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Attacks/Breaches

2/9/2018
12:20 PM
Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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8 Nation-State Hacking Groups to Watch in 2018

The aliases, geographies, famous attacks, and behaviors of some of the most prolific threat groups.
2 of 9

Fancy Bear
Also known as: Fancy Bear, APT28, Sofacy, Strontium, Sednit
Believed to operate out of: Russia
Usual targets: Fancy Bear's targets are primarily based in Europe and tend to include government ministries, though past attacks have targeted global embassies and the United States. The group has been known to target based on policies and it's interested in anything related to NATO, says Brian Bartholomew, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. These days, he says Fancy Bear has its eyes on the Olympics.
Behavior: Its strength is spearphishing, says Bartholomew, adding that this is the main tactic for most threat groups. Fancy Bear has splintered into different subgroups, each of which is responsible for a different part of the attack. One subset focuses on phishing as many targets as possible. Once they're on a system, the next subset uses toolsets to maintain persistence. 
Fancy Bear has also been known to leverage social media in its attacks, and spread disinformation campaigns, Bartholomew says. For example, it's believed to have hacked the anti-doping administration and tried to feed altered data to journalists, says Bartholomew. Some don't attribute this to Sofacy, he notes, but 'we're pretty certain it is them.' The group's toolkit is constantly evolving, but it does use a core backdoor called XAgent, says Alexis Dorais-Joncas, security intelligence team lead at ESET. 
Tied to: Attacks on the Democratic National Committee, International Association of Athletics Federations, and German Parliament; influencing the 2016 US presidential election.
'I think what's so surprising about their activity is, despite continued accusations and exposures, they had not let up,' says Hultquist, who expects increased activity during the Olympics and elections. 'They've shown disregard for global norms and willingness to cross lines we never thought we'd see crossed.'
(Image: Harvepino via Shutterstock)

Fancy Bear

Also known as: Fancy Bear, APT28, Sofacy, Strontium, Sednit

Believed to operate out of: Russia

Usual targets: Fancy Bear's targets are primarily based in Europe and tend to include government ministries, though past attacks have targeted global embassies and the United States. The group has been known to target based on policies and it's interested in anything related to NATO, says Brian Bartholomew, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. These days, he says Fancy Bear has its eyes on the Olympics.

Behavior: Its strength is spearphishing, says Bartholomew, adding that this is the main tactic for most threat groups. Fancy Bear has splintered into different subgroups, each of which is responsible for a different part of the attack. One subset focuses on phishing as many targets as possible. Once they're on a system, the next subset uses toolsets to maintain persistence.

Fancy Bear has also been known to leverage social media in its attacks, and spread disinformation campaigns, Bartholomew says. For example, it's believed to have hacked the anti-doping administration and tried to feed altered data to journalists, says Bartholomew. Some don't attribute this to Sofacy, he notes, but "we're pretty certain it is them." The group's toolkit is constantly evolving, but it does use a core backdoor called XAgent, says Alexis Dorais-Joncas, security intelligence team lead at ESET.

Tied to: Attacks on the Democratic National Committee, International Association of Athletics Federations, and German Parliament; influencing the 2016 US presidential election.

"I think what's so surprising about their activity is, despite continued accusations and exposures, they had not let up," says Hultquist, who expects increased activity during the Olympics and elections. "They've shown disregard for global norms and willingness to cross lines we never thought we'd see crossed."

(Image: Harvepino via Shutterstock)

2 of 9
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Jeff.schilling
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Jeff.schilling,
User Rank: Author
2/9/2018 | 1:38:49 PM
Would have Added the Shadow Brokers to this list
I enjoyed this list, but feel like is was mostly focused on outed Russian and NKorean actors over the last year.  I would have definitely added the Shadow Brokers to this list.  The stolen tools they put out on the open market appear to be legite nation-state level tools that were easily weaponized, allegedly by one or more of the groups listed here, in WannaCry and NOTPetya.  Would definitely keep your threat research team focused on if any more of the tools they may have are dropped on the open market.  
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