Sep 24, 2013, 12:00 pm EST

Security experts at FireEye discovered the Operation DeputyDog against Japanese entities that exploits Zero-Day (CVE-2013-3893) recently announced by Microsoft.

FireEye announced the discovery of the cyberespionage Operation DeputyDog leveraging the recently announced zero-day CVE-2013-3893. FireEye and Kaspersky are the companies most active in the analysis of large espionage campaign that governments and hackers are conducting against strategic targets.

According the analysis based on FireEye Dynamic Threat Intelligence cluster the Operation DeputyDog began as early as August 19, 2013 targeting Japanese organizations. Security experts found that attackers have used the same command and control infrastructure of the attack on Bit9 firm.

Fire eye

Bit9 experts discovered that hackers penetrated their network infecting machine with two variants of the HiKit rootkit.

“One of these Hitkit samples connected to a command and control server at downloadmp3server[.]servemp3[.]com that resolved to 66.153.86.14. This same IP address also hosted www[.]yahooeast[.]net, a known malicious domain, between March 6, 2012 and April 22, 2012. The domain yahooeast[.]net was registered to 654@123.com. This email address was also used to register blankchair[.]com – the domain that we see was pointed to the 180.150.228.102 IP, which is the callback associated with sample 58dc05118ef8b11dcb5f5c596ab772fd, and has been already correlated back to the attack leveraging the CVE-2013-3893 zero-day vulnerability.”

Just a couple of days ago, on September 17, 2013 Microsoft announced a new zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer products that was being exploited in targeted attacks.

FireEye investigated on the attacks revealing that they targeted organizations in Japan, according evidences collected behind the Operation DeputyDog there is the same threat actor that compromised Bit9 in February 2013, when during the hack were stolen digital certificates used later in further attacks to sign malware. The payload used in these attacks on August 23th 2013 against entities in Japan was hosted on a server in Hong Kong with IP address equal to 210.176.3.130. Despite the payload is named img20130823.jpg in reality it is  an executable, once run it writes a dll named “28542CC0.dll” in the following path:

C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication Data28542CC0.dll

To be able to execute the malware on every machine restarts the malicious agent also adds this registry key:

HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun28542CC0 rundll32.exe “C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication Data28542CC0.dll”, Launch

The malware connects to a host in South Korea (180.150.228.102), it is curious that callback traffic is not encrypted HTTP over port 443.  The FireEye security experts identified the signature for the attacks that allowed the detection of at least 5 samples that were compiled on 2013-08-19, within 1 second of each other.

MD5Compile Time (UTC)C2 Server
58dc05118ef8b11dcb5f5c596ab772fd2013-08-19 13:21:58180.150.228.102
4d257e569539973ab0bbafee8fb875822013-08-19 13:21:58103.17.117.90
dbdb1032d7bb4757d6011fb1d077856c2013-08-19 13:21:59110.45.158.5
645e29b7c6319295ae8b13ce8575dc1d2013-08-19 13:21:59103.17.117.90
e9c73997694a897d3c6aadb26ed347972013-04-13 13:42:45110.45.158.

The malicious domains identified are:

DomainFirst SeenLast Seen
ea.blankchair.com2013-09-01 05:02:222013-09-01 08:25:22
rt.blankchair.com2013-09-01 05:02:212013-09-01 08:25:24
ali.blankchair.com2013-09-01 05:02:202013-09-01 08:25:22
dll.freshdns.org2013-07-01 10:48:562013-07-09 05:00:03

Campaigns such as the Operation DeputyDog are the demonstration that groups of persistent collectors are very active and use sophisticated techniques for their attacks. The hackers exploited the knowledge of a zero-day during last attacks, circumstance that lets me think of the responsibility of state-sponsored hackers. Governments are primary entities that exploit zero-day flaws during their attack, cybercrime ecosystem in fact is more oriented in the sale of these exploits instead to use it for illegal activities. If you are interested to go deep in the technical analysis of the ATP read the following post published by FireEye.

(Source: CDM, Pierluigi Paganini, Editor and Chief )