US Shares Info On Russian Malware Used To Target Parliaments, Embassies

US Cyber Command today shared information on malware implants used by Russian hacking groups in attacks targeting multiple ministries of foreign affairs, national parliaments, and embassies.

The malware samples were identified by US Cyber Command’s Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) unit and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and uploaded today to the Virus Total online virus scan platform.

CISA also published two advisories in collaboration with the FBI and CNMF detailing additional info regarding the ComRAT and Zebrocy malware used by the Russian state-sponsored Turla and APT 28 hacking groups in these attacks.

Backdoors used to target governments

The Turla group (aka VENOMOUS BEAR and Waterbug) known for being active since 1996 in attacks targeting the U.S. Central Commandthe Pentagon and NASA, also used the ComRAT backdoor in attacks against “ministries of foreign affairs & national parliaments to spy, steal data, & install malware.”

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“FBI has high-confidence that Russian-sponsored APT actor Turla, which is an espionage group active for at least a decade, is using ComRAT malware to exploit victim networks,” an advisory published today says. “The group is well known for its custom tools and targeted operations.”

The Zebrocy backdoor was also spotted while being deployed in attacks focused on embassies and ministries of foreign affairs from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Two Windows executables identified as a new variant of the Zebrocy backdoor were submitted for analysis,” CISA says. “The file is designed to allow a remote operator to perform various functions on the compromised system.”

While CISA’s advisory doesn’t name the threat actor behind these series of attacks, Zebrocy is known for being associated with the APT 28 (aka Sofacy, Fancy Bear, Sednit, STRONTIUM) Russian-backed hacker group.

They are known to be members of Unit 26165 and Unit 74455 of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and for coordinating multiple cyber-espionage campaigns targeting governments around the world.

Among them, APT 28 was involved in a 2015 hack of the German federal parliament and attacks targeting the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in 2016.

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The advisories published today by CISA also provide administrators and users with best practices designed to help them boost their organization’s defenses against future attacks using these backdoors.

US Cyber Commands previously exposed new malware variants deployed by malicious cyber activity campaigns coordinated by North Korean government-backed hackers.

The malware was being used “for phishing and remote access by DPRK cyber actors to conduct illegal activity, steal funds & evade sanctions.”

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