A Chinese-based APT (TA413) has been targeting European officials in a spear-phishing campaign, by deploying RAT dubbed Sepulcher. Diplomatic and legislative bodies, non-profit policy research organizations, and global organizations involved in economic affairs have all been victims of these attacks. The group has been delivering the malware, for over six months now, through two separate campaigns:
- In March 2020, a phishing campaign was designed, masquerading as World Health Organization’s guidance on COVID-19 critical preparedness. The emails contained a weaponized RTF attachment. When a target clicked on the weaponized RTF attachment (named “Covid.rtf”), it exploited a Microsoft Equation Editor flaw. It then installed an embedded malicious RTF object, in the form of a Windows meta-file (WMF), to a file directory.
- At the end of July 2020, another campaign was created to target Tibetan dissidents using a strain of Sepulcher malware. The emails, which purported to come from the ‘Women’s Association Tibetan’, included a malicious PowerPoint attachment. When the PowerPoint attachment was executed, it called out to the IP 126.96.36.199 to download a Sepulcher malware payload “file.dll.”
Sepulcher is a basic RAT payload capable of performing reconnaissance within the infected host. Sepulcher obtains information about:-
- File Information
- Directory Statistics
- Directory Paths
- Directory Content
- Running Processes
This new RAT enables administrative controls, allowing the threat actor to alter or download file system. This is then used to carry out malicious activities, leading to further compromise of the network or systems.
Recently, attackers have been accused of impersonating the World Health Organisation and Australian Medical Association to launch fake global COVID-19 campaigns to gather intelligence covertly. This will lead to:-
- Misuse of the brand for fraudulent activities
- Misbranding leads to loss of goodwill and reputation
- Identity theft of the users
- Misuse of the data
- Compromise of the download which can install malicious software over the system and later on can be treated as bots
- Significant cost risk associated with all of the above
Indicators of Compromise
- Do not open suspicious, irrelevant emails, especially ones received from unknown/suspect senders.
- Use spam filters and an antivirus program to detect and filter bad emails.
- Enable an endpoint security product or endpoint protection suite.
- Keep your software up-to-date.
- Back up data on a regular basis and keep archived copies offsite and offline.
- User privilege escalation should be strong, permit only admin to access.