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Cyber Threat ‘Sharpshooter’ Targets Energy, Defense Firms

A new global cyber threat campaign has recently infiltrated dozens of energy, defense, nuclear, and financial companies around the world, using malware to extract and exploit data from these organizations in a campaign McAfee has dubbed ‘Operation Sharpshooter’.

The McAfee Advanced Threat Research team and McAfee Labs Malware Operations Group say that they have discovered that this new global campaign uses an in-memory implant to download and retrieve a second-stage implant—which McAfee calls Rising Sun—for further exploitation.

This campaign appeared in 87 organizations—mostly in the United States—in October and November this year. The malware links were posing as industry job recruitment activity, gathering information to monitor for possible future exploitation, according to McAfee.

“This actor has used recruiting as a lure to collect information about targeted individuals of interest or organizations that manage data related to the industries of interest,” the McAfee report says.

The new malware campaign uses source code from a 2015 backdoor Trojan Duuzer malware campaign by Lazarus Group in a new framework to infiltrate these key industries.

Notorious cyber crime group Lazarus Group has been linked to last year’s WannaCry ransomware attacks and to cyber attacks at Sony Pictures and Bangladesh Bank.

“Operation Sharpshooter’s numerous technical links to the Lazarus Group seem too obvious to immediately draw the conclusion that they are responsible for the attacks, and instead indicate a potential for false flags,” said McAfee about the global cyber spy campaign it had discovered.

“We have not previously observed this implant. Based on our telemetry, we discovered that multiple victims from different industry sectors around the world have reported these indicators,” McAfee said.

“Was this attack just a first-stage reconnaissance operation, or will there be more? We will continue to monitor this campaign and will report further when we or others in the security industry receive more information.”

 

 

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