Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Russian APT Gamaredon Changes Tactics in Attacks Targeting Ukraine

Russia-linked Gamaredon, a hacking group known for providing services to other advanced persistent threat (APT) actors, is one of the most intrusive, continuously active APTs targeting Ukraine, Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 warns.

Russia-linked Gamaredon, a hacking group known for providing services to other advanced persistent threat (APT) actors, is one of the most intrusive, continuously active APTs targeting Ukraine, Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 warns.

Also known as Armageddon, Primitive Bear, Shuckworm, and Trident Ursa, Gamaredon has been active since at least 2013, mainly focused on targets in Ukraine. The APT relies on phishing emails for malware distribution and provides access to compromised networks and intelligence to other threat actors.

Over the past ten months, Gamaredon was seen targeting a large petroleum refining company, as well as changing its tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) multiple times.

Traditionally, the hacking group was seen using phishing lures in the Ukrainian language, but it also employed English language lures in some cases, likely to boost network access and intelligence collection against both Ukraine and NATO members, Unit 42 notes.

At the end of August, the threat actor unsuccessfully attempted to compromise “a large petroleum refining company within a NATO member nation” using English language lures.

Unit 42’s security researchers also discovered that, on February 24, the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine, an individual named Anton, who appears to have ties to Gamaredon, threatened a group of cybersecurity researchers who published tweets highlighting the group’s indicators of compromise (IoCs).

Over the next few days, Anton used several accounts to publish threatening tweets that featured the Gamaredon hashtag, including one containing the full name and address of Mikhail Kasimov, a researcher operating from within the war zone.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Over the past six months, the group was observed using various DNS-related techniques to increase the resilience of their operations, such as the use of “legitimate services to query IP assignments for malicious domains”, effectively bypassing DNS and DNS logging, Unit 42 says.

The APT was also seen using Telegram messenger content to identify the latest IP used for command-and-control (C&C), flooding the fast flux DNS tables of its root domains with ‘junk’ IPs and using subdomains, and relying on virtual private server (VPS) providers in an autonomous system (AS) for operational infrastructure outside Russia.

Gamaredon continues to rely on .html files and Word documents for malware delivery and has been observed using two different droppers over the past three months, namely a 7-Zip self-extracting (SFX) archive and a loader that relies on wscript to execute two dropped files.

Despite having its operations publicly detailed several times, Gamaredon continues to use the same simple techniques, mainly relying on heavy obfuscation and publicly available tools, and even reuses code in new attacks, often registering success in its operations and remaining a major cyberthreat to Ukraine, Unit 42 concludes.

Related: More Russian Attacks Against Ukraine Come to Light

Related: Highly Active ‘Gamaredon’ Group Provides Services to Other APTs

Related: Ukraine Names Russian FSB Officers Involved in Gamaredon Cyberattacks

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content


Less than a week after announcing that it would suspended service indefinitely due to a conflict with an (at the time) unnamed security researcher...


WASHINGTON - Cyberattacks are the most serious threat facing the United States, even more so than terrorism, according to American defense experts. Almost half...

Data Breaches

OpenAI has confirmed a ChatGPT data breach on the same day a security firm reported seeing the use of a component affected by an...


The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...

Risk Management

The supply chain threat is directly linked to attack surface management, but the supply chain must be known and understood before it can be...


The latest Chrome update brings patches for eight vulnerabilities, including seven reported by external researchers.


Patch Tuesday: Microsoft warns vulnerability (CVE-2023-23397) could lead to exploitation before an email is viewed in the Preview Pane.