Kaspersky experts recently uncovered a series of attacks by advanced persistent threat (APT) actor BlueNoroff against small and medium-sized companies worldwide, which resulted in significant cryptocurrency losses for the victims. 

This malicious campaign, dubbed SnatchCrypto, is aimed at various companies that deal with cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, Decentralized Finance (DeFi), Blockchain, and the FinTech industry.

In BlueNoroff’s most recent campaign, the attackers have been subtly abusing the trust of the employees working at targeted companies by sending them a full-featured Windows backdoor with surveillance functions under the guise of a “contract” or another business file. To eventually empty the victim’s crypto wallet, the actor has developed extensive and dangerous resources: complex infrastructure, exploits, malware implants.

An attentive user may spot that something fishy is happening while MS Word shows a standard loading popup window. (source: Kaspersky)

For instance, if the document was to be opened offline, the file would not represent anything dangerous – most likely, it would look like a copy of some kind of contract or another harmless document. But if the computer is connected to the Internet at the time of opening the file, another macro-enabled document is fetched to the victim’s device, deploying malware.

BlueNoroff is part of the larger Lazarus group and uses its diversified structure and sophisticated attack technologies.

The Lazarus APT group is known for attacks on banks and servers connected to SWIFT, and has even engaged in the creation of fake companies to develop cryptocurrency software. The deceived clients subsequently installed legitimate-looking apps and, after a while, received backdoored updates.

“As attackers continuously come up with a lot of new ways to trick and abuse, even small businesses should educate their employees on basic cybersecurity practices. It is especially essential if the company works with crypto wallets. There is nothing wrong with using cryptocurrency services and extensions, but note that it is also an attractive target for APT and cybercriminals alike. Therefore, this sector needs to be well protected,” explained Seongsu Park, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT).

For businesses’ protection, Kaspersky suggests the following:

  • Provide your staff with basic cybersecurity hygiene training, as many targeted attacks start with phishing or other social engineering techniques.
  • Carry out a cybersecurity audit of your networks and remediate any weaknesses discovered in the perimeter or inside the network.
  • The extension injection is hard to find manually unless you are very familiar with the Metamask codebase. However, a modification of the Chrome extension leaves a trace. The browser has to be switched to Developer Mode, and the Metamask extension is installed from a local directory instead of the online store. If the plugin comes from the store, Chrome enforces digital signature validation and guarantees code integrity. So, if you are in doubt, check your Metamask extension and Chrome settings right now.
  • Install anti-APT and EDR solutions, enabling threat discovery and detection, investigation, and timely remediation of incidents capabilities. Provide your SOC team access to the latest threat intelligence and regularly upskill them with professional training. All of the above is available within the Kaspersky Expert Security framework.
  • Along with proper endpoint protection, dedicated services can help against high-profile attacks. The Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service can help identify and stop attacks in their early stages before the attackers achieve their goals.

Read more on the full report about BlueNoroff on Securelist.

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