The APT41 (Advanced Persistent Threat) is a hacking group that is believed to originate from China. They are also known under the alias Winnti Group. This name was given to them by malware experts and came from one of their most notorious hacking tools called the Winnti backdoor Trojan, which was first spotted back in 2011. This hacking group appears to be mostly financially motivated.
Targets the Gaming Industry Mainly
Unlike most high-profile hacking groups that tend to target industries of great importance such as military, pharmaceutical, energy, etc., the Winnti Group prefers to go after companies operating in the gaming industry. Even their first most popular hacking tool, the Winnti backdoor Trojan, was propagated via a fake update for an online game, which was very popular at the time. Once this threat was uncovered, most users started speculating that the developers of the game are using the Winnti Trojan to collect data about the players. However, these rumors soon disappeared as cybersecurity researchers confirmed that the Winnti backdoor Trojan belongs to a malicious third-party actor.
Updates Tools Regularly
The APT41 group has been using their signature hacking tool, the Winnti Trojan, for eight years now but do not think for one second that this threat is outdated and harmless. Not at all, the Winnti Group has made sure to regularly update this hacking tool to ensure it remains one step ahead of malware experts. The hacking group has not only further weaponized their tool over the years but have also made sure that the Winnti backdoor Trojan leaves minimum traces of its malicious activity to remain hiding for as long as possible.
Uses Collected Digital Certificates
One of the trademarks of the APT41 hacking group is using digital certificates, which they steal by infiltrating the networks of certain companies. Once this is completed, they can launch campaigns targeting organizations operating in the same sector. While malware experts are aware of the Winnti Group’s trickery and have been working tirelessly to make sure that the obtain certificates are revoked, this process required a long time to be completed, so the malicious activities of the Winnti Group are often carried out without any interruptions.
Some of the other tools in the arsenal of the APT41 group are the BOOSTWRITE malware, the PortReuse backdoor Trojan and the ShadowPad backdoor.
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