Hackers employ a wide variety of techniques, tailoring each assault to the target.
Critical infrastructure in China has been the target of an uptick in cyber attacks in recent months. The discovery of a new series of APT attacks by the Shuangyirat group was one of the most alarming phenomena discovered by the Fuying Lab team. Attackers have carried out complex cyberattacks over the past six months, displaying a high level of hacking expertise and the capacity to cause significant damage.
Fuying Lab found that the cybercriminals had used specialized tools, which led them to the Double XOR Rat campaign. The name comes from the characteristic communication encryption method that uses double XOR encryption in the communication process.
The main targets of Double XOR Rat were leading state-owned enterprises, research institutes and government agencies. This distinct group exploits security flaws to take command of a wide variety of public network nodes, and then conducts in-depth vulnerability scans of internal networks to assess the worth of each compromised target.
Fuying Lab claims that the organization's attacks fall into one of three broad categories, each of which is designed to exploit a specific weakness in the targeted systems.
The initial style of assault
It relies on gaining initial access to the system by exploiting flaws in security devices that are reachable over the Internet. After gaining access to a system, the hackers can then download even more malicious code by activating a Python HTTP server on the compromised devices.
The first type of attack is a reconnaissance operation, which is how experts define attacks that use NetBIOS scanning tools to locate Windows hosts on a network. NBTscan or Nextnet scanners are used to evaluate the potential of the target domain depending on the processor architecture of the target devices.
The Second Form of Assault
According to the description, the operation uses a Trojan that the group itself developed as a monitoring tool. Hacker-valuable devices are prioritized for activation of the method. Malware allows persistent two-way communication with a compromised system, giving attackers the ability to spy on and control infected devices.
A third form of assault
It's the most niche, and it's only deployed when the target domain also houses mail service infrastructure. After hackers gain access to a server, they can use it to send out phishing emails; when sent from a whitelisted server, these attacks are much more successful.
Researchers say the Double XOR Rat campaign is still active, so businesses should take precautions like keeping up with software updates and training employees to recognize cyber threats.