot of trouble and done a lot of reconaissance.  

Symantec has not speculated on Strider's origins or Remsec's creators, other than to say in today's blog announcing the discovery that it is "possible that the group is a nation-state level attacker."

Researchers do acknowledge, however, that the group's attacks have "tentative links" with earlier cyberespionage malware -- Flame, highly sophisticated malware that mostly hit targets in the Middle East and was widely thought to derive from Western sources. Remsec and Flame both use modules written in the Lua programming language, which is a rare technique. 

DiMaggio says that using Lua is one of the Remsec authors' "self-protection mechanisms." Common security tools' usual logic and detection engines are less likely to find uncommon methods like this. It's the same reason, DiMaggio says, that some components of the Remsec malware are in the form of executable blobs (binary large objects), which are also less common. 

"That's what I would do if I was writing malware," says DiMaggio.

It's not the end of Remsec's stealth mechanisms either. According to the Symantec blog, "much of the functionality is deployed over the network, meaning it resides only in a computer's memory and is never stored on disk."

The Lua modules in Remsec include a network loader, host loader, network listener, basic pipe back door, a more advanced pipe back door that can read, write and delete files), an HTTP back door that includes URLs for a command-and-control server, and a keylogger.

The keylogger contains the word "Sauron" in the code -- perhaps named after the Lord of the Rings character and his famous flaming all-seeing eye. Symantec continued with the LOTR theme when they named the threat actor Strider, one of Aragorn's alternate names. 

For the complete indicators of compromise, see here.

Related Content:

 

 

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Whoopty
100%
0%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2016 | 7:27:00 AM
Private hackers?
Got to respect the Lord of the Rings reference, but I wonder from the low number of targets if these are high-skilled hackers for hire? If they're only hitting select targets now and again, it's either something hobby-like for the group, or they take it very seriously and only hit high-profile, high reward targets. 

That means a lot of background money, somewhere.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Risk
Jack Jones, Chairman, FAIR Institute,  7/11/2018
Ticketmaster Breach Part of Massive Payment Card Hacking Campaign
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  7/10/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-14072
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-15
libsixel 1.8.1 has a memory leak in sixel_decoder_decode in decoder.c, image_buffer_resize in fromsixel.c, and sixel_decode_raw in fromsixel.c.
CVE-2018-14073
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-15
libsixel 1.8.1 has a memory leak in sixel_allocator_new in allocator.c.
CVE-2018-14068
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-15
An issue was discovered in SRCMS V2.3.1. There is a CSRF vulnerability that can add an admin account via admin.php?m=Admin&c=manager&a=add.
CVE-2018-14069
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-15
An issue was discovered in SRCMS V2.3.1. There is a CSRF vulnerability that can add a user account via admin.php?m=Admin&c=member&a=add.
CVE-2018-14066
PUBLISHED: 2018-07-15
The content://wappush content provider in com.android.provider.telephony, as found in some custom ROMs for Android phones, allows SQL injection. One consequence is that an application without the READ_SMS permission can read SMS messages. This affects Infinix X571 phones, as well as various Lenovo p...