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Kaspersky Lab Uncovers ‘Operation NetTraveler,’ a Global Cyberespionage Campaign Targeting Government-Affiliated Organisations and Research Institutes

June 10, 2013

ABINGDON, England, June 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

Malicious NetTraveler Toolkit Infects 350 High-Profile Victims for Data Theft and
Surveillance

Kaspersky Lab’s team of experts has today published a new research report about
NetTraveler, a family of malicious programs used by APT actors to successfully compromise
more than 350 high-profile victims in 40 countries. The NetTraveler group has infected
victims across multiple establishments in both the public and private sector including
government institutions, embassies, the oil and gas industry, research centers, military
contractors and activists.

According to Kaspersky Lab’s report, this threat actor has been active since as early
as 2004; however, the highest volume of activity occurred from 2010 – 2013. Most recently,
the NetTraveler group’s main domains of interest for cyberespionage activities include
space exploration, nanotechnology, energy production, nuclear power, lasers, medicine and
communications.

Infection Methods:

        - Attackers infected victims by sending clever spear-phishing emails with
          malicious Microsoft Office attachments that are rigged with two highly exploited
          vulnerabilities (CVE-2012-0158
          [http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/ms12-027 ] and CVE-2010-3333
          [http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/MS10-087 ]). Even though
          Microsoft already issued patches for these vulnerabilities they're still widely used
          for exploitation in targeted attacks and have proven to be effective.
        - The titles of the malicious attachments in the spear-phishing emails depict
          the NetTraveler group's dogged effort of customising their attacks in order to infect
          high-profile targets. Notable titles of malicious documents include:
             - Army Cyber Security Policy 2013.doc
             - Report - Asia Defense Spending Boom.doc
             - Activity Details.doc
             - His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Switzerland day 4
             - Freedom of Speech.doc

Data Theft & Exfiltration:

        - During Kaspersky Lab's analysis, its team of experts obtained infection
          logs from several of NetTraveler's command and control servers (C&C). C&C servers are
          used to install additional malware on infected machines and exfiltrate stolen data.
          Kaspersky Lab's experts calculated the amount of stolen data stored on NetTraveler's
          C&C servers to be more than 22 gigabytes.
        - Exfiltrated data from infected machines typically included file system
          listings, keyloggs, and various types of files including PDFs, excel sheets, word
          documents and files. In addition, the NetTraveler toolkit was able to install
          additional info-stealing malware as a backdoor, and it could be customised to steal
          other types of sensitive information such as configuration details for an application
          or computer-aided design files.

Global Infection Statistics:

        - Based on Kaspersky Lab's analysis of NetTraveler's C&C data, there were a
          total of 350 victims in 40 countries across including the United States, Canada,
          United Kingdom, Russia, Chile, Morocco, Greece, Belgium, Austria, Ukraine, Lithuania,
          Belarus, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Mongolia, Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan,
          South Korea, Thailand, Qatar, Kazakhstan, and Jordan.
        - In conjunction with the C&C data analysis, Kaspersky Lab's experts used the
          Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) to identify additional infection statistics. The top
          ten countries with victims detected by KSN were Mongolia followed by Russia, India,
          Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, South Korea, Spain and Germany.

Additional Findings

        - During Kaspersky Lab's analysis of NetTraveler, the company's experts
          identified six victims that had been infected by both NetTraveler and Red October
          [https://www.securelist.com/en/analysis/204792262/Red_October_Diplomatic_Cyber_Attacks_Investigation#8 ]
          , which was another cyberespionage operation analysed by Kaspersky
          Lab in January 2013. Although no direct links between the NetTraveler attackers and
          the Red October threat actors were observed, the fact that specific victims were
          infected by both of these campaigns indicates that these high-profile victims are
          being targeted by multiple threat actors because their information is a valuable
          commodity to the attackers.

To read Kaspersky Lab’s full research analysis, including indicators of compromise,
remediation techniques and details of NetTraveler and its malicious components, please
visit Securelist.

Kaspersky Lab’s products detect and neutralize the malicious programs and its variants
used by the NetTraveler Toolkit, including Trojan-Spy.Win32.TravNet and
Downloader.Win32.NetTraveler. Kaspersky Lab’s products detect the Microsoft Office
exploits used in the spear-phishing attacks, including Exploit.MSWord.CVE-2010-333,
Exploit.Win32.CVE-2012-0158.

About Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab is the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection
solutions. The company is ranked among the world’s top four vendors of security solutions
for endpoint users*. Throughout its 15-year history Kaspersky Lab has remained an
innovator in IT security and provides effective digital security solutions for consumers,
SMBs and enterprises. The company currently operates in almost 200 countries and
territories across the globe, providing protection for over 300 million users worldwide.
Learn more at http://www.kaspersky.co.uk.

* The company was rated fourth in the IDC rating Worldwide Endpoint Security Revenue
by Vendor, 2011. The rating was published in the IDC report “Worldwide Endpoint Security
2012-2016 Forecast and 2011 Vendor Shares (IDC #235930, July 2012). The report ranked
software vendors according to earnings from sales of endpoint security solutions in 2011.

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SOURCE Kaspersky Lab


Source: PR Newswire