Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



U.S. Organizations Targeted by New Cybercrime Group With Sophisticated Malware

A new threat actor that appears to be financially motivated has targeted many organizations in the United States and other countries using several new pieces of malware, FireEye reported on Tuesday.

A new threat actor that appears to be financially motivated has targeted many organizations in the United States and other countries using several new pieces of malware, FireEye reported on Tuesday.

The threat actor, which does not appear to be linked to other known groups, is tracked by the cybersecurity firm as UNC2529 (UNC stands for uncategorized). The phishing campaign conducted by UNC2529 targeted a wide range of organizations, and involved the use of a sizable command and control (C&C) infrastructure, three sophisticated malware families, and custom lures.

FireEye, whose incident response unit Mandiant observed two attack waves in December 2020, described the group as “experienced and well resourced.” The company spotted 28 targeted organizations in the first wave and believes there were at least 22 in the second wave.

Roughly 70% of victims were spotted by FireEye in the United States, including organizations in the financial, business services, health, retail, military and aerospace, engineering and manufacturing, government, education, transportation, and utilities sectors.

The cybercriminals also targeted organizations in the EMEA region, Asia and Australia. However, FireEye has admitted there is some “telemetry bias” considering that it has more customers in the U.S. compared to other countries.

“Although Mandiant has no evidence about the objectives of this threat actor, their broad targeting across industries and geographies is consistent with a targeting calculus most commonly seen among financially motivated groups,” FireEye said.

The attacks launched by UNC2529 start with a phishing email containing a link to a malicious or compromised website that serves a piece of malware. The emails had subject lines that were tailored to the targeted organization.

The attacks involved three previously unseen pieces of malware tracked by FireEye as DOUBLEDRAG, DOUBLEDROP and DOUBLEBACK. DOUBLEDRAG is a downloader delivered in the first stage of the attack and which in some cases was replaced with a malicious Excel document that served as a downloader.

DOUBLEDRAG is designed to connect to a C&C server and fetch DOUBLEDROP, a memory-only dropper that deploys DOUBLEBACK, a backdoor that is apparently still under development.

“The threat actor made extensive use of obfuscation and fileless malware to complicate detection to deliver a well coded and extensible backdoor,” FireEye said. “UNC2529 is assessed as capable, professional and well resourced. The identified wide-ranging targets, across geography and industry suggests a financial crime motive.”

Related: Sophisticated Threat Actor Exploited Oracle Solaris Zero-Day

Related: Three Zero-Day Flaws in SonicWall Email Security Product Exploited in Attacks

Written By

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.

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.

Expert Insights

Related Content


Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.


The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.


The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.


The North Korean APT tracked as TA444 is either moonlighting from its previous primary purpose, expanding its attack repertoire, or is being impersonated by...

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.


A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...


CISA, NSA, and MS-ISAC issued an alert on the malicious use of RMM software to steal money from bank accounts.


Video games developer Riot Games says source code was stolen from its development environment in a ransomware attack