Home Security New phishing campaign targets bitcoin users, global banks

New phishing campaign targets bitcoin users, global banks

A bitcoin-stealing phishing campaign has been launched by the international cyber crime group Lazarus, the security firm McAfee claims. It is aimed at Windows machines.

The company's Advanced Threat Research analysts said the campaign, dubbed HaoBao, used sophisticated malware which had a long-term impact.

Researcher Ryan Sherstobitoff said in a blog post that HaoBao used phishing emails, as other Lazarus campaigns had done in the past, but the targets now were bitcoin users and international financial firms.

When malicious documents attached to the emails sent to would-be victims were opened, the malware scanned for bitcoin activity and then established an implant for long-term data-gathering, Sherstobitoff said.

The Lazarus group had targeted individuals with spear phishing emails impersonating job recruiters which contained malicious documents in 2017.

"The campaign lasted from April to October and used job descriptions relevant to target organisations, in both English and Korean," Sherstobitoff said.

"The objective was to gain access to the target’s environment and obtain key military programme insight or steal money. The 2017 campaign targets ranged from defence contractors to financial institutions, including cryptocurrency exchanges. However, much of this fake job recruitment activity ceased months later, with the last activity observed on 22 October 2017."

The new campaign was sighted on 15 January, when a malicious document disguised as a job recruitment letter for a business development executive located in Hong Kong for a large multi-national bank was spotted.

"Victims are persuaded to enable content through a notification claiming the document was created in an earlier version of Microsoft Word," Sherstobitoff said. "The malicious documents then launch an implant on the victim’s system via a Visual Basic macro."

The ATR analysts also observed increased usage of limited data gathering modules to quickly identify targets for further attacks, with the campaign tailored to identify those who are running bitcoin-related software through specific system scans.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.