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U.S. Attributes New Trojan to North Korean Hackers

Notorious North Korean hackers are using a new Trojan in their attacks, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned on Wednesday.

Notorious North Korean hackers are using a new Trojan in their attacks, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned on Wednesday.

Referred to as Lazarus, BlueNoroff, and Hidden Cobra and said to be backed by the North Korean government, the group is believed to have orchestrated a number of high profile attacks, including the Bangladesh central bank heist and assaults on numerous financial organizations.

Over the past couple of years, the U.S. linked multiple tools to Hidden Cobra activity, including Typeframe, Sharpknot, Hardrain, Badcall, Bankshot, Fallchil, Volgmer, Delta Charlie, and Joanap and Brambul.

In a Malware Analysis Report (MAR) this week, the DHS and FBI detail HOPLIGHT, a new Trojan used by Hidden Cobra.

The powerful backdoor can collect information from the infected systems and can perform various actions as instructed by the command and control (C&C) server.

The malware consists of nine files, but seven of them are proxy applications designed to mask traffic between the malware and the remote operators. The proxies can generate fake TLS handshake sessions using valid public SSL certificates to hide network connections with the malicious servers.

“One file contains a public SSL certificate and the payload of the file appears to be encoded with a password or key. The remaining file does not contain any of the public SSL certificates, but attempts outbound connections and drops four files. The dropped files primarily contain IP addresses and SSL certificates,” the report says.

The HOPLIGHT Trojan can read and write files, enumerate system drives, create and terminate processes, inject code into running processes, modify registry settings, connect to a remote host to upload and download files, and create, launch, and stop services.

Hidden Cobra is known for its focus on financial gain – which separates it from other state-sponsored hacking groups – and was said to be the most serious threat to banks. Last year, security researchers managed to link most North Korean malware to the group through code reuse.

Some of its campaigns are tracked as Operation Blockbuster, Dark Seoul and Operation Troy, and the hackers have also been blamed for the WannaCry attack. Earlier this year, the U.S. took a swing at the group’s Joanap botnet.

Related: North Korea’s Lazarus Hackers Found Targeting Russian Entities

Related: U.S. Takes Aim at North Korea’s Joanap Botnet

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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