2020 - II Quarterly Bulletin
C3 TOP – Threat Observatory Platform
Threat Agent activities
Behind every cyber-attack there is an actor with a specific intent. However, for many events, the identity and general motivation are unknown. On the other hand, some groups have been well known for years and their criminal activities and techniques are documented and monitored. Typically, they conduct targeted attacks against specific organisations, using relatively sophisticated tools and attack procedures.
Some of them are considered as State-sponsored, but the actual link with various countries stays often subject of controversies and should be considered with prudence.
During the second quarter of 2020 has been observed a general decrease of identifiable threat groups’ activity. Comparing the 1th quarter of 2020 with second quarter of 2020, the decrease can be estimate around - 36 %.
As during previous quarters, the attribution rate of events is very low. This means that most of the ongoing attacks are not attributable.
According to the attribution found in the MISP records, the following groups were particularly active during this quarter:
APT41 is a prolific cyber threat group that carries out Chinese state-sponsored espionage activity in addition to financially motivated activity potentially outside of state control;
Gamaredon Group, also referred to as Primitive Bear, is active since at least 2013; it has been long associated with pro-Russia activities targeting Ukrainian victims. The group also targets victims worldwide for espionage purposes and is not as stealthy as other major APT actors;
Lazarus group is a North Korean state-sponsored cyber threat group; it uses a wide range of methods depending on the characteristics of the campaigns carried out and the objectives pursued. It mainly aimed at manipulating employees of strategically important companies such as those involved in the military or aerospace industry;
Turla: this group specialised in espionage activities and intelligence gathering motivations, targeting organizations worldwide. It is considered as emanating from Russia;
External transfer pathway and infrastructures
The transfer of the malicious artefacts or payloads is done through a number of different types of technical procedures and infrastructures.
The records related to this period confirmed that the most frequently used strategy is associated with scams that use email or similar approaches to reach potential victims.
Phishing is the most common strategy. In most of these cases, the pathway is a human to human or machine to human infrastructure.
The attribution rates are significantly better than for threat actors, even if still fairly low. Attribution means that it was possible to identify the external transfer pathway for a given event.
Infrastructures represent the type of systems being used for supporting attacks. Some are meant to compromise or help compromise, the targeted system, others are more focused on helping to maintain the foothold in it. Indeed, once access to a system device has been gained, a communication channel is maintained through the use of command and control (C2) infrastructures. The specific mechanisms vary greatly between attacks, but C2 generally consists of one or more covert communication channels between devices in a victim organization and a platform that the attacker controls. These communication channels are supporting the malicious activities. They are used to issue instructions to the compromised devices, download additional malicious payloads, and pipe stolen data back to the cyber-actor.
During this period, there was a clear decrease in the use of C2 infrastructures, while the use of malicious web sites increased significantly.
The monitoring system showed a substantial prevalence of the use of Malware especially associated with IoT systems.
During this quarter, there was an increase in the number of attack events using false websites and downloader tools.
Compared to the other dimensions of the interpretation model, this dimension is confirmed as having the highest attribution rate.
Points of access
The most common access point reported by MISPPRIV users is e-mail, which isn’t too surprising as it’s an effective ingress vector for several types of attacks. It’s often exploiting users’ weaknesses, be they voluntary (negligence) or involuntary lack of knowledge about a specific threat.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the attribution rate is rather low. Most of the attacks ’point of access is not known.
With regard to component and system vulnerabilities, the monitoring system identified the following as the most critical:
Vulnerability in the Oracle Solaris product of Oracle System (Pluggable Authentication Module)
A flaw of the Microsoft Windows Netlogon Remote Protocol
SAP Solution Manager – Authentication check is not properly performed
IBM - the authentication process can by passed
Web browsers (Internet Explorer)
Sophos XG Firewall A SQL injection issue affects devices configured with either the administration (HTTPS) service or the User Portal exposed on the WAN zone. A successful attack may cause remote code execution that exfiltrated usernames and hashed passwords.
Information on the attacked IT target is not sufficiently described by the analysed events.
Type of Impact
The attribution rate for this dimension is very low and not sufficiently described.
Information on the type of consequences for the victim is mainly related to ransom demands.
Type of Victim
During this period there has been an increase of attacks on airlines.
Attacks on banks and Governments are in evidence as well.