2020 Press Releases

August 28, 2020

DPRK-aligned Threat Actor Targeting Cryptocurrency Vertical

Cyber security provider, F-Secure, published a report linking an attack against an organisation working in the cryptocurrency vertical to Lazarus Group – a highly-skilled, financially-motivated threat actor whose interests reportedly align with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). By connecting evidence obtained from the attack with existing research, the report concludes the incident was part of a Lazarus Group campaign targeting organisations in the cryptocurrency vertical in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Singapore, Japan, and other countries.
The tactical intelligence report provides an analysis of samples, logs, and other technical artifacts recovered by F-Secure during an incident response investigation at an organisation working in the cryptocurrency vertical. The malicious implants used in the attack were nearly identical to tools reportedly used previously by Lazarus Group – also known as APT38 according to the report.
The report identifies the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) used during the attack, such as spearphishing via a service (in this case, using LinkedIn to send a fake job offer tailored to the recipient’s profile). The research provides a solid foundation for the report’s actionable security advice according to F-Secure Director of Detection and Response Matt Lawrence.
“Our research, which included insights from our incident response, managed detection and response, and tactical defence units, found that this attack bears a number of similarities with known Lazarus Group activity, so we’re confident they were behind the incident,” said Lawrence. “The evidence also suggests this is part of an ongoing campaign targeting organisations in over a dozen countries, which makes the attribution important. Companies can use the report to familiarise themselves with this incident, the TTPs, and Lazarus Group in general, to help protect themselves from future attacks.”
Based on phishing artifacts recovered from Lazarus Group’s attack, F-Secure’s researchers were able to link the incident to a wider, ongoing campaign that’s been running since at least January 2018. According to the report, similar artifacts have been used in campaigns in at least 14 countries: the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Argentina, Singapore, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Estonia, Japan, and the Philippines.
Lazarus Group invested significant effort to evade the target organisation’s defences during the attack, such as by disabling anti-virus software on the compromised hosts, and removing evidence of their malicious implants. And while the report describes the attack as sophisticated, it points out Lazarus Group’s efforts to hide their presence were not enough to prevent F-Secure’s investigation from recovering evidence of their activities.