N. Korean Lazarus Group Targets Microsoft IIS Servers to Deploy Espionage Malware

Could 24, 2023Ravie LakshmananCyber Espionage / Server Safety

The notorious Lazarus Group actor has been focusing on weak variations of Microsoft Web Data Providers (IIS) servers as an preliminary breach path to deploy malware on focused methods.

The findings come from the AhnLab Safety Emergency response Heart (ASEC), which detailed the superior persistent menace’s (APT) continued abuse of DLL side-loading methods to deploy malware.

“The menace actor locations a malicious DLL (msvcr100.dll) in the identical folder path as a standard software (Wordconv.exe) through the Home windows IIS internet server course of, w3wp.exe,” ASEC explained. “They then execute the conventional software to provoke the execution of the malicious DLL.”

DLL side-loading, much like DLL search-order hijacking, refers back to the proxy execution of a rogue DLL through a benign binary planted in the identical listing.

Lazarus, a highly-capable and relentless nation-state group linked to North Korea, was most lately noticed leveraging the identical method in reference to the cascading provide chain assault on enterprise communications service supplier 3CX.

The malicious msvcr100.dll library, for its half, is designed to decrypt an encoded payload that is then executed in reminiscence. The malware is claimed to be a variant of the same artifact that was discovered by ASEC final yr and which acted as a backdoor to speak with an actor-controlled server.

The assault chain additional entailed the exploitation of a discontinued open supply Notepad++ plugin referred to as Quick Color Picker to ship further malware as a way to facilitate credential theft and lateral motion.

The most recent improvement demonstrates the range of Lazarus assaults and its skill to make use of an intensive set of instruments towards victims to hold out long-term espionage operations.

“Particularly, because the menace group primarily makes use of the DLL side-loading method throughout their preliminary infiltrations, firms ought to proactively monitor irregular course of execution relationships and take preemptive measures to forestall the menace group from finishing up actions similar to info exfiltration and lateral motion,” ASEC stated.

U.S. Treasury Sanctions North Korean Entities

The findings additionally come because the U.S. Treasury Division sanctioned 4 entities and one particular person concerned in malicious cyber actions and fundraising schemes that goal to help North Korea’s strategic priorities.


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This contains the Pyongyang College of Automation, the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau and its subordinate cyber unit, the one hundred and tenth Analysis Heart, Chinyong Data Expertise Cooperation Firm, and a North Korean nationwide named Kim Sang Man.

The Lazarus Group and its numerous clusters are believed to be operated by the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, which oversees North Korea’s improvement of offensive cyber ways and instruments.

The sanctions-hit nation, in addition to partaking in crypto foreign money theft and espionage operations, is understood to generate illicit income from a workforce of expert IT staff who pose under fictitious identities to acquire jobs within the know-how and digital foreign money sectors the world over.

“The DPRK conducts malicious cyber actions and deploys info know-how (IT) staff who fraudulently receive employment to generate income, together with in digital foreign money, to help the Kim regime and its priorities, similar to its illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile packages,” the division said.

“These staff intentionally obfuscate their identities, areas, and nationalities, sometimes utilizing pretend personas, proxy accounts, stolen identities, and falsified or cast documentation to use for jobs at these firms.”

“They earn a whole lot of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} a yr by partaking in a variety of IT improvement work, together with freelance work platforms (web sites/functions) and cryptocurrency improvement, after acquiring freelance employment contracts from firms all over the world,” the South Korean authorities warned in December 2022.

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