Technology US Cyber Command, DHS, and FBI expose new North Korean malware
N. Korea warns U.S. could 'pay dearly' for human rights criticism - KCNA
NORTHKOREA-USA/RIGHTS (URGENT):N.Korea warns U.S. could 'pay dearly' for human rights criticism - KCNAThe KCNA statement, attributed to a foreign ministry spokesperson, warned that if the United States tried to take issue with the North's system of government by citing human rights problems, it would "pay dearly".
US Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations have exposed today a new North Korean hacking operation.
Authorities have published security advisories detailing six new malware families that are currnetly being used by North Korean hackers.
According to the Twitter account of the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), a subordinate unit of US Cyber Command, the malware is being distributed via a North Korean phishing campaign.
U.S. flies four spy planes over North Korea amid Christmas threat: report
The United States flew four surveillance planes over the Korean peninsula Wednesday, according to an aviation tracker, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.The move comes after North Korea threatened to give Washington a "Christmas gift" unless the U.S. makes concessions in nuclear talks with the country. Negotiations between U.S. and North Korean officials stalled earlier this year after a summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly. The U.S. flew four aircraft, the RC-135W Rivet Joint, E-8C, RQ-4 Global Hawk and RC-135S Cobra Ball, over the country between Tuesday and early Wednesday.
US Cyber Command believes the malware is used to provide North Korean hackers with remote access to infected systems in order to steal funds that are later transfered back to North Korea, as a way to avoid economical sanctions.
The North Korean government has a long history of using hackers to steal funds from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges in order to evade economic sanctions and raise funds for its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
In September 2019, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on the Pyongyang regime.
Six new North Korean malware families
Along with the Twitter alert sent by US Cyber Command, the DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also published today detailed reports on its website.
Phones from US government came packed with Chinese malware
Malwarebytes has discovered that the UMX U686CL provided through the Lifeline Assistance program came with malware pre-installed.The security firm received several complaints from users that the pre-installed apps on their phones were malicious, so Malwarebytes purchased the Android-based phone in question, the UMX U686CL, and was able to verify these claims. The smartphone is sold by Assurance Wireless which is owned by Virgin Mobile USA.
The reports provide an in-depth analysis on the six new malware samples US authorities have been recently tracking. They are:
- - described as "a full-featured RAT"
- - described as a malware dropper (loader)
- - described as a "32-bit Windows executable, which is designed to unpack and execute a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) binary in memory."
- - described as a "a full-featured beaconing implant" used for "conducting system surveys, file upload/download, process and command execution, and performing screen captures."
- - described as "an implant that performs downloading and in-memory loading and execution of a DLL from a hardcoded URL."
- - described as "a full-featured beaconing implant" that can "download, upload, delete, and execute files; enable Windows CLI access; create and terminate processes; and perform target system enumeration."
Aupdates information on HOPLIGHT, a proxy-based backdoor trojan the DHS and FBI .
North Korea confirms former defense commander is new foreign minister
North Korea confirms former defense commander is new foreign ministerThe official KCNA news agency reported Ri, the latest military official to be promoted under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, gave a speech as minister at a New Year dinner reception hosted by the ministry on Thursday for embassies and international organizations.
CISA attributes malware to Lazarus Group
CISA attributed the malware to a North Korean government-backed hacking group known as HIDDEN COBRA.
This group, also known under the name of the Lazars Group, is North Korea's largest and most active hacking division.
Previously,for their involvement in several security incidents, including the Sony 2014 hack, the attack on the Bangladesh bank in 2016, and for orchestrating the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May 2017.
In a screenshot shared with ZDNet, a member of Kaspersky GReAT, Kaspersky's elite hacker-hunting unit, pointed out that the malware samples also shared code with other North Korean malware strains used in past ooperations -- effectively confirming the CISA/FBI/Cyber Command attribution.
Continuing naming-and-shaming approach
Today's revelations mark just another step in the US government's new approach to handling foreign cyber-security operations conducted against US targets.
While in previous years the US government has avoided saying anything about attacks against government entities and the private sector, they recently adopted a "name-and-shame" approach.
Kim Jong Un’s Aunt Appears in Public for First Time in Six Years
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, appeared in state media on Sunday, the first time she has been seen in public since her husband Jang Song Thaek was executed in 2013. © Bloomberg Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, prepares for his departure to North Korea at the railway station in Vladivostok, Russia, on Friday, April 26, 2019. Kim said the summit will be a “starting point for productive talks on cooperation,” Vesti TV reported him as saying in an interview. The 73-year-old sat two seats away from her nephew, according to a photo by Korean Central News Agency.
Previously, this included security alerts on the DHS/CISA websites and legal cases filed by the Department of Justice, but this recently expanded to the use of Tresury Department sanctions and White House press releases calling out foreign orchestrated cyber-attacks.
In November 2018, the name-and-shame approach also added a new tactic when US Cyber Command began uploading "unclassified malware samples" to VirusTotal, and announced uploads via a Twitter account.
Initial samples were linked toand hacking groups.
Subsequently, US Cyber Command also began uploading malware samples related to North Korean hacking activity -- in, , and .
However, in neither of all previous cases has US Cyber Command ever attributed any malware samples to a state actor, leaving the attrbution to experts from private cyber-security firms.
As Cyberscoop pointed out today,that US Cyber Command has publicly linked one of these malware samples to a nation-state actor itself, rather than relying on the privat sector.
Private sector urged to action
But the purpose of today's security advisories was to raise awareness about ongoing North Korean hacking campaigns.
The six+one CISA security advisories include indicators of compromise (IOCs) and YARA rules to help companies and government organizations search internal networks for any signs of North Korean malware.
According to Cyberscoop, US officials have also sent private security alerts to the US private sector before today's public disclosure, urging companies to look into the current threat.
The scale of the current North Korean attacks against US targets is unknown, but judging by the three similar exposés from last year, it is believed that North Korean attacks are coming in a constant wave.
Since 2018,. The agency previously released reports on WannaCry, DeltaCharlie (two reports), Volgmer, FALLCHILL, BANKSHOT, BADCALL, HARDRAIN, SHARPKNOT, an unnamed remtoe access trojan/worm, Joanap and Brambul, TYPEFRAME, KEYMARBLE, FASTCash (two reports), and the older HOPLIGHT report.
In January 2019, the DOJ, FBI, and US Air Force also intervened to take down the Joanap botnet, believed to have been built by North Korean hackers to aid in their operations and to serve as a network of proxies to disguise the origin of their attacks.
US Cyber Command, DHS, and FBI expose new North Korean malware .
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