Attacks/Breaches

11/29/2018
12:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Beware the Malware-Laden Brexit News

New Fancy Bear attack campaign lures victims with phony Brexit-themed document to deliver Zekapab payload.

The Russian operatives behind the well-established Fancy Bear cyberthreat group are at it again. This time they're making political hay by taking advantage of the most recent round of Brexit news to help them get first-stage malware onto victims' machines.

According to a report out today by analysts with Accenture Security's iDefense team, the threat group is timing its attack in conjunction with the announcement by UK Prime Minister Theresa May of negotiations to draft the initial Brexit agreement with the European Union. iDefense analysts found that Fancy Bear is using a Brexit-themed lure document to help it deliver two different versions of the Zekapab reconnaissance malware. 

The attack document contains malicious macro-enabled content loaded via the settings.xml.rels component that's embedded within it. 

"To trick the targeted individual into enabling macros, the attackers deliberately used jumbled-up text as content," the iDefense report says.

The core malicious macro code is the same as the code used in a different campaign earlier this spring initially found by researchers at ESET. The macros drop two binaries for a Delphi and new .NET version of the Zekapab malware, which is used by attackers to root around for system information and running processes. The malware deliver that information to a C2 server so that the bad guys can determine whether it's worthwhile to execute second-stage malware using an autorun registry key set.

First identified by security researchers in 2014 but likely operating far longer, the Fancy Bear threat group has been known by a number of names, including APT28, Sednit, and Stronium. iDefense analysts refer to this group as SNAKEMACKEREL and remind the security community that this highly sophisticated group has been linked by several governments to RIS, the Russian military intelligence service. 

"The creation of this malicious document, coming on the same day that the UK government announced an initial agreed draft of the BREXIT agreement, suggests that SNAKEMACKEREL is a group that pays close attention to political affairs and is able to leverage the latest news headlines to develop lure documents to deliver first-stage malware, such as Zekapab, to its intended targets," the report says.

In spite of highly touted industry work by the likes of Microsoft and others to battle Fancy Bear  through takedowns and domain seizures, iDefense analysts explain that the group still remains "highly active." This latest attack is just one of many continually crafted by the group.

"It is behind a large number of cyberattacks targeting global aerospace and defense contractors, military units, political parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), anti doping agencies, government departments, and various other verticals," the report explains.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
High Stress Levels Impacting CISOs Physically, Mentally
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  2/14/2019
Valentine's Emails Laced with Gandcrab Ransomware
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/14/2019
Making the Case for a Cybersecurity Moon Shot
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  2/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-8980
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-21
A memory leak in the kernel_read_file function in fs/exec.c in the Linux kernel through 4.20.11 allows attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) by triggering vfs_read failures.
CVE-2019-8979
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-21
Koseven through 3.3.9, and Kohana through 3.3.6, has SQL Injection when the order_by() parameter can be controlled.
CVE-2013-7469
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-21
Seafile through 6.2.11 always uses the same Initialization Vector (IV) with Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) Mode to encrypt private data, making it easier to conduct chosen-plaintext attacks or dictionary attacks.
CVE-2018-20146
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-21
An issue was discovered in Liquidware ProfileUnity before 6.8.0 with Liquidware FlexApp before 6.8.0. A local user could obtain administrator rights, as demonstrated by use of PowerShell.
CVE-2019-5727
PUBLISHED: 2019-02-21
Splunk Web in Splunk Enterprise 6.5.x before 6.5.5, 6.4.x before 6.4.9, 6.3.x before 6.3.12, 6.2.x before 6.2.14, 6.1.x before 6.1.14, and 6.0.x before 6.0.15 and Splunk Light before 6.6.0 has Persistent XSS, aka SPL-138827.