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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

9/17/2020
05:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Iranian Hackers Indicted for Stealing Aerospace & Satellite Tracking Data

Also, the US Treasury sanctioned Iranian attack group APT39 following a years-long malware campaign.

The US Department of Justice today charged three Iranian hackers for their role in a campaign intended to steal critical data related to United States' aerospace and satellite technology and resources. This marks the third time in three days the DoJ has charged Iranian cyberattackers.

Said Pourkarim Arabi, 34, Mohammad Reza Espargham, 25, and Mohammad Bayati, 34, are all residents and nationals of Iran and allegedly participated in a coordinated campaign of identity theft and hacking on behalf of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Related Content:

Ransomware Red Flags: 7 Signs You're About to Get Hit

Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective

New on The Edge: h2c Smuggling: A New 'Devastating' Kind of HTTP Request Smuggling

The indictment alleges their campaign ran from approximately July 2015 until at least February 2019, and targeted numerous organizations in the US and abroad. Defendants at one time had a target list of more than 1,800 online accounts, including some belonging to organizations focused on aerospace or satellite technology, as well as international government organizations in Australia, Israel, Singapore, the US, and the UK.

As part of the intrusion, the defendants used social engineering to identify real US citizens working in the aerospace and satellite fields whose identities they could use online. They then impersonated those people and used their stolen identities to register email addresses and buy domains and hacking tools to further their efforts. The attackers created spear-phishing emails to seem as though they came from the victims; they used these to deliver malware and give the attackers unauthorized access to target computers and networks, the DoJ explains.

Once inside an organization, they used hacking tools to maintain access, escalate privileges, and steal data the IRGC wanted. Attackers successfully compromised multiple target networks, leading to theft of sensitive commercial data, intellectual property, and personal data from companies, including a satellite-tracking firm and a satellite voice and data communication firm.

In a separate case, two Iranian nationals were charged on Sept. 16 in connection to a cyber-intrusion campaign aimed at computers in New Jersey as well as other parts of the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Hooman Heidarian, 30, and Mehdi Farhadi, 34, allegedly stole hundreds of terabytes of data. In some instances, the actions were politically motivated or at the behest of Iran; in others, the defendants sold the stolen data on the black market for monetary gain.

The information they stole typically included confidential communications related to national security, foreign policy intelligence, nonmilitary nuclear information, aerospace data, human rights activist information, victim financial information and personally identifiable data, and intellectual property, including unpublished scientific research, the DoJ reports.

In another case, two hackers were charged on Sept. 15 with damaging websites across the US as retaliation for US military action in January 2020 that killed Qasem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, also a US-designated foreign terrorist organization. Both were charged with one count of conspiring to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and one count of intentionally damaging a protected computer.

On the same day, the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation released an alert warning of a malicious Iran-based attacker targeting several federal US agencies and US-based networks. The report points to correlation with the Pioneer Kitten threat group, which is believed to have ties to the Iranian government, and says the attacker/s is exploiting CVEs related to VPN infrastructure to gain access to target networks.

Adding to this week's activity, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control today imposed sanctions on Iranian attack group APT39, 45 people linked to the group, and one front company. The Iranian government employed a years-long malware campaign to target Iranian dissidents, journalists, and international travel companies, the Treasury reports.

The front company, Rana Intelligence Computing Company, advances the goals of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) by launching cyberattacks and malware campaigns against perceived adversaries, including governments and individuals. Under the guise of Rana, MOIS has played a key role in Iran's abuse and surveillance of its own citizens, the report states.

 

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
News
A Startup With NSA Roots Wants Silently Disarming Cyberattacks on the Wire to Become the Norm
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/11/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Cybersecurity: What Is Truly Essential?
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  5/12/2021
Commentary
3 Cybersecurity Myths to Bust
Etay Maor, Sr. Director Security Strategy at Cato Networks,  5/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Google Maps is taking "interactive" to a whole new level!
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-18194
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Scripting (XSS) in emlog v6.0.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by adding a crafted script as a link to a new blog post.
CVE-2020-18195
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) in Pluck CMS v4.7.9 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and delete a specific article via the component " /admin.php?action=page."
CVE-2020-18198
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) in Pluck CMS v4.7.9 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code and delete specific images via the component " /admin.php?action=images."
CVE-2020-21831
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
A heap based buffer overflow vulnerability exists in GNU LibreDWG 0.10 via read_2004_section_handles ../../src/decode.c:2637.
CVE-2020-21842
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-17
A heap based buffer overflow vulnerability exists in GNU LibreDWG 0.10 via read_2004_section_revhistory ../../src/decode.c:3051.