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The Weekly Briefing 06/21

Iranian Hackers Utilize ScreenConnect to Spy

UAE and Kuwait government agencies are targets of a new cyberespionage campaign potentially carried out by Iranian threat actors, according to new research.

Attributing the operation to be the work of Static Kitten (aka MERCURY or MuddyWater), Anomali said the "objective of this activity is to install a remote management tool called ScreenConnect (acquired by ConnectWise 2015) with unique launch parameters that have custom properties," with malware samples and URLs masquerading as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Kuwait and the UAE National Council.

Since its origins in 2017, MuddyWater has been tied to a number of attacks primarily against Middle Eastern nations, actively exploiting Zerologon vulnerability in real-world attack campaigns to strike prominent Israeli organizations with malicious payloads.

The state-sponsored hacking group is believed to be working at the behest of Iran's Islamic Republic Guard Corps, the country's primary intelligence and military service.

Anomali said it spotted two separate lure ZIP files hosted on Onehub that claimed to contain a report on relations between Arab countries and Israel or a file relating to scholarships.

The ultimate goal of the attackers, it appears, is to use the software to connect to endpoints on client networks, enabling them to conduct further lateral movements and execute arbitrary commands in target environments in a bid to facilitate data theft.

"Utilizing legitimate software for malicious purposes can be an effective way for threat actors to obfuscate their operations," the researchers concluded. "In this latest example, Static Kitten is very likely using features of ScreenConnect to steal sensitive information or download malware for additional cyber operations."

LodaRAT Windows Malware Now Also Targets Android Devices

A previously known Windows remote access Trojan (RAT) with credential-stealing capabilities has now expanded its scope to set its sights on users of Android devices to further the attacker's espionage motives.

"The developers of LodaRAT have added Android as a targeted platform," Cisco Talos researchers said in a Tuesday analysis. "A new iteration of LodaRAT for Windows has been identified with improved sound recording capabilities."

Kasablanca, the group behind the malware, is said to have deployed the new RAT in an ongoing hybrid campaign targeting Bangladeshi users, the researchers noted.

The reason why Bangladesh-based organizations have been specifically singled out for this campaign remains unclear, as is the identity of the threat actor.

10 SIM Swappers Arrested for Stealing $100M in Crypto from Celebrities

Ten people belonging to a criminal network have been arrested in connection with a series of SIM-swapping attacks that resulted in the theft of more than $100 million by hijacking the mobile phone accounts of high-profile individuals in the U.S.

The Europol-coordinated year-long investigation was jointly conducted by law enforcement authorities from the U.K., U.S., Belgium, Malta, and Canada.

"The attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020, including famous internet influencers, sport stars, musicians and their families," Europol said in a statement. "The criminals are believed to have stolen from them over $100 million in cryptocurrencies after illegally gaining access to their phones."

The eight suspects, aged 18 to 26, are said to be part of a larger ring, two members of which were nabbed previously in Malta and Belgium. The latest arrests were made in England and Scotland.

The sweep comes almost a year after Europol led an operation to dismantle two SIM swap criminal groups that stole €3.5 million ($3.9 million) by orchestrating a wave of more than 100 attacks targeting victims in Austria, emptying their bank accounts through their phone numbers.

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