OilRig Targets Middle Eastern Telecom Organization and Adds Novel C2 Channel with Steganography to Its Inventory

While analyzing an attack against a Middle Eastern telecommunications organization, Unit 42 has discovered a variant of an OilRig-associated tool we call RDAT using a novel email-based command and control (C2) channel that relied on a technique known as steganography to hide commands and data within bitmap images attached to emails.

In May 2020, Symantec published research on the Greenbug group targeting telecommunications organizations in Southeast Asia, involving attacks made as recently as April 2020. Unit 42 observed similar tactics and tools associated with attacks on a telecommunications organization in the Middle East in April 2020, specifically using custom Mimikatz tools, Bitvise, PowerShell downloaders and a custom backdoor we track as RDAT. Unit 42 has previously linked Greenbug to OilRig, a threat group we discovered in 2015. We had first seen the RDAT tool used in OilRig’s operations back in 2017, but we later found a related sample created in 2018 that used a different command and control channel. When we analyzed this sample, we found a novel email-based C2 channel used in combination with steganography to exfiltrate data.

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Source: Palo Alto