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Mon, Aug

Roaming Tiger Hackers targets Russian organizations for espionage

Cyber Security

Security researchers from ESET uncovered the Roaming Tiger hacking campaign, bad actors in the wild are targeting Russian organizations.


Roaming Tiger is the name of a cyber espionage campaign targeting high profile organizations in Russia and former Soviet Union countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The Roaming Tiger campaign was discovered by experts at ESET in 2014, the researcher Anton Cherepanov presented the findings of their investigation at the 2014 ZeroNights security conference.

According to the experts, the threat actors behind the Roaming Tiger relied on RTF exploits and the PlugX RAT, the analysis of the command and control (C&C) infrastructure suggests the involvement of Chinese hackers.

This summer, experts at Palo Alto Networks uncovered another hacking campaign having many similarities with the Roaming Tiger. The attacks targeted organizations in the same counties, but instead of PlugX, the hackers used a new tool dubbed BBSRAT.

" Based on data collected from Palo Alto Networks AutoFocus threat intelligence, we discovered continued operations of activity very similar to the Roaming Tiger attack campaign that began in the August 2015 timeframe, with a concentration of attacks in late October and continuing into December." states a blog post published by PaloAlto Networks.

At least in one attack, the threat actors used spear phishing emails with a malicious Word document in attachment.

The Word document designed to exploit an old Microsoft Office vulnerability (CVE-2012-0158) to deliver the BBSRAT malware.

This flaw was also exploited in the attacks observed by ESET last year. Curiously the BBSRAT was using the same C&C architecture as in the Roaming Tiger campaign.

The experts at Palo Alto analyzed a malicious message trying to compromise the Vigstar company that specializes in the development of special-purpose wireless devices and satellite communications systems used by Russian defense and many security agencies.

Interestingly, experts pointed out that BBSRAT uses the same C&C domains as in the Roaming Tiger operation detailed by ESET. However, in the recent attacks, it appears the malicious actors deployed different malware variants and separate infrastructure for each of the targeted entities.

Summarizing the characteristics of the Roaming tiger campaign are:

  • High profile victims in Russia
  • Use of RTF vulnerabilities (CVE-2012-0158 and CVE-2014-1761)
  • Win32/Korplug (aka PlugX RAT) • Win32/Farfli.BEK (aka Gh0st RAT)

Once again a threat actor is continuing to run espionage campaigns despite security researchers have discovered their tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) .

"As in many of the previous articles regarding espionage-motivated adversaries and possible nation-state campaigns, what is being observed in this attack campaign is a continued operation and evolution by the adversary even after its tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) have become public knowledge," wrote Palo Alto Networks researchers in a blog post. "Despite the fact that the information about these attackers has been public for over a year, including a listing of many of the command and control servers, they continue to reuse much of their exposed playbook."

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