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Malware Attacks on Polish Banks Linked to Lazarus Group

Poland Bank Attacks Part of Bigger Campaign Targeting Over 100 Organizations 

The recently discovered attacks aimed at banks in Poland appear to be part of a bigger campaign targeting financial organizations around the world, and researchers have found some links to the threat actor known as Lazarus.

Poland Bank Attacks Part of Bigger Campaign Targeting Over 100 Organizations 

The recently discovered attacks aimed at banks in Poland appear to be part of a bigger campaign targeting financial organizations around the world, and researchers have found some links to the threat actor known as Lazarus.

BadCyber reported earlier this month that the systems of several Polish banks had been infected with a new piece of malware. The attackers hijacked the website of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (knf.gov.pl) and abused it to deliver malware to its visitors.

While there is no evidence that money has been stolen from banks or their customers, some of the organizations whose systems have been infected have noticed large outgoing data transfers.

Researchers at Symantec and BAE Systems have also analyzed the attack and determined that the custom exploit kit used by the attackers was configured to infect only visitors with certain IP addresses.

Symantec has identified roughly 150 targeted IPs associated with more than 100 organizations across 31 countries. Most of the targeted organizations are banks, but the list of targets also includes telecoms and Internet companies. The IP addresses have been linked to banks in Poland, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Venezuela, Colombia, the U.K., Peru and India.

The custom exploit kit was used to target Symantec customers in Poland, Mexico and Uruguay in attacks first spotted in October 2016.

The Polish website used as a watering hole delivered a piece of malware known to be part of the toolkit of the Lazarus Group. This threat actor, analyzed last year by several security firms, has been active since at least 2009 – possibly as early as 2007 – and it has conducted not only cyber espionage operations, but also attacks whose goal was to destroy data and disrupt systems.

Several high profile attacks have been attributed to the Lazarus Group, including the 2014 attack on Sony, and the Dark Seoul and Operation Troy campaigns. The actor has targeted government, military, media, aerospace, financial and manufacturing organizations primarily in South Korea and the United States.

Researchers also discovered links between Lazarus and an attack on a bank in the Philippines believed to have been carried out by the same cybercriminals that stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s Central Bank.

BAE Systems discovered that one of the domains used in the recent Poland watering hole attack was also involved in a similar attack targeting the National Banking and Stock Commission of Mexico (cnbv.gob.mx), which is the Mexican equivalent of Poland’s KNF. The firm has also found evidence suggesting that the website of a state-owned bank in Uruguay had been targeted in a similar attack.

“The technical/forensic evidence to link the Lazarus group actors (who we believe are behind the Bangladesh Bank attack and many others in 2016) to the watering-hole activity is unclear,” BAE Systems researchers said in a blog post. “However, the choice of bank supervisor / state-bank websites would be apt, given their previous targeting of Central Banks for Heists – even when it serves little operational benefit for infiltrating the wider banking sector.”

Related: Legitimate Tools Abused For Fileless Infections

Written By

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.

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