Security Experts:

'Kasperagent' Spyware Delivered via Palestine-Themed Documents

Researchers spotted a new cyber espionage campaign involving Kasperagent, and while it’s unclear who the target was, the decoy documents used to deliver the malware focused on Palestine.

The first report describing this threat group’s activities was published in March by Chinese security firm Qihoo 360, which tracks the actor as APT-C-23 and Two-Tailed Scorpion. In early April, Palo Alto Networks and ClearSky also made public the results of a joint investigation into this group.

The group uses Windows malware dubbed Kasperagent and Micropsia, and Android malware called SecureUpdate and Vamp in attacks aimed mainly at Palestine. Some infections have also been observed in Israel, Egypt and the United States.

Researchers at threat intelligence firm ThreatConnect recently came across tens of Kasperagent samples that had been compiled in April and May.

These samples dropped various decoy documents associated with the Palestinian Authority, the governing body of the emerging Palestinian autonomous regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The documents referenced subjects such as the assassination of Hamas military leader Mazen Fuqaha, and banning of the Palestinian political party Fatah from Gaza.

Kasperagent has mainly been used as a reconnaissance tool and downloader, but some newer samples include additional capabilities that allow attackers to steal passwords from browsers, take screenshots, log keystrokes, execute arbitrary commands, and exfiltrate files.

While the malware samples found by ThreatConnect were similar to ones analyzed by Palo Alto Networks and ClearSky a few months ago, the command and control (C&C) server they contacted was different.

An analysis of the C&C infrastructure showed that the domain contacted by the malware was hosted on an IP address that stored four domains, including two registered by a freelance web developer from Gaza.

“Just like we can’t make a definitive determination as to who conducted this campaign, we do not know for sure who it was intended to target. What we do know is that several of the malicious files were submitted to a public malware analysis site from the Palestinian Territories. This tells us that it is possible either the threat actors or at least one of the targets is located in that area,” ThreatConnect said in a blog post.

Experts believe the attack may have been aimed at Hamas, Israel or the Fatah party, whose members include the prime minister and president of the Palestinian Authority.

The attacks were carried out shortly after Hamas created a parallel institution to run local ministries in Gaza, which caused further tension between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and just before the Palestinian Authority held elections in the West Bank.

Related: Users in Middle East Targeted in "Moonlight" Espionage Campaign

Related: Hamas 'Honey Trap' Dupes Israeli Soldiers

Related: Qatar Begins Probe After State News Agency Hacked

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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.