Chinese cyber-espionage group Moshen Dragon targets Asian telcos

Jean J. Sanders


Scientists have determined a new cluster of destructive cyber action tracked as Moshen Dragon, focusing on telecommunication services providers in Central Asia.

Even though this new menace team has some overlaps with “RedFoxtrot” and “Nomad Panda,” together with the use of ShadowPad and PlugX malware variants, there are more than enough differences in their action to observe them independently.

According to a new report by Sentinel Labs, Moshen Dragon is a qualified hacking team with the skill to regulate its technique dependent on the defenses they are going through.

The hackers have interaction extensively in hoping to sideload malicious Windows DLLs into antivirus solutions, steal credentials to go laterally, and sooner or later exfiltrate knowledge from contaminated machines.

Moshen Dragon's overal operation chain
Moshen Dragon’s overall operation chain (Sentinel Labs)

Assault information

At this time, the infection vector is unfamiliar, so Sentinel Lab’s report commences with the antivirus abuse, which contains goods from TrendMicro, Bitdefender, McAfee, Symantec, and Kaspersky.

Since these AV merchandise run with substantial privileges on Home windows OS, aspect-loading a destructive DLL on their system enables the hackers to run code on the device with several limitations and probably evade detection.

Moshen Dragon works by using this strategy to deploy Impacket, a Python kit made to aid lateral movement and distant code execution via Windows Administration Instrumentation (WMI).

Impacket's lateral movement features
Impacket’s lateral motion functions (Sentinel Labs)

Impacket also helps with credential-thieving, incorporating an open-resource instrument that captures the details of password transform evens on a domain and writes them to the “C:WindowsTempFilter.log” file.

Password filter used for stealing credentials
Password filter employed for stealing credentials (Sentinel Labs)

Having access to neighboring systems, the threat group drops a passive loader on them that confirms it can be on the proper machine prior to activating by comparing the hostname to a hardcoded value.

As Sentinel Labs implies, this is an indicator that the threat actor generates a special DLL for just about every of the devices it targets, yet another indicator of their sophistication and diligence.

The loader utilizes the WinDivert packet sniffer to intercept incoming traffic right up until it will get the string essential for self-decryption and then unpacks and launches the payload (SNAC.log or bdch.tmp).

Loader's exported functions
Loader’s exported features (Sentinel Labs)

According to Sentinel Labs, the payloads incorporate variants of PlugX and ShadowPad, two backdoors that numerous Chinese APTs have employed in modern decades. The closing goal of the menace actor is to exfiltrate information from as lots of techniques as feasible.

Loader noticed in US govt systems way too

An interesting acquiring is that the loader analyzed by Sentinel Labs this time has been spotted once more by Avast scientists in December 2021, who learned it in a US authorities technique.

This could imply that Moshen Dragon has various targets or shifted its emphasis, or simply that various Chinese APTs use the distinct loader.

Thinking about that these teams share quite a few similarities in the remaining payloads they deploy on the target devices, it would not be astonishing if they made use of the similar or very similar loaders way too.

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