SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Kaspersky uncovers details about active cyber-espionage campaign

Nearly 10 years since Kaspersky experts unmasked an active cyber-espionage campaign primarily targeting South Korean think-tanks, the state-sponsored group known as Kimsuky continues to show prolific updating of tools and tactics.

Kaspersky's senior expert revealed more of his findings, including the possibility of this Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) threat actor expanding its operations with its abundant capabilities.

Kimsuky, also known as Thallium, Black Banshee and Velvet Chollima, has been in Kaspersky's radar since 2013 and it is known to update its tools very quickly to hide its infrastructure and make it harder for security researchers and auto-analysis systems to acquire payloads.

Seongsu Park, Lead Security Researcher for Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) at Kaspersky, found that the notorious group has continuously configured multi-stage command and control servers (C2) with various commercial hosting services located around the world.

A command and control server is a server that helps a threat actor control their malware and send malicious commands to its members, regulate spyware, send payload, and more.

Park says, “From less than 100 C2 servers in 2019, Kimsuky now has 603 malicious command centres as of July this year which clearly suggests that the threat actor is posed to launch more attacks, possibly beyond the Korean peninsula.

"Its history suggests that government agencies, diplomatic entities, media, and even cryptocurrency businesses in APAC should be on high alert against this stealthy threat."

The skyrocketing number of C2 servers is part of Kimsuky’s continuous operations in APAC and beyond. In early 2022, Kaspersky’s team of experts observed another wave of attacks targeting journalists and diplomatic and academic entities in South Korea.

Dubbed as the GoldDragon cluster, the threat actor initiated the infection chain by sending a spearphishing email containing a macro-embedded Word document. Various examples of different Word documents used for this new attack were uncovered, each showing different decoy contents related to geopolitical issues in the Korean Peninsula.

Further analysis allowed Park to discover server-side scripts related to the GoldDragon cluster, which allowed the experts to map the group's C2 operation.

The actor sends a spear-phishing email to the potential victim to download additional documents. If the victim clicks the link, it results in a connection to the first stage C2 server, with an email address as parameter.

The first stage C2 server verifies the incoming email address parameter is an expected one and delivers the malicious document if it's in the target list. The first stage script also forwards the victim's IP address to the next stage server.

When the fetched document is opened, it connects to the second C2 server. The corresponding script on the second C2 server checks the IP address forwarded from the first stage server to check if it's an expected request from the same victim.

Using this IP validation scheme, the actor verifies whether the incoming request is from the victim or not. On top of that, the operator relies on several other processes to carefully deliver the next payload such as checking OS type and predefined user-agent strings.

Park says, “Another notable technique Kimsuky utilises is the use of verification process of the client to confirm its relevant victim they want to compromise. Kaspersky experts even saw contents of decoy documents having various topics including the agenda of the 2022 Asian Leadership Conference, a form of honorarium request, and an Australian diplomats curriculum vitae.

"We've seen that the Kimsuky group continuously evolves malware infection schemes and adopts novel techniques to hinder analysis. The difficulty in tracking this group is that it's tough to acquire a full-infection chain. As we can see from this research, most recently, threat actors adopt victim verification methodology in their command and control servers.

"Despite the difficulty of getting server-side objects, if we analyse an attacker's server and malware from the victims side, we can fully understand how the threat actors operate their infrastructure and what kind of techniques they employ."

To protect systems and networks from Kimsuky's clandestine tactics and techniques, Kaspersky experts suggest:

  • Full-context based defence is the key
  • Hit-and-run style defence never works
  • To understand the full-context of threats, it is advised to have services that provide in-depth and real-time reports and analysis
  • Diversify defence points
  • Cooperation with other industry
  • Each sector has different sets of strength and expertise
  • Cooperation is essential to understand multidimension of cyber threats in turn allowing better strategies against them
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Val Novoselova joins us today to to discuss new trends in the information security space, and how SearchInform is adapting to some of the new trends we are seeing.
Story image
Secure Code Warrior
Secure Code Warrior announces Coding Labs innovation
Coding Labs mechanisms allow developers to move from learning to applying secure coding knowledge more efficiently, leading to fewer code vulnerabilities.
Story image
Phishing
Vectra Protect team finds Microsoft Teams vulnerability
The Vectra Protect team identified a post-exploitation opportunity in August, allowing malicious actors to steal valid user credentials from Microsoft Teams.
Story image
Cybersecurity
StackHawk launches deeper API security test coverage
Expansion of test coverage includes custom scan discovery, custom test scripts and custom test data for REST APIs.
Story image
Ransomware
Absolute recognised in KuppingerCole Leadership Compass 2022
The company's Absolute Secure Access was recognised for its ability to protect users and resources while improving the remote worker experience.
Story image
Observability
Virtualisation Security Market to reach over $7 billion by 2032 - report
A new report from Future Market Insights has found that the Virtualisation Security Market is anticipated to reach a valuation of US $7.6 billion.
Story image
Software Defined Wide Area Network
Versa Networks recognised as Leader in Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN
The company has been positioned as a Leader for its ability to execute and convey completeness of vision in the Magic Quadrant.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Cyber security incidents more common in APAC - report
Chief financial officers in the Asia Pacific are woefully uninformed about their company's cyber security risks, according to a new report.
Story image
Partnerships
Concentric AI, Snowflake to enhance data security posture
The integration benefits joint customers by making Concentric AI's data security posture management capabilities readily available on the Snowflake Data Cloud. 
Story image
Distributed Denial of Service
Reevaluating DDoS protection for a changing threat landscape
DDoS attacks are gaining in frequency, intensity, duration, and complexity, with attackers employing more vectors
Story image
Malware
Absolute Software extends persistence technology to Trellix
Customers can benefit from Absolute’s firmware-embedded connection, ensuring that Trellix's endpoint protection solution remains effective and healthy.
Story image
Compliance
Security and compliance challenges halt innovation strategies
"What’s needed is a new mindset and a fresh approach, one in which security and compliance are continuous and actually speed innovation."
Story image
Malware
SonicWall threat report mid-year update highlights significant threat variance
The 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report mid-year update from SonicWall gives an in-depth insight into many of the current trends across the threat landscape.
Story image
Ransomware
Commvault unveils early warning system, Metallic ThreatWise
A first among data protection vendors, the new cyber deception service detects and contains ransomware threats.
Story image
Enterprise
Delinea shares the importance of PAM, partners and security for modern enterprise
Identity-based security is becoming a crucial tool for modern enterprises as they continue to adapt to different working environments.
Story image
Customer Relationship Management
Why Managed Service Providers are the next big target
MSPs are now such an integral part of the digital ecosystem that companies trust more of their sensitive data with them
Story image
Cybersecurity
Confidence in security challenges of hybrid work improving
84% of IT professionals have some degree of confidence in their user access security systems to enable remote work securely and easily, up from 56% in 2021.
Story image
Network Security
20/20 visibility key to improving network security
IT leaders around the world share a ubiquitous appetite for greater network visibility, according to a new study from Infoblox.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hands-on review: Yubikey 5C NFC
Founded in 2007 and specialising in computer and network security, the Swedish company Yubico is now a leader in global authentication.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Report highlights gaps in trust between enterprises and consumers
ISACA defines digital trust as the confidence in the integrity of relationships, interactions and transactions among providers and consumers.
Story image
Phishing
Barracuda adds Zero Trust Access to enhance email security
The new capabilities allow customers to control access to email systems and Microsoft 365 applications on a need-to-know basis, enhancing email security.
Story image
Software Defined Wide Area Network
Fortinet named Leader for SD-WAN in 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant
The company has announced it has been positioned highest in ability to execute for two years in a row and recognised for completeness of vision.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security solution to stop software supply chain attacks
Development and security teams can now proactively address the most critical software supply chain risks from code through runtime.
Story image
IoT security
Nozomi Networks and WALLIX strengthen OT network security
By combining WALLIX and Nozomi Networks solutions, end-to-end visibility and traceability for maximum security in an industrial environment is provided.
Story image
Cloud
Netskope launches enhancements to cloud firewall solution
Netskope has announced key enhancements to Netskope Cloud Firewall, the firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) component of its converged SASE platform.
Story image
Software-as-a-Service
Varonis unveils new security features for Salesforce admins
Data security firm adds one-click permissions comparison and analysis features for Salesforce admins, saving them time while improving security posture.
AWS Marketplace
Whitepaper: A practical guide for mitigating risk in today’s modern applications
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Test your API Security with Infinite API Scanner
The effectiveness of API scanning technology can mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful programming outcomes, and often enterprises and IT leaders struggle to get it right.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock announces next gen identity orchestration capabilities
ForgeRock has launched identity orchestration capabilities to enable enterprises to deliver improved user experiences secured by threat protection.
Aws Marketplace
Learn how to implement a backup and recovery plan for a new generation of Kubernetes-based modern applications
Link image
Story image
IT infrastructure
Check Point Software Technologies launches new Horizon innovation
There is now a need for all organisations to have a security operations centre with 24/7 monitoring, response, and threat-hunting capabilities.
Story image
Security vulnerabilities
Claroty finds seven vulnerabilities in Dataprobe iBoot-PDU
The Claroty research team (Team82) has found seven vulnerabilities in Dataprobe's iBoot-PDU, the company's intelligent power distribution unit product.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity - Future Market Insights
It is projected that revenue through the software segment in the AI in the cybersecurity market will grow at 15.8% CAGR during the forecast period. 
Story image
Encryption
Entrust advances Sigma Instant Issuance Platform for cards
Unique light curing module for Entrust Sigma instant issuance systems brings new financial card durability and personalization to card issuers.
Story image
Web Development
Oracle reveals and releases new Java 19 updates
Oracle has announced the availability of Java 19, which is set to deliver performance, stability, and security improvements for developers.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda adds web security in Zero Trust Access solution
The latest release of Barracuda CloudGen Access protects users from malicious web content and strengthens integration with identity providers.
Story image
Malware
August's top malware: Emotet knocked off top spot
FormBook is now the most prevalent malware, taking over from Emotet, which has held that position since its reappearance in January.
Story image
Firewall
Barracuda tackles intensified threat landscape with latest releases
"The Barracuda XDR solution combines data across our security stacks through a single dashboard view, giving us the visibility we need."
Story image
Cloud Security
CrowdStrike launches new partner program to expand routes to market
"We developed the CPSP program in partnership with GSIs, MDR vendors, MSPs, MSSPs and Telcos to ensure we were meeting their needs and empowering them."
Story image
Cryptocurrency
Crypto giveaway scams continue to soar, according to report
There's been a fivefold increase in the number of domains used for crypto giveaway scams that involve fake YouTube streams in the first half of 2022.