Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
How a Manufacturing Firm Recovered from a Devastating Ransomware Attack
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/20/2019
Why AI Will Create Far More Jobs Than It Replaces
John DiLullo, CEO, Lastline,  5/14/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Talk about vendor lock in...
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-11816
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-20
Incorrect access control in the WebUI in OPNsense before version 19.1.8, and pfsense before 2.4.4-p3 allows remote authenticated users to escalate privileges to administrator via a specially crafted request.
CVE-2019-10076
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-20
A carefully crafted malicious attachment could trigger an XSS vulnerability on Apache JSPWiki 2.9.0 to 2.11.0.M3, which could lead to session hijacking.
CVE-2019-10077
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-20
A carefully crafted InterWiki link could trigger an XSS vulnerability on Apache JSPWiki 2.9.0 to 2.11.0.M3, which could lead to session hijacking.
CVE-2019-10078
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-20
A carefully crafted plugin link invocation could trigger an XSS vulnerability on Apache JSPWiki 2.9.0 to 2.11.0.M3, which could lead to session hijacking. Initial reporting indicated ReferredPagesPlugin, but further analysis showed that multiple plugins were vulnerable.
CVE-2019-12239
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-20
The WP Booking System plugin 1.5.1 for WordPress has no CSRF protection, which allows attackers to reach certain SQL injection issues that require administrative access.