Russian cyber group seen preparing to attack banks

APT28 set up phishing domain names for an upcoming attack against banks in the U.S, UAE and other countries

A security firm is warning that a group of Russian hackers known for targeting military, government and media organizations is now preparing to attack banks in the US and elsewhere.

The group's preparations, which have included writing new malware, registering domain names similar to those of intended targets, and setting up command-and-control servers, were discovered by analysts from security firm Root9B.

The group has been active since at least 2007 and is known by various names including APT28 and Pawn Storm. Several security vendors believe it operates out of Russia and has possible ties to that country's intelligence agencies.

The group's primary malware tool is a backdoor program called Sednit or Sofacy that it delivers to victims through spear-phishing emails or drive-by downloads launched from compromised websites.

The Root9B analysts came across a phishing domain at the end of April that was similar to that of a Middle Eastern financial institution, according to a report published Tuesday. When they dug deeper they uncovered new Sofacy malware samples and servers and domains that were being set up by the group for an upcoming operation.

Based on the information gathered so far, Root9B believes the group's planned targets include Commercial Bank International in the UAE, Bank of America, TD Canada Trust, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), United Bank for Africa, Regions Bank, and possibly Commerzbank.

The company has alerted the financial institutions, as well as international and U.S. authorities. It's not clear if the attacks have started yet, but the Root9B analysts believe that when they do, they will likely include spear-phishing.

The company released hashes for the new malware samples it has identified and the IP address of a command-and-control server set up by the attackers, so that companies can block them on their networks.

Based on the evidence they've seen, the Root9B analysts believe that there might be two subgroups within APT28: One that targets military and government organizations and one that targets financial institutions and banks.

Of course, the attackers might now decide to delay the operation in order to change their infrastructure and targets. So, financial institutions should remain vigilant and should examine all email messages for possible spear-phishing attempts.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Root9Bintrusionsecurityspywaremalware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?