The Gamaredon Group is back with new weapons in its arsenal

The Russian state-actor dubbed Gamaredon is back and has been using a custom-developed malware in a new cyber espionage campaign.

According to the experts from Palo Alto Networks, a Russian state-actor dubbed Gamaredon has been using a custom-developed malware in cyber espionage campaign on the Ukrainian government, military and law enforcement officials.

The Gamaredon APT was first spotted in 2013, last year researchers at LookingGlass have shared the details of a cyber espionage campaign, tracked as Operation Armageddon, targeting Ukrainian entities.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) blamed the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) for the cyber attacks. The Gamaredon group leveraged on spear-phishing emails to deliver common remote access tools (RATs), such as UltraVNC and Remote Manipulator System (RMS).

Back to the present, researchers from Palo Alto Networks discovered that threat actors behind the Gamaredon APT group have started using a new, custom-built malware instead of common RATs.

“In the past, the Gamaredon Group has relied heavily on off-the-shelf tools. Our new research shows the Gamaredon Group have made a shift to custom-developed malware.” reads the analysis published by PaloAlto Networks.

Below the main featured implemented in the custom-developed malware:

  • A mechanism for downloading and executing additional payloads of their choice
  • The ability to scan system drives for specific file types
  • The ability to capture screenshots
  • The ability to remotely execute commands on the system in the user’s security context

The new malware appears very sophisticated and it is able to avoid the detection of security solutions

The experts are not sure the latest attacks are also part of the Operation Armageddon or if the threat actors have started a new cyber espionage campaign.

“Antimalware technologies have a poor record of detecting the malware this group has developed. We believe this is likely due to the modular nature of the malware, the malware’s heavy use of batch scripts, and the abuse of legitimate applications and tools (such as wget) for malicious purposes.” reads the analysis published by Palo Alto Networks.

In February 2016, the researchers identified another custom tool, tracked as Pteranodon, that was added in self-extracting archives (SFX) used by the Gamaredon group.

While Gamaredon has started using new malware, it still relies on self-extracting archives (SFX) and much of the same infrastructure as when its activities were first analyzed.

Pierluigi Paganini

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