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APT10 (MenuPass Group) is a Chinese cyber espionage group that
FireEye has tracked since 2009. They have historically targeted
construction and engineering, aerospace, and telecom firms, and
governments in the United States, Europe, and Japan. We believe that
the targeting of these industries has been in support of Chinese
national security goals, including acquiring valuable military and
intelligence information as well as the theft of confidential business
data to support Chinese corporations. PwC and BAE recently issued a joint
blog detailing extensive APT10 activity.
In June 2016, FireEye iSIGHT intelligence first reported that APT10
expanded their operations. The group was initially detected targeting
a Japanese university, and more widespread targeting in Japan was
subsequently uncovered. Further collaboration between FireEye as a
Service (FaaS), Mandiant and FireEye iSIGHT intelligence uncovered
additional victims worldwide, a new suite of tools and novel techniques.
Global Targeting Using New Tools
Leveraging its global footprint, FireEye has detected APT10 activity
across six continents in 2016 and 2017. APT10 has targeted or
compromised manufacturing companies in India, Japan and Northern
Europe; a mining company in South America; and multiple IT service
providers worldwide. We believe these companies are a mix of final
targets and organizations that could provide a foothold in a final target.
APT10 unveiled new tools in its 2016/2017 activity. In addition to
the continued use of SOGU, the current wave of intrusions has involved
new tools we believe are unique to APT10. HAYMAKER and SNUGRIDE have
been used as first stage backdoors, while BUGJUICE and a customized
version of the open source QUASARRAT have been used as second stage
backdoors. These new pieces of malware show that APT10 is devoting
resources to capability development and innovation.
- HAYMAKER is a backdoor that can download and execute
additional payloads in the form of modules. It also conducts basic
victim profiling activity, collecting the computer name, running
process IDs, %TEMP% directory path and version of Internet Explorer.
It communicates encoded system information to a single hard coded
command and control (C2) server, using the system’s default
- BUGJUICE is a backdoor that is executed
by launching a benign file and then hijacking
the search order to load a malicious dll into it. That
malicious dll then loads encrypted shellcode from the binary, which
is decrypted and runs the final BUGJUICE payload. BUGJUICE defaults
to TCP using a custom binary protocol to communicate with the C2,
but can also use HTTP and HTTPs if directed by the C2. It has the
capability to find files, enumerate drives, exfiltrate data, take
screenshots and provide a reverse shell.
- SNUGRIDE is a
backdoor that communicates with its C2 server through HTTP requests.
Messages are encrypted using AES with a static key. The malware’s
capabilities include taking a system survey, access to the
filesystem, executing commands and a reverse shell. Persistence is
maintained through a Run registry key.
- QUASARRAT is an
open-source RAT available here. The versions
used by APT10 (184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, and 18.104.22.168) are not available via
the public GitHub page, indicating that APT10 has further customized
the open source version. The 2.0 versions require a dropper to
decipher and launch the AES encrypted QUASARRAT payload. QUASARRAT
is a fully functional .NET backdoor that has been used by multiple
cyber espionage groups in the past.
Traditional and Novel Methods
This recent APT10 activity has included both traditional spear
phishing and access to victim’s networks through service providers.
(For more information on infection via service providers see M-Trends
2016). APT10 spear phishes have been relatively unsophisticated,
leveraging .lnk files within archives, files with double extensions
(e.g. “[Redacted]_Group_Meeting_Document_20170222_doc_.exe) and in
some cases simply identically named decoy documents and malicious
launchers within the same archive.
In addition to the spear phishes, FireEye ISIGHT Intelligence has
observed APT10 accessing victims through global service providers.
Service providers have significant access to customer networks,
enabling an attacker who had compromised a service provider to move
laterally into the network of the service provider’s customer. In
addition, web traffic between a service provider’s customer and a
service provider is likely to be viewed as benign by network defenders
at the customer, allowing the attacker to exfiltrate data stealthily.
A notable instance of this observed by FireEye involved a SOGU
backdoor that was set to communicate with its C2 through a server
belonging to the victim’s service provider.
APT10 actors issued the following commands to a SOGU implant at a victim:
- sc create CorWrTool binPath=
start= auto displayname= “Corel Writing Tools Utility”
- sc description CorWrTool “Corel Graphics
- ping -a [Redacted]
- psexec.exe <orghost> d.exe
- net view
- proxyconnect – “port”: 3389,
“server”: “[IP Address Redacted]”
These commands included setting persistence on the victim’s system.
The actor then tested connectivity to an IP managed by the victim’s
service provider. Once connectivity to the service provider IP was
verified, the actor established the service provider IP as a proxy for
the victim’s SOGU backdoor. This effectively routes SOGU malware
traffic through the victim’s service provider, which likely indicates
a foothold on the service provider’s network. The tactic also serves
to mask malicious C2 and exfiltration traffic and make it appear innocuous.
APT10 is a threat to organizations worldwide. Their abuse of access
to service provider networks demonstrates that peripheral
organizations continue to be of interest to a malicious actor –
especially those seeking alternative angles of attack. We believe the
pace of APT10 operations may slow following the public disclosure by
blog; however, we believe they will return to their large-scale
operations, potentially employing new tactics, techniques and procedures.
At L Technology Group, we know technology alone will not protect us from the risks associated with in cyberspace. Hackers, Nation States like Russia and China along with “Bob” in HR opening that email, are all real threats to your organization. Defending against these threats requires a new strategy that incorporates not only technology, but also intelligent personnel who, eats and breaths cybersecurity. Together with proven processes and techniques combines for an advanced next-generation security solution. Since 2008 L Technology Group has develop people, processes and technology to combat the ever changing threat landscape that businesses face day to day.
Call Toll Free (855) 999-6425 for a FREE Consultation from L Technology Group, https://www.ltechnologygroup.com.