In an unusual development, the group known for its attacks against companies in countries viewed as geopolitical foes is now going after companies in a country considered an ally, Check Point Software says.
North Korea’s Lazarus Group, known for its sophisticated cyberattacks on organizations in the US, South Korea, Japan, and other countries, has for the first time begun targeting companies in Russia.
Researchers from Check Point Software Technologies uncovered the attacks recently when investigating multiple malicious Office documents that appeared crafted specifically for use against Russian entities. Check Point’s analysis showed that the documents were part of an infection chain designed to drop an updated version of KEYMARBLE, a backdoor associated with the Lazarus Group.
Lotem Finkelshtein, threat intelligence group manager at Check Point, says the company’s researchers observed at least three distinct Lazarus Group attacks targeting Russia in the last week of January. At this point, there isn’t enough information to know whether the attacks were directed at a single company or different entities, he says.
Each of the attacks involved the use of emails with US-themed documents that were designed to trick recipients into triggering macros for downloading malicious code. One of the documents purported to be a nondisclosure agreement for StarForce Technologies, a Russia-based company with offices in the US. Another was designed to appear like a Los Angeles court document.
At the moment, the reasons for the Lazarus Group’s sudden interest in Russian companies are not clear. Many security researchers consider the group to be one of the most active and dangerous threat actors in the world. The group is well-known for its 2014 attack on Sony Pictures in the US; the theft of tens of millions of dollars from the Bank of Bangladesh and other banks; and attacks on several cryptocurrency exchanges in recent years.
Author: Jai Vijayan Freelance writer