Security researchers have discovered a new phishing campaign targeting engineering job candidates and employees in classified engineering roles within the US and Europe.
According to a blog post by researchers at AT&T Cybersecurity, the activity has been attributed to the Lazarus hacking group and has been active over the last few months.
Researchers said that several documents were identified by Twitter users between May to June 2021 as being linked to the Lazarus group. Documents observed in previous campaigns lured victims with job opportunities for Boeing and BAE systems.
These documents attempted to impersonate new defense contractors and engineering companies like Airbus, General Motors (GM), and Rheinmetall. All of these documents contain macro malware, which has been developed and improved during the course of this campaign and from one target to another, according to the researchers.
“The core techniques for the three malicious documents are the same, but the attackers attempted to reduce the potential detections and increase the faculties of the macros,” they said.
The first two documents from early May 2021 were related to a German Engineering company focused on the defense and automotive industries, Rheinmetall. A second malicious document appears to include more elaborate content, which may have resulted in the documents going unnoticed by victims.
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After the Rheinmetall document was observed, a similar document emerged targeting General Motors. The characteristics of this were very similar to the previous one, but with minor updates in the C&C communication process, according to researchers.
In early June, a month after the first document of this campaign was observed, a new one was identified targeting Airbus. This time, the C&C communications were very similar to the previous iteration of the document; however, the execution and injection processes were different.
Researchers said that this new activity was in line with the Lazarus’ past campaigns and is not expected to be the last.
“Attack lures, potentially targeting engineering professionals in government organizations, showcase the importance of tracking Lazarus and their evolution," they said.
"We continue to see Lazarus using the same tactic, techniques, and procedures that we have observed in the past, such as using Microsoft Office documents that download remote templates, Microsoft Office Macros, and compromised third party infrastructure to host the payloads and proxy C&C traffic through."
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Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.