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The Weekly Briefing - 03/21


Dark Market Taken Down In International Police Operation


Europol on Tuesday said it shut down DarkMarket, the world's largest online marketplace for illicit goods, as part of an international operation involving Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA), and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


At the time of closure, DarkMarket is believed to have had 500,000 users and more than 2,400 vendors, with over 320,000 transactions resulting in the transfer of more than 4,650 bitcoin and 12,800 monero — a sum total of €140 million ($170 million).


The illegal internet market specialized in the sales of drugs, counterfeit money, stolen or forged credit card information, anonymous SIM cards, and off-the-shelf malware.


New Android Malware Sold On Hacking Forums

Cybersecurity researchers have exposed the operations of an Android malware vendor who teamed up with a second threat actor to market and sell a remote access Trojan (RAT) capable of device takeover and exfiltration of photos, locations, contacts, and messages from popular apps such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, Telegram, Kik, Line, and Google Messages.


The vendor, who goes by the name of "Triangulum" in a number of darknet forums, is alleged to be a 25-year-old man of Indian origin, with the individual opening up shop to sell the malware three years ago on June 10, 2017, according to an analysis published by Check Point Research today.


"The product was a mobile RAT, targeting Android devices and capable of exfiltration of sensitive data from a C&C server, destroying local data – even deleting the entire OS, at times," the researchers said.



Undocumented Chinese Malware Used In Recent Attacks


Cybersecurity researchers have disclosed a series of attacks by a threat actor of Chinese origin that has targeted organizations in Russia and Hong Kong with malware — including a previously undocumented backdoor.


Attributing the campaign to Winnti (or APT41), Positive Technologies dated the first attack to May 12, 2020, when the APT used LNK shortcuts to extract and run the malware payload. A second attack detected on May 30 used a malicious RAR archive file consisting of shortcuts to two bait PDF documents claimed to be a curriculum vitae and an IELTS certificate.


Malware Attacks Against Colombian Government & Corporations


In a report published by ESET on Tuesday, the Slovak internet security company said the attacks — dubbed "Operation Spalax" — began in 2020, with the modus operandi sharing some similarities to an APT group targeting the country since at least April 2018, but also different in other ways.


The overlaps come in the form of phishing emails, which have similar topics and pretend to come from some of the same entities that were used in a February 2019 operation disclosed by QiAnXin researchers, and subdomain names used for command-and-control (C2) servers.

However, the two campaigns diverge in the attachments used for phishing emails, the remote access trojans (RATs) deployed, and the C2 infrastructure employed to fetch the malware dropped.


The attack chain begins with the targets receiving phishing emails that lead to the download of malicious files, which are RAR archives hosted on OneDrive or MediaFire containing various droppers responsible for decrypting and running RATs such as Remcos, njRAT, and AsyncRAT on a victimized computer.


Microsoft Issues Patches for Defender Zero-Day and Other Windows Flaws


For the first patch Tuesday of 2021, Microsoft released security updates addressing a total of 83 flaws spanning as many as 11 products and services, including an actively exploited zero-day vulnerability.


The latest security patches cover Microsoft Windows, Edge browser, ChakraCore, Office and Microsoft Office Services, and Web Apps, Visual Studio, Microsoft Malware Protection Engine, .NET Core, ASP .NET, and Azure. Of these 83 bugs, 10 are listed as Critical, and 73 are listed as Important in severity.


The most severe of the issues is a remote code execution (RCE) flaw in Microsoft Defender (CVE-2021-1647) that could allow attackers to infect targeted systems with arbitrary code.


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