The Energetic Bear is a hacking group that is considered to be an APT (Advanced Persistent Threat). This hacking group also is known under two other aliases – Crouching Yeti and Dragonfly. Energetic Bear tends to target high-ranking personnel in the industrial sector, as well as the energy sector. The Energetic Bear group usually changes its region of preference over time. In general, most of their targets are concentrated in the U.S. and Europe, but in 2016 and 2017, most of their efforts were concentrated in Turkey.
Most Targets Operate within the Industrial and Energy Sectors
Energetic Bear tends to use a wide variety of offensive techniques along with highly creative methods of delivering their malware to the intended targets. It is common for Energetic Bear to compromise a server and turn it into a corrupted host, which would propagate executable code to run on the systems of the users who visit the compromised website. This is otherwise known as a watering hole attack. Another attack technique used by Energetic Bear is using compromised systems as a part of their C&C (Command & Control) infrastructure. These hijacked devices are then utilized for dumping gathered data and logs.
Tools Used By Energetic Bear
The Energetic Bear group employs a list of publicly available software solutions:
The Energetic Bear group uses the Wpscan application to detect any potential vulnerabilities, which may be present on remote WordPress websites. To locate any data over the SMB protocol, the hacking group employs the SMBTrap tool. The same application can be used to collect their victim’s password NTML hash. If they are successful in this endeavor, the attackers can then execute pass-the-hash attacks at a later date.
Energetic Bear Uses PHP Shells in Its Campaigns
When Energetic Bear manages to compromise a host, they can plant specific Web shells (PHP) on them, provided that the system is connected to the Internet. The main purpose of these PHP shells is to allow their operators to execute remote commands on the infected machine. This enables the attackers to gain almost complete control over the compromised system. When studying a PHP file linked to the Energetic Bear operations, cybersecurity researchers discovered that the attackers are likely using phishing email campaigns to propagate malware.
Malware experts find the Energetic Bear group rather intriguing because instead of building malware or buying readily available hacking tools, these individuals have opted to rely on legitimate software for their threatening campaigns entirely.