“Operation Dust Storm” Research

Hello everybody !

New Security Research from Cylance SPEAR™ Team Uncovers Multi-Year, Multi-Attack Campaign Targeting Japanese Critical Infrastructure.

Cylance SPEAR™ team, the security research arm of Cylance, recently released a report titled “Operation Dust Storm,” which reveals a multi-year, multi-attack campaign against Japanese commercial interests and critical infrastructure. This research states the stability of the threat group that is likely associated with a nation/state, and how it has used numberous attack vectors and techniques to breach companies into electric utilities, oil and gas, finance, transportation and construction.

Jon Miller, vice president of strategy, Cylance said “Since 2010, a threat group with considerable resources has been using various exploits to attack commercial interests around the globe, with a specific focus on Japan…Whereas early activity by the group showed less sophistication and a broader set of targets, SPEAR’s current research indicates the group’s present focus has shifted specifically and exclusively to Japanese companies or Japanese subdivisions of larger foreign organizations. The group has also shown an ability to exploit Android-based mobile devices, illustrating that these types of attacks are more prevalent in the mobile-centric business cultures in Asia. The campaign continues to this day.”

Specific findings of Operation Dust Storm include:

  • Exclusive Focus on Japan in Later Stages: Recent activity has shown an exclusive focus on Japanese companies or Japanese divisions of larger organizations not headquartered in Japan.
  • Sustained Attack Campaigns: The campaign spans more than five years of persistent, multiple cyber attacks against companies in Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Europe.
  • Long-term Purpose: After evaluating the malware at the first stages of attack on the hacked networks and systems, the SPEAR team found evidence showing that the prime motives are long-term data exfiltration and theft.
  • Variety of Critical Infrastructure Targets: Critical infrastructure targets include electric utilities, oil and gas, finance, transportation and construction.
  • Increasing Focus on Japanese Commercial and Energy Interests: The campaign is most likely being directed by a nation/state attack group growing in sophistication and focus, who are specifically targeting Japanese companies or Japanese subsidiaries of multinational corporations.
  • Continuous, Undocumented Threats: Last year SPEAR discovered two more waves of attacks that started in July 2015 and October 2015. One of the primary targets was a Japanese subsidiary of a South Korean electric utility.
  • Wide Range of Attack Types and Vectors: Attacks have employed spear phishing, waterholes, unique backdoors and unique zero-day variants, among others, to breach corporate networks and Android-based mobile devices.
  • Targeted Corporate Attacks: The campaign has made use of malware that is customized for particular target organizations; one 2015 attack involved the use of an S-Type backdoor variant designed specifically to compromise the investment arm of a major Japanese automaker.

The full Operation Dust Storm report can be downloaded here: https://www.cylance.com/operation-dust-storm

Source: Akati

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