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China’s Winnti Group Seen Targeting Governments in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong

China’s Winnti Group Seen Targeting Governments in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong

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China’s Winnti Group Seen Concentrating on Governments in Sri Lanka, Hong Kong

By Ionut Arghire on October 19, 2022


The Chinese language state-sponsored menace group Winnti has been noticed concentrating on governmental entities in Sri Lanka and Hong Kong in current campaigns.

Energetic since a minimum of 2007 and in addition tracked as APT41, Barium, Blackfly, Double Dragon, Depraved Panda, and Depraved Spider, the Winnti Group is believed to be shaped of a number of subgroups partaking in each cyberespionage and financially motivated operations.

As a part of a marketing campaign ongoing since early August, the menace actor has been deploying varied payloads towards authorities entities in Sri Lanka, together with the KeyPlug malware and a brand new backdoor referred to as DBoxAgent. This seems to be the primary time Winnti has focused Sri Lanka.

The timing of the marketing campaign – the assault falls in keeping with a geopolitical occasion involving China and Sri Lanka – and noticed ways, methods, and procedures (TTPs) counsel that the Winnti group was behind the operation, Malwarebytes says.

The assault begins with an ISO file masquerading as a doc and which accommodates a shortcut file posing as a folder, an executable, and a DLL file. When the meant sufferer clicks on the shortcut file, the executable runs and sideloads the malicious DLL.

Subsequent, shellcode representing a brand new backdoor referred to as DBoxAgent is loaded in reminiscence. The malware makes use of Dropbox for command and management (C&C), which permits it to bypass detection mechanisms, and offers the attackers with full management over the sufferer machine.

DBoxAgent permits the attackers to steal info from the system and to obtain further payloads. Malwarebytes has seen Winnti deploying SerialVlogger (second stage), VLOG.IPDB (third-stage DLL loader), and KeyPlug (fourth stage).

“This complete assault has Winnti signatures fingerprints throughout it. Probably the most important one in all probability is the usage of KeyPlug malware, which is solely utilized by this group, and more than likely developed by them,” Malwarebytes says.

Not too long ago, the Winnti group has additionally turned its consideration to authorities organizations in Hong Kong, in what seems to be a continuation of Operation CuckooBees, a cyberespionage marketing campaign that remained undetected for roughly three years.

As a part of this exercise, the attackers deployed the Spyder Loader trojan on their victims’ networks, more than likely for intelligence assortment. The ultimate payload used on this marketing campaign, nevertheless, stays elusive, says Symantec, which has been monitoring this exercise.

Nonetheless, the safety agency has seen the attackers deploying varied different instruments on the sufferer networks, together with a modified SQLite DLL, Mimikatz, and a trojanized ZLib DLL.

“Whereas we don’t see the ultimate payload delivered on this marketing campaign, the usage of the Spyder Loader malware and crossover with the exercise beforehand recognized […], mixed with the victims seen on this current exercise, make it more than likely that the motivation behind this exercise is intelligence gathering,” Symantec notes.

Associated: China’s Winnti Group Hacked at Least 13 Organizations in 2021: Safety Agency

Associated: U.S. State Governments Focused by Chinese language Hackers by way of Zero-Day in Agriculture Instrument

Associated: China-Linked Winnti APT Group Silently Stole Commerce Secrets and techniques for Years: Report

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