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Ongoing Phishing Campaign Targets APAC, EMEA Governments

Government departments in at least 7 countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions have been targeted in a phishing campaign that has been ongoing since spring 2020.

Government departments in at least 7 countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions have been targeted in a phishing campaign that has been ongoing since spring 2020.

Focused on credential harvesting, the attacks most likely started in the first half of 2020, when the phishing domains used as part of the campaign were transferred to their current host, security researchers with threat intelligence firm Cyjax say.

At least 15 pages remain active, targeting the governments of countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

These pages, the researchers say, pose as various ministries within the targeted country’s governments, including departments of energy, finance, and foreign affairs. Other pages posed as the Pakistan Navy, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, and the Mail.ru email service.

The identified domains typically started with “mail.” and contained the name of the targeted government department’s domain, along with a hostname. The attackers registered five domains for the campaign, the researchers reveal.

Aimed at compromising the email portals of targeted government departments and mainly focused on Belarus, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, this intelligence-gathering campaign is likely the work of a nation-state threat actor. What is yet unknown is the manner in which the adversary disseminates the phishing links, Cyjax says.

“Considering the narrow targeting and lack of immediate financial benefit, therefore, we believe this activity is more aligned to a state-sponsored APT campaign,” the researchers say.

In fact, Cyjax identified a possible link to an APT campaign targeting Ukraine during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is tracked as Operation TrickyMouse and has ties to UNC1151 and Hades (also known as Sandworm).

Related: Sandworm Hackers Hit French Monitoring Software Vendor Centreon

Related: Russia’s APT29 Still Actively Delivering Malware Used in COVID-19 Vaccine Spying

Related: More Countries Officially Blame Russia for SolarWinds Attack

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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