“Inception Attackers” Combine Old Exploit and New Backdoor

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“Inception Attackers” Combine Old Exploit and New Backdoor
“Inception Attackers” Combine Old Exploit and New Backdoor

“Inception Attackers” Combine Old Exploit and New Backdoor

A malicious team referred to as the “Inception” attackers has been the usage of a year-old Office exploit and a brand new backdoor in contemporary assaults, Palo Alto Networks safety researchers warn.

Active since a minimum of 2014, the gang has used customized malware and in opposition to goals spanning quite a lot of industries international, with a unique hobby in Russia. 

In October 2018, the danger actor used to be seen hitting quite a lot of European goals in assaults using an exploit for a vulnerability (CVE-2017-11882) that Microsoft patched in November 2017. Furthermore, the hackers had been the usage of a brand new PowerShell backdoor dubbed POWERSHOWER, which printed prime consideration to element on the subject of cleansing up after an infection. 

As a part of the seen assaults, the actor has been the usage of a unmarried malicious file and a far flung template to ship their malicious payload. The use of a template used to be related to the gang prior to, however earlier assaults printed using two paperwork, together with an preliminary spear-phish for reconnaissance. 

Microsoft Word lets in for the loading of templates which might be hosted externally, both on a report percentage, or at the Internet. The template is loaded as quickly because the file is opened and hackers were identified to abuse the characteristic in malicious techniques. 

The Inception attackers were the usage of far flung templates of their campaigns for the previous four years, leveraging the quite a lot of advantages the process supplies, corresponding to the truth that the preliminary file does now not comprise an explicitly malicious object. 

The assault methodology additionally supplies the attacker with the strategy to deploy malicious content material to the sufferer in line with the preliminary information gained from the objective. This additionally helps to keep the malicious code clear of researchers making an attempt to research the assault, if the web hosting server is down. 

The malicious file used within the contemporary assaults shows decoy content material and makes an attempt to fetch the far flung content material over HTTP. In one assault, the malicious template contained exploits for CVE-2012-1856 and CVE-2017-11882.

The payload in those assaults is POWERSHOWER, a easy PowerShell backdoor that acts as an preliminary reconnaissance foothold and additionally helps the obtain and execution of a secondary payload that features a extra whole set of options. 

This additionally guarantees that the extra refined and complicated malware that the attackers would possibly have of their portfolio stays hidden from investigators. POWERSHOWER too can blank up a vital quantity of forensic proof from the dropper procedure (together with information and registry keys).

Related: Office Vulnerabilities Chained to Deliver Backdoor

Related: New “ThreadKit” Office Exploit Builder Emerges

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new side channel vulnerability leaks sensitive data from intel chips - "Inception Attackers" Combine Old Exploit and New Backdoor

Ionut Arghire is a world correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Previous Columns through Ionut Arghire:
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