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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Root9Bintrusionsecurityspywaremalware

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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?