Earlier this year, researchers at Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky witnessed a cyberespionage campaign targeting Microsoft Windows PCs at government and telecom entities in China and Pakistan. They began in June 2020 and continued through to April 2021. What piqued the researchers’ interest was the hacking software used by the digital spies, whom Kaspersky had dubbed Bitter APT, a pseudonym for an unspecified government agency. Aspects of the code looked like some the Moscow antivirus provider had previously seen and attributed to a company it gave the cryptonym “Moses.”
Moses, said Kaspersky, was a mysterious provider of hacking tech known as a “zero-day exploit broker.” Such companies operate in a niche market within the $130 billion overall cybersecurity industry, creating software—an “exploit”—that can hack into computers via unpatched vulnerabilities known as “zero days” (the term coming from the fact that developers have “zero days” to fix the problem before it’s publicly known).