There was a series of targeted attacks against at least 10 financial organizations in multiple regions, including Russia, Armenia and Malaysia, being performed by a new group called Silence, researchers said.
First discovered in September, Silence implements specific techniques similar to the threat actor, Carbanak, said researchers at Kaspersky Lab. The attacks are ongoing.
Silence joins the ranks of the other cyber-robbery operations like Metel, GCMAN and Carbanak, which have stolen millions of dollars from financial organizations. Most of these operations utilize the following technique: They gain persistent access to internal banking networks for a long period, monitor its day to day activity, examine the details of each separate bank network and then when the time is right, they use that knowledge to steal as much money as possible, Kaspersky researchers said.
This is the case with Silence Trojan, which compromises its victim’s infrastructure via spear phishing emails, said researchers at Kaspersky Lab in a post.
Once the victim opens the sophisticated malicious attachments via email, it takes just one click to initiate a series of downloads and finally execute the dropper. This communicates with the command and control server, sends the ID of the infected machine, then downloads and executes malicious payloads, responsible for various tasks like screen recording, data uploading, the theft of credentials, remote control access, etc.
Criminals exploit the infrastructure of already infected financial institutions for new attacks by sending emails from real employee aliases to a new victim, along with a request to open a bank account. Through this technique, criminals ensure the recipient is unsuspicious of the infection vector.
When cybercriminals gain persistence in the network they start to examine it.
The Silence group is capable of monitoring its victims’ activities, including taking multiple screenshots of the victim’s active screen, providing a real-time video stream of all the victim’s activities and more. All of the features serve one purpose and that is to understand the victim’s day-to-day activity and obtain enough information to eventually steal money. This process and style strongly resembles the techniques used by Carbanak.
Based on language artifacts found during their research into the malicious components of this attack, Kaspersky Lab security researchers concluded the criminals behind the malicious Silence attacks speak Russian.
“The Silence Trojan is a fresh example of cybercriminals shifting from attacks on users to direct attacks on banks. We have seen this trend growing recently, as more and more slick and professional APT-style cyber-robberies emerge and succeed,” said Sergey Lozhkin, security expert, Kaspersky Lab. “The most worrying thing here is that due to their in-the-shadow approach, these attacks may succeed regardless of the peculiarities of each bank’s security architecture.”