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

Major cryptocurrency losses for SMBs from BlueNoroff threat actor

By Shannon Williams
Thu 20 Jan 2022

Kaspersky experts have uncovered a series of attacks by advanced persistent threat (APT) actor BlueNoroff against small and medium-sized companies worldwide, resulting in major cryptocurrency losses for the victims.

The campaign, dubbed SnatchCrypto, is aimed at various companies that, by the nature of their work, deal with cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, DeFi, Blockchain, and the FinTech industry.

In BlueNoroff's most recent campaign, the attackers have been subtly abusing the trust of the employees working at targeted companies by sending them a full-featured Windows backdoor with surveillance functions under the guise of a contract or another business file. In order to eventually empty the victim's crypto wallet, the actor has developed extensive and dangerous resources: complex infrastructure, exploits, malware implants.

BlueNoroff is part of the larger Lazarus group and uses their diversified structure and sophisticated attack technologies. The Lazarus APT group is known for attacks on banks and servers connected to SWIFT, and has even engaged in the creation of fake companies for the development of cryptocurrency software. The deceived clients subsequently installed legitimate-looking apps and, after a while, received backdoored updates.

Kaspersky says this Lazarus branch has now switched to attacking cryptocurrency startups. As most of cryptocurrency businesses are small or medium-sized startups, they cannot invest lots of money into their internal security system. The actor understands this point and takes advantage of it by using elaborate social engineering schemes, it says.

To gain the victims trust, BlueNoroff pretends to be an existing venture capital company. Kaspersky researchers uncovered over 15 venture businesses, whose brand name and employee names were abused during the SnatchCrypto campaign. Kaspersky experts also believe that real companies have nothing to do with this attack or the emails. The start-up crypto sphere was chosen by cybercriminals for a reason: startups often receive letters or files from unfamiliar sources. For example, a venture company may send them a contract or other business-related files. The APT-actor uses this as bait to make victims open the attachment in email a macro-enabled document.

An attentive user may spot that something fishy is happening while MS Word shows a standard loading popup window.

If the document was to be opened offline, the file would not represent anything dangerous - most likely, it would look like a copy of some kind of contract or another harmless document. But if the computer is connected to the Internet at the time of opening the file, another macro-enabled document is fetched to the victim's device, deploying malware.

This APT group has various methods in their infection arsenal and assembles the infection chain depending on the situation. Besides weaponised Word documents, the actor also spreads malware disguised as zipped Windows shortcut files. It sends the victim's general information and Powershell agent, which then creates a full-featured backdoor. Using this, BlueNoroff deploys other malicious tools to monitor the victim: a keylogger and screenshot taker.

According to Kaspersky, the attackers then track victims for weeks and months: they collect keystrokes and monitor the daily operations of the user, while planning a strategy for financial theft. Having found a prominent target that uses a popular browser extension to manage crypto wallets (for example, the Metamask extension), they replace the main component of the extension with a fake version.

The researchers says the attackers receive a notification upon discovering large transfers. When the compromised user attempts to transfer some funds to another account, they intercept the transaction process and inject their own logic. To complete the initiated payment, the user then clicks the "approve" button. At this moment, cybercriminals are changing the recipient's address and maximising the transaction amount, essentially draining the account in one move.

The group is currently active and attacks users regardless of which country they are from

"As attackers continuously come up with a lot of new ways to trick and abuse, even small businesses should educate their employees on basic cybersecurity practices," says Seongsu Park, senior security researcher at Kaspersky's Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT).

"It is especially essential if the company works with crypto wallets: there is nothing wrong with using cryptocurrency services and extensions, but note that it is also an attractive target for APT and cybercriminals alike. Therefore, this sector needs to be well protected.,"

For organisations protection, Kaspersky suggests the following:

  • Provide your staff with basic cybersecurity hygiene training, as many targeted attacks start with phishing or other social engineering techniques;
  • Carry out a cybersecurity audit of your networks and remediate any weaknesses discovered in the perimeter or inside the network.
  • The injection of the extension is hard to find manually, unless you are very familiar with the Metamask codebase. However, a modification of the Chrome extension leaves a trace. The browser has to be switched to Developer Mode and the Metamask extension is installed from a local directory instead of the online store. If the plugin comes from the store, Chrome enforces digital signature validation for the code and guarantees code integrity. So, if you are in doubt, check your Metamask extension and Chrome settings right now.
  • Install anti-APT and EDR solutions, enabling threat discovery and detection, investigation and timely remediation of incidents capabilities. Provide your SOC team with access to the latest threat intelligence and regularly upskill them with professional training. All of the above is available within the Kaspersky Expert Security framework.
  • Along with proper endpoint protection, dedicated services can help against high-profile attacks. The Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service can help identify and stop attacks in their early stages, before the attackers achieve their goals.
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Companies rushing to secure print infrastructure
As the pandemic prioritised communication channels and the shift to remote work, IT departments fell behind in updating the security of print and IT infrastructure.
Story image
Fortinet
Fortinet sees 34% revenue increase in latest financial results
Fortinet has released its financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022, seeing a total revenue increase of 34.4% compared to the same quarter last year.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Datacom, Micro Focus, SnapLogic and VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 6-12, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Data Protection
Managed Service Providers key to customer data protection
Frequent cyberattacks in the ASEAN region drive the demand for MSPs that can deliver purpose-built security solutions for SME customers.
Story image
Phishing
Google reveals new safety and security measures for users
Google's new measures include automatic two step verification, virtual cards and making it easier to remove contact information on Google Search results.
Story image
Cybersecurity
HackerOne launches Attack Resistance Management solution
HackerOne has launched Attack Resistance Management - a new category of security solution that targets the root causes of the attack resistance gap. 
Story image
Hyperscale
SpaceDC partners with Aofei for data center sales in Asia
SpaceDC has partnered with Aofei Data International to sell Aofei's data centers, CDN and SDN in China.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Malware
Sharp increase in phishing as cybercriminals leverage SEO to lure victims
"Malware lurking everywhere, from cloud apps to search engines, leaving organisations at greater risk than ever before."
Story image
Forensics
Exterro adds advanced capabilities to digital forensic tool
The launch is in-line with Exterro’s investment in the FTK product line, and underscores the company's commitment to the digital forensics.
Story image
Mitiga
Mitiga discovers potential hidden dangers in Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) cloud control plane
The company also says that there is significant risk in cloud development caused by not recognising the differences between cloud and traditional definitions of common architecture terms.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Cybersecurity
CyberArk launches $30M investment fund to advance security
CyberArk has announced the launch of CyberArk Ventures, a $30 million global investment fund dedicated to advancing the next generation of security disruptors.
Story image
Training
Fortinet training edges toward closing cybersecurity gap
The Fortinet Training Institute has made significant progress in closing the cybersecurity skills gap, on track to train one million people by 2026.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
VPN
Palo Alto Networks says ZTNA 1.0 not secure enough
Palo Alto Networks is urging the industry to move to Zero Trust Network Access 2.0 because previous versions have major gaps in security protection.
Story image
Appian
Appian awarded billions in damages against Pegasystems Inc.
Appian has been awarded USD$2.036 billion in damages against Pegasystems Inc as the result of a jury verdict in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Virginia.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
IBM study reveals changing sentiments around AI ethics
80% of respondents pointed to a non-technical executive, such as a CEO, as the primary 'champion' for AI ethics, a sharp uptick from 15% in 2018.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Updates from Google Workspace set to ease hybrid working troubles
Google Workspace has announced a variety of new features which will utilise Google AI capabilities to help make hybrid working situations more efficient and effective.
Story image
Ransomware
Anniversaries remind us to review identity risks
World Password Day provides a timely reminder for ordinary citizens and organisations to stop and think about the risks associated with digital identities.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
ForgeRock releases Autonomous Access solution powered by AI
ForgeRock has officially introduced ForgeRock Autonomous Access, a new solution that uses AI to prevent identity-based cyber attacks and fraud.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Cisco, Hitachi Vantara, Tricentis & Zscaler
We round up all job appointments from April 28 - May 5, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Ivanti
Ivanti and Lookout bring zero trust security to hybrid work
Ivanti and Lookout have joined forces to help organisations accelerate cloud adoption and mature their zero trust security posture in the everywhere workplace.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Physical security systems guide the hybrid workplace to new heights
Organisations are reviewing how data gathered from their physical security systems can optimise, protect and enhance their business operations in unique ways.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
New report reveals evolving techniques targeting cloud-native environments
Companies are adopting cloud-native technologies faster than ever before. Unfortunately, with new technology comes new threats and challenges.
Story image
APAC
Odaseva expands in APAC and UK with more security features
Odaseva, a data platform for Salesforce, is establishing new headquarters in London as well as a new data center in India.
Story image
Blue Prism
Blue Prism Desktop uses IA to defend against vulnerabilities
SS&C Blue Prism Desktop aims to help protect businesses against vulnerabilities, using a combination of security measures and intelligent automation tech.
Story image
Surveillance
Genetec launches new enclosure management system for data centers
Genetec has released a new enclosure management solution that will give data centers the ability to secure, monitor and manage access to racks and cabinets remotely.
Story image
Cybersecurity
ThoughtLab reveals 10 best practices for cybersecurity in 2022
The benchmarking study reveals best practices that can reduce the probability of a material breach and the time it takes to find and respond to those that happen.
Story image
Firewall
Sophos named Gartner Peer Insights Customers Choice for network firewalls
The company earned the highest overall customer rating among vendors with at least 150 verified customer reviews.
Story image
Malware
Use of malware, botnets and exploits expands in Q1 2022
"As zero-day attacks and other vulnerabilities among companies like Google and Microsoft come to light, threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics."
Story image
Microsoft
Apple, Google and Microsoft expands plans to get rid of passwords
FIDO Alliance says the world is closer to not relying on passwords after Apple, Google and Microsoft expands their support for a passwordless sign-in standard.
Story image
Ransomware
Zerto unveils updates to ransomware recovery capabilities
"Organisations face increased risks from the volume and sophistication of ransomware attacks prevalent today."
Story image
SaaS
Absolute Software expands Secure Access product offering
Absolute Software is enhancing its Secure Access product portfolio, enabling minimised risk exposure and optimised user experiences in the hybrid working environment.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from IronNet
Michael Ehrlich joins us today to discuss the history of IronNet and the crucial role the company plays in the cyber defence space.
Story image
Application Security
Data Theorem launches "industry first" attack surface management solution
"No solution uses full-stack application runtime analysis and dynamic inventory discovery to support the challenges around vendor management."
Story image
Public Cloud
Radware announced launch of CNP spinoff SkyHawk Security
“We recognise the growing opportunities in the public cloud security market and are planning to capitalise on them."