The North Korean government is known to use the services of hackers. Recently, apart from the well-known Lazarus hacking group, a new actor has emerged, the ScarCruft APT (Advanced Persistent Threat). This hacking group also is often referred to as APT37. They appear to target high-ranking South Koreans mainly. However, malware researchers have spotted APT31 campaigns in the Middle East, as well as Vietnam and Japan. It is likely that the ScarCruft hacking group has begun operating in 2015.
Preference for Stealth
The ScarCruft group tends to pay special attention to stealth in its operations. Another signature component of the APT37 operations is the collection of important information from the host. One of their primary tools that the hacking group uses for gathering data is the CORALDECK malware. The first campaign involving the CORALDECK tool was launched back in the early months of 2016 and managed to maintain its highest levels of activity for more than four months.
Targets Specific File Types and File Names
The CORALDECK threat can be classified as an infostealer. This infostealer is not a very complex threat, and the ScarCruft hacking group tends to use it in unison with other hacking tools to achieve maximum efficiency. The CORALDECK infostealer is tailored to look for distinct file types or files with specific names. This is a rather different approach since most infostealing tools target sensitive information like credit card details and login credentials. The method used by the APT37 group leads malware researchers to believe that the attackers look through the files on the system, pick which ones they would like to obtain, and use the CORALDECK tool to get their hands on the targeted data.
Archives the Collected Data
During an attack, an HTTP POST request is issued to the attackers’ server, which enables the CORALDECK infostealer to gather the information of interest using a hard-coded extraction technique. Once the threat manages to retrieve the targeted data, it will archive it in a .RAR or .ZIP archive file, which is secured with a password. The CORALDECK is also known for carrying a portable executable of the WinRAR archive software.
The large arsenal of hacking tools and their campaigns targeting high-profile figures have put the ScarCruft APT on the map certainly. The fact that the APT37 is funded by the North Korean government should concern governments worldwide as this hacking group is gaining more and more traction by the day.
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