Operation ENDTRADE: Finding Multi-Stage Backdoors that TICK

While we have been following cyberespionage group TICK (a.k.a. “BRONZE BUTLER” or “REDBALDKNIGHT”) since 2008, we noticed an unusual increase in malware development and deployments towards November 2018. We already know that the group uses previously deployed malware and modified tools for obfuscation, but we also found TICK developing new malware families capable of detection evasion for initial intrusion, as well as escalation of administrative privileges for subsequent attacks and data collection.

We also found the group using legitimate email accounts and credentials for the delivery of the malware, zeroing in on industries with highly classified information: defense, aerospace, chemical, and satellite industries with head offices in Japan and subsidiaries in China. Given their targets, we have named this campaign “Operation ENDTRADE,” and identified some of the findings in our research Operation ENDTRADE: TICK’s Multi-Stage Backdoors for Attacking Industries and Stealing Classified Data.

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Source: Trend Micro