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Trend Micro Patches Vulnerability Exploited by Chinese Cyberspies

Cybersecurity company Trend Micro has updated one of its products to patch a vulnerability that has been exploited by a threat actor linked to China.

The threat actor’s activities have been analyzed by endpoint security firm SentinelOne, which tracks the group as Moshen Dragon. Some overlaps have been found with groups tracked by others as RedFoxtrot and Nomad Panda.

SentinelOne reported in early May that the hackers, who appear to focus on conducting cyberespionage operations aimed at entities in Central Asia, have been abusing antivirus products to sideload malicious DLLs and deliver their malware.

“Moshen Dragon actors systematically abused security software to perform DLL search order hijacking. The hijacked DLL is in turn used to decrypt and load the final payload, stored in a third file residing in the same folder,” the cybersecurity firm explained.

SentinelOne named products from Symantec, Trend Micro, Bitdefender, McAfee and Kaspersky as being targeted by the cyberspies, but to date only Trend Micro appears to have identified a vulnerability exploited by the attackers.

In a recent advisory, Trend Micro said only its Trend Micro Security consumer product is affected, and a fix was deployed through the company’s ActiveUpdate system on May 19.

The company found no evidence that commercial or business-focused products are impacted by the flaw exploited by Moshen Dragon.

DLL hijacking vulnerabilities, which leverage a design flaw in Windows, can typically be used by an authenticated attacker to execute code with elevated privileges. These types of flaws are very common. A few years ago, SafeBreach showed that many antiviruses were affected, including ones from Trend Micro, Bitdefender, McAfee, Kaspersky and Symantec.

In the attacks observed by SentinelOne, Moshen Dragon targeted the telecoms sector in Central Asia, delivering malware such as ShadowPad and PlugX, as well as a backdoor named Gunters.

It’s not uncommon for vulnerabilities in Trend Micro products to be exploited in targeted attacks. Most recently, the company informed customers in late March that it had been aware of malicious attacks exploiting a vulnerability affecting its Apex Central product.

Related: Trend Micro Patches Vulnerabilities in Hybrid Cloud Security Products

Related: Trend Micro Confirms Apex One Exploitation

Related: Trend Micro Confirms In-the-Wild Zero-Day Attacks

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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.