Hack the Real Box: APT41’s New Subgroup Earth Longzhi

In early 2022, Trend Micro investigated an incident that compromised a company in Taiwan. The malware used in the incident was a simple but custom Cobalt Strike loader. After further investigation, however, we found incidents targeting multiple regions using a similar Cobalt Strike loader. While analyzing code similarities and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), we discovered that the actor behind this attack has been active since 2020. After clustering each intrusion, Trend Micro concluded that the threat actor is a new subgroup of advanced persistent threat (APT) group APT41 that we call Earth Longzhi. In this entry, Trend Micro reveal two campaigns by Earth Longzhi from 2020 to 2022 and introduce some of the group’s arsenal in these campaigns. This entry was also presented at the HITCON PEACE 2022 conference in August this year.

Campaign overview
Since it first started being active in 2020, Earth Longzhi’s long-running campaign can be divided into two based on the range of time and toolset. During its first campaign deployed from 2020 to 2021, Earth Longzhi targeted the government, infrastructure, and health industries in Taiwan and the banking sector in China. In its second campaign from 2021 to 2022, the group targeted high-profile victims in the defense, aviation, insurance, and urban development industries in Taiwan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Ukraine.

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Source: Trend Micro