Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Application Security

Sandworm Hackers Hit French Monitoring Software Vendor Centreon

Russia-Linked Threat Group Caught Deploying Backdoors on Linux Servers in an Attack That Triggers New Conversations on Software Supply Chain Security

Russia-Linked Threat Group Caught Deploying Backdoors on Linux Servers in an Attack That Triggers New Conversations on Software Supply Chain Security

 The French National Agency for the Security of Information Systems (ANSSI) is publicly blaming the notorious Sandworm APT group for a series of long-term hacking attacks against multiple IT and web hosting shops in Europe.

According to a technical advisory released by ANSSI, the data breaches date back to 2017 and include the eyebrow-raising compromise of Centreon, an IT monitoring software provider widely embedded throughout government organizations in France.

The agency did not say if the Centreon compromise was part of a supply-chain attack but the decision to publicly identify the Sandworm attackers triggers new conversations about the group’s previous software supply chain targeting in high-profile APT attacks.

[UPDATE] Centreon said Tuesday that only an old version of its software dating from before 2015, used by open-source developers, had been infiltrated by the alleged hackers, and that commercial users are not affected.

Documented research has linked the Sandworm team to a government-backed Russian APT group linked to separate attacks against Ukraine targets in 2015 and 2017, and the 2018 cyberattack on the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Supply Chain Security Summit

The French agency released a detailed technical report on the Centreon hack, which targeted Linux servers running the CentOS operating system. While the initial compromise method remains unknown, AANSI said the attackers deployed two backdoors and “has many similarities to previous campaigns of the Sandworm modus operandi.”

The agency also found known Sandworm-controlled servers being used as part of the command-and-control infrastructure for the four-year-old infiltrations of French and European entities.

“Generally speaking, the intrusion set Sandworm is known to lead consequent intrusion campaigns before focusing on specific targets that fits its strategic interests within the victims pool. The campaign observed by ANSSI fits this behaviour,” the agency said.

The report details the use of public and commercial VPN services to communicate with the backdoors, listing several legitimate tools and providers within Sandworm’s arsenal.  

AANSI also released a separate document with SNORT and YARA rules and other  indicators of compromise (IOCs) to help threat hunters search for signs of Sandworm activity.

The agency also published a series of recommendations for organizations to raise the bar for Sandworm and other APT groups.  These include improved patch management, server hardening, and limiting the exposure of monitoring systems.

“Monitoring systems such as Centreon need to be highly intertwined with the monitored information system and therefore are a prime target for intrusion sets seeking lateralisation,” the agency added.  

“It is recommended either not to expose these tools’ web interfaces to the Internet or to restrict such access using non-applicative authentication (TLS client certificate, basic authentication on the web server).”

*Updated Feb. 16 with Centreon claiming only older versions of its open-source product were inpacted by the breach

Written By

Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. He is a security community engagement expert who has built programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. Ryan is a founding-director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world.

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.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.


Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.


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

Data Protection

The CRYSTALS-Kyber public-key encryption and key encapsulation mechanism recommended by NIST for post-quantum cryptography has been broken using AI combined with side channel attacks.

Data Protection

The cryptopocalypse is the point at which quantum computing becomes powerful enough to use Shor’s algorithm to crack PKI encryption.


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


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

Application Security

PayPal is alerting roughly 35,000 individuals that their accounts have been targeted in a credential stuffing campaign.


No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.