Hackers Exploit IT Monitoring Tool Centreon to Target Several French Entities

Russia-connected point out-sponsored risk actor known as Sandworm has been linked to a 3-yr-very long stealthy procedure to hack targets by exploiting an IT monitoring tool known as Centreon.

The intrusion campaign — which breached “several French entities” — is stated to have started off in late 2017 and lasted right until 2020, with the attacks notably impacting website-internet hosting companies, said the French data stability agency ANSSI in an advisory.

“On compromised programs, ANSSI learned the existence of a backdoor in the form of a webshell dropped on various Centreon servers exposed to the internet,” the agency mentioned on Monday. “This backdoor was recognized as staying the PAS webshell, variation number 3.1.4. On the very same servers, ANSSI uncovered an additional backdoor equivalent to 1 described by ESET and named Exaramel.”

The Russian hacker group (also called APT28, TeleBots, Voodoo Bear, or Iron Viking) is stated to be driving some of the most devastating cyberattacks in previous many years, together with that of Ukraine’s power grid in 2016, the NotPetya ransomware outbreak of 2017, and the Pyeongchang Winter season Olympics in 2018.

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Even though the original assault vector appears mysterious as nevertheless, the compromise of target networks was tied to Centreon, an application, and network monitoring application produced by a French corporation of the exact same name.

Centreon, established in 2005, counts Airbus, Air Caraïbes, ArcelorMittal, BT, Luxottica, Kuehne + Nagel, Ministère de la Justice français, New Zealand Law enforcement, PWC Russia, Salomon, Sanofi, and Sephora among its clients. It truly is not very clear how a lot of or which businesses have been breached by using the software hack.

Compromised servers ran the CENTOS operating system (version 2.5.2), ANSSI said, including it observed on the two distinctive kinds of malware — one publicly offered webshell identified as PAS, and one more known as Exaramel, which has been applied by Sandworm in former assaults since 2018.


The world-wide-web shell will come outfitted with capabilities to cope with file functions, look for the file method, interact with SQL databases, carry out brute-power password assaults in opposition to SSH, FTP, POP3, and MySQL, produce a reverse shell, and run arbitrary PHP instructions.

Exaramel, on the other hand, functions as a remote administration resource able of shell command execution and copying files to and fro amongst an attacker-managed server and the infected method. It also communicates employing HTTPS with its command-and-management (C2) server in purchase to retrieve a list of instructions to operate.

In addition, ANSSI’s investigation uncovered the use of frequent VPN products and services in get to connect to world wide web shells, with overlaps in C2 infrastructure connecting the procedure to Sandworm.

“The intrusion established Sandworm is recognised to direct consequent intrusion campaigns right before focusing on distinct targets that suits its strategic pursuits in just the victims pool,” the researchers in depth. “The marketing campaign observed by ANSSI fits this conduct.”

In mild of the SolarWinds supply-chain attack, it should really appear as no surprise that checking programs these as Centreon have come to be a rewarding focus on for bad actors to attain a foothold and laterally move throughout sufferer environments. But contrary to the former’s provide chain compromise, the freshly disclosed assaults vary in that they show up to have been carried out by leveraging net-struggling with servers functioning Centreon’s software within the victims’ networks.

“It is therefore recommended to update applications as quickly as vulnerabilities are public and corrective patches are issued,” ANSSI warned. “It is suggested both not to expose these tools’ website interfaces to [the] Net or to restrict this sort of accessibility applying non-applicative authentication.”

In Oct 2020, the U.S. governing administration formally billed 6 Russian military officers for their participation in damaging malware assaults orchestrated by this team, linking the Sandworm risk group to Device 74455 of the Russian Primary Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a army intelligence agency component of the Russian Army.

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