Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

August 18 – Dark Reading: Pakistan The Latest Cyberspying Nation

August 18, 2014

By: Kelly Jackson Higgins

A look at Operation Arachnophobia, a suspected cyber espionage campaign against India.

A recently unearthed targeted attack campaign suggests that Pakistan is evolving from hacktivism to cyber espionage.

Operation Arachnophobia, a campaign that appears to have begun in early 2013, has all the earmarks of classic advanced persistent threat/cyber espionage activity but with a few twists of its own — including the possible involvement of a Pakistani security firm.

Researchers from FireEye and ThreatConnect recently teamed up in their investigation of the attacks, which feature a custom malware family dubbed Bitterbug that serves as the backdoor for siphoning stolen information. Though the researchers say they have not identified the specific victim organizations, they have spotted malware bundled with decoy documents related to Indian issues.

The Bitterbug malware is geared for cyber espionage purposes and was hidden behind pilfered US infrastructure as a way to hide its origins. Specifically, the attacks employ infrastructure from a US virtual private server. The Pakistani hosting provider appears to have leased its command and control infrastructure from a US VPS provider. “It’s where the malware is hosted and used for command and control,” says Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer at ThreatConnect. The goal was to make the attacks appear to come from the US.

Operation Arachnophobia may well be Pakistan’s answer to cyber espionage campaigns against its nation that appear to have come from India. “It was engineered to collect standard Office documents on your desktop,” Barger says. “It was very close to Operation Hangover activity… for which India was purportedly responsible.”

Cyber espionage appears to be on the upswing in the region. Iran recently moved from a defacement-happy operation in the name of political hacktivism to cyberspying campaigns such as the so-called Operation Saffron Rosetargeting US defense contractors and Iranian dissidents.

“We know about Russia and China… India and Pakistan has room to grow and mature,” Barger says.

Operation Arachnophobia was named after the Pakistani security firm Tranchulas, whose name appeared in some of the malware samples studied by FireEye researchers. “The ‘Tranchulas’ name was in a string” of the malware, says Mike Oppenheim, principal threat intelligence analyst at FireEye. Tranchulas was supposedly a security company that does penetration testing. The researchers say it supports “national level cyber security programs” and the development of “offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.”

The researchers found major discrepancies in emails between them and Tranchulas and the Pakistani hosting provider, which led them to dig further. That’s where they discovered the hosting provider had been subleasing insfrastructure from US providers, and both Tranchulas and the Pakistani hosting provider have employed or have connections with people with “cyber offensive expertise.”

According to the researchers, since they published a whitepaper on their findings this month, the operation appears to have come to standstill for now.

The full report is available here (registration required).

Read the full article at: http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/pakistan-the-latest-cyberspying-nation/d/d-id/1298109?

The post August 18 – Dark Reading: Pakistan The Latest Cyberspying Nation appeared first on ThreatConnect - Threat Intelligence.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Adam Vincent

Adam is an internationally renowned information security expert and is currently the CEO and a founder at Cyber Squared Inc. He possesses over a decade of experience in programming, network security, penetration testing, cryptography design & cryptanalysis, identity and access control, and a detailed expertise in information security. The culmination of this knowledge has led to the company’s creation of ThreatConnect™, the first-of-its-kind threat intelligence platform. He currently serves as an advisor to multiple security-focused organizations and has provided consultation to numerous businesses ranging from start-ups to governments, Fortune 500 organizations, and top financial institutions. Adam holds an MS in computer science with graduate certifications in computer security and information assurance from George Washington University. Vincent lives in Arlington, VA with his wife, two children, and dog.

Latest Stories
"We were founded in 2003 and the way we were founded was about good backup and good disaster recovery for our clients, and for the last 20 years we've been pretty consistent with that," noted Marc Malafronte, Territory Manager at StorageCraft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
FinTechs use the cloud to operate at the speed and scale of digital financial activity, but are often hindered by the complexity of managing security and compliance in the cloud. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sesh Murthy, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Raxak, showed how proactive and automated cloud security enables FinTechs to leverage the cloud to achieve their business goals. Through business-driven cloud security, FinTechs can speed time-to-market, diminish risk and costs, maintain continu...
"DivvyCloud as a company set out to help customers automate solutions to the most common cloud problems," noted Jeremy Snyder, VP of Business Development at DivvyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, presented an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He then expounded on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and ...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"DX encompasses the continuing technology revolution, and is addressing society's most important issues throughout the entire $78 trillion 21st-century global economy," said Roger Strukhoff, Conference Chair. "DX World Expo has organized these issues along 10 tracks with more than 150 of the world's top speakers coming to Istanbul to help change the world."
"We focus on SAP workloads because they are among the most powerful but somewhat challenging workloads out there to take into public cloud," explained Swen Conrad, CEO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We provide IoT solutions. We provide the most compatible solutions for many applications. Our solutions are industry agnostic and also protocol agnostic," explained Richard Han, Head of Sales and Marketing and Engineering at Systena America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...