Elfin Hacking Group Targets Multiple U.S. and Saudi Arabian Firms

An Iran-connected cyber-espionage team that has been uncovered targeting critical infrastructure, vitality and navy sectors in Saudi Arabia and the United States two several years ago proceeds targeting organizations in the two nations, Symantec documented on Wednesday.

Commonly known as APT33, which Symantec phone calls Elfin, the cyber-espionage group has been active considering the fact that as early as late 2015 and targeted a extensive assortment of companies, such as authorities, investigation, chemical, engineering, producing, consulting, finance, and telecommunications in the Middle East and other parts of the environment.

Symantec began checking Elfin’s attacks since the starting of 2016 and located that the team has launched a heavily qualified campaign in opposition to multiple businesses with 42% most current attacks noticed in opposition to Saudi Arabia and 34% in opposition to the United States.

Elfin focused a whole of 18 American corporations in the engineering, chemical, exploration, electricity consultancy, finance, IT and healthcare sectors over the previous a few a long time, which includes a range of Fortune 500 corporations.

“Some of these U.S. corporations might have been qualified by Elfin for the function of mounting source chain attacks,” Symantec claimed in its web site publish. “In a person instance, a big U.S. firm was attacked in the very same month a Middle Eastern enterprise it co-owns was also compromised.”

Hackers Even now Exploiting Just lately Found out WinRAR Flaw

The APT33 group has also been exploiting a not too long ago disclosed, critical vulnerability (CVE-2018-20250) in the broadly applied WinRAR file compression software that allows attackers silently extract malicious documents from a harmless archive file to a Home windows Startup folder, eventually allowing for them to execute arbitrary code on the focused computer system.

The vulnerability was by now patched by the WinRAR workforce previous thirty day period but was found actively exploited by numerous hacking groups and personal hackers straight away soon after its aspects and proof-of-strategy (PoC) exploit code went general public.

In the APT33 marketing campaign, the WinRAR exploit was utilized from a qualified group in the chemical sector in Saudi Arabia, wherever two of its consumers acquired a file by means of a spear-phishing e-mail that tried to exploit the WinRAR vulnerability.

Even though Symantec is not the only business that noticed attacks exploiting the WinRAR flaw, safety agency FireEye also identified four different strategies that have been discovered exploiting the WinRAR vulnerability to install password stealers, trojans and other destructive software package.

What’s a lot more? APT33 has deployed a extensive variety of tools in its customized malware toolkit together with the Notestuk backdoor (aka TURNEDUP), the Stonedrill Trojan and a malware backdoor composed in AutoIt.

Other than its tailor made malware, APT33 also used many commodity malware equipment, like Remcos, DarkComet, Quasar RAT, Pupy RAT, NanoCore, and NetWeird, along with quite a few publicly obtainable hacking equipment, like Mimikatz, SniffPass, LaZagne, and Gpppassword.

APT33/Elfin Inbound links to Shamoon Attacks

In December 2018, the APT33 team was linked to a wave of Shamoon assaults concentrating on the power sector, one particular of which contaminated a firm in Saudi Arabia with the Stonedrill malware made use of by Elfin.

“A single Shamoon victim in Saudi Arabia had a short while ago also been attacked by Elfin and experienced been infected with the Stonedrill malware made use of by Elfin. For the reason that the Elfin and the Shamoon attacks towards this corporation occurred so near collectively, there has been speculation that the two teams might be connected,” Symantec mentioned.

“Even so, Symantec has discovered no further proof to suggest Elfin was responsible for these Shamoon attacks to day. We proceed to observe the pursuits of both of those teams closely.”

In late 2017, cybersecurity company FireEye claimed it uncovered proof that APT33 works on behalf of the Iranian governing administration, and that the team has efficiently focused aviation sector—both navy and commercial—along with businesses in the electricity sector.

Symantec explained APT33 as “one of the most lively teams at the moment running in the Center East” focusing on a diverse array of sectors, with “willingness to continuously revise its methods and come across whatever equipment it will take to compromise its next set of victims.”

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