Security Experts:

Crouching Yeti APT Actor Still Targeting Industrial Sectors: Kaspersky

The threat actor group known as Crouching Yeti, Energetic Bear and Dragonfly continues to target organizations across the world. However, experts believe the group has switched targets and infrastructure.

According to Kaspersky, the Russian-speaking group has been involved in several advanced persistent threat (APT) campaigns since 2010, targeting organizations in sectors such as energy, machinery, IT, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, education, and construction.

The actor has leveraged exploits, social engineering, watering hole attacks, and trojanized software installers to distribute the pieces of malware it uses to steal valuable data from the targeted organizations’ systems.

In a blog post published on Tuesday, Kaspersky reported that the 69 command and control (C&C) servers it has been monitoring have communicated to roughly 3,700 victims connecting from nearly 58,000 IP addresses.

The C&C servers are located mainly in the United States, Germany, Russia and the UK, and they handle more than 1,000 unique victim connection each day. However, Kaspersky’s analysis shows that the number of hits has decreased considerably over the past months after security firms started publishing reports on Crouching Yeti’s activities.

The threat group uses three main pieces of malware in its operations: the Havex Trojan, which has been seen in attacks against industrial control systems (ICS), the Sysmain Trojan, and the ClientX backdoor. The largest number of devices infected with these threats have been spotted in Spain (8,051 IP addresses), followed by Poland (5,196), Greece (4,399), Italy (4,283), Serbia (3,426), Turkey (3,216), Japan (3,211), Germany (3,115), the United States (2,359) and Romania (2,054).

“The most widely used Trojan on these C2 server is Havex with 3375 unique victims. Sysmain counts 314 and ClientX 10 (as in the last year's report). For Havex, version 024 is still the most widespread, followed by version 043,” Kaspersky wrote in its blog post.

In an IT security report published late last year, Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) noted that Energetic Bear had targeted German companies’ SCADA systems using Havex.

“In this update, we did not see relevant changes in the infrastructure or in the C2 activity,” Kaspersky researchers noted. “Taking into account the nature of this threat actor and the operational status of the infrastructure, it is likely the operators already switched infrastructure, techniques and targets.”

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.