Latest APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) trends – Kaspersky

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In the latest report from Kaspersky on Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) trends for the second quarter of 2023, researchers analyze the development of new and existing campaigns. The report highlights APT activity during this period, including updating toolsets, creating new malware variants, and adopting fresh techniques by threat actors. 

A significant new revelation was the exposure of the long-running “Operation Triangulation” campaign involving the use of a previously unknown iOS malware platform. Experts also observed other interesting developments that they believe everyone should be aware of. Here are key highlights from the report: 

Asia-Pacific witnesses a new threat actor – Mysterious Elephant 

Kaspersky uncovered a new threat actor belonging to the Elephants family, operating in the Asia-Pacific region, dubbed “Mysterious Elephant”. In their latest campaign, the threat actor employed new backdoor families capable of executing files and commands on the victim’s computer and receiving files or commands from a malicious server for execution on the infected system. While Kaspersky researchers have observed overlaps with Confucius and SideWinder, Mysterious Elephant possesses a distinctive and unique set of TTPs, setting them apart from these other groups. 

Toolsets upgraded: Lazarus’ develops new malware variant, BlueNoroff attacks macOS, and more

Threat actors are constantly improving their techniques, with Lazarus upgrading its MATA framework and introducing a new variant of the sophisticated MATA malware family, MATAv5. BlueNoroff, a financial attack-focused subgroup of Lazarus, now employs new delivery methods and programming languages, including the use of Trojanized PDF readers in recent campaigns, the implementation of macOS malware, and the Rust programming language. Additionally, ScarCruft APT group has developed new infection methods, evading Mark-of-the-Web (MOTW) security mechanism. The ever-evolving tactics of these threat actors present new challenges for cybersecurity professionals. 

Geopolitical influences remain primary drivers of APTs

APT campaigns remain geographically dispersed, with actors concentrating their attacks on regions such as Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and various parts of Asia. Cyber espionage, with a solid geopolitical backdrop, continues to be a dominant agenda for these endeavours. 

Adrian Hia, Managing Director for APAC at Kaspersky said “Kaspersky has been monitoring all the active APT actors in the region that infect mobile devices and are slowly targeting businesses and infrastructure. Our researchers focus on APT activities to uncover the most sophisticated cyber-attacks.” 

“While some threat actors stick to familiar tactics like social engineering, others have evolved, refreshing their toolsets and expanding their activities. Moreover, new advanced actors, such as those conducting the ‘Operation Triangulation’ campaign, constantly emerge. This actor uses a previously unknown iOS malware platform distributed through zero-click iMessage exploits.”

Staying vigilant

“Staying vigilant with threat intelligence and the right defense tools is crucial for global companies to protect themselves against both existing and emerging threats. Our quarterly reviews are designed to highlight the most significant developments among APT groups to help defenders combat and mitigate related risks,” comments David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT).

To read the full APT Q2 2023 trends report, please visit Securelist

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