DHS and FBI Warn About New North Korean Malware ELECTRICFISH
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) issued a warning through the US-CERT website about a new malware variant known as ELECTRICFISH. The malware is connected to the North Korean government and their hacking activity. ELECTRICFISH malware was reported via the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) which is a joint venture between DHS and the FBI.
US-CERT’s ELECTRICFISH malware report provides an analysis of a malicious 32-bit Windows executable file. According to the bulletin, “The application is a command-line utility and its primary purpose is to tunnel traffic between two IP addresses. The application accepts command-line arguments allowing it to be configured with a destination IP address and port, a source IP address and port, a proxy IP address and port, and a user name and password, which can be utilized to authenticate with a proxy server. It will attempt to establish TCP sessions with the source IP address and the destination IP address. If a connection is made to both the source and destination IPs, this malicious utility will implement a custom protocol, which will allow traffic to rapidly and efficiently be tunneled between two machines. If necessary, the malware can authenticate with a proxy to be able to reach the destination IP address. A configured proxy server is not required for this utility.”
The U.S. Government refers to malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government as the Hidden Cobra hacking group. Alternative names are given to state-sponsored cyber attacks and hacking activities by other governments and private companies that operate globally. Hidden Cobra, also known as APT38, Lazarus Group, and Guardians of Peace
What is Malware?
Malware is any type of unwanted software, app, or file on a computer system. Malware can reside on computers, routers, servers, or USB flash drives. Types of malware include ransomware, email attachments, or pdf files that contain executable files, ransomware, viruses, or spyware. Adware that resides on a computer to track and serve website adverts is also considered a harmless but intrusive form of malware. Many are familiar with the infamous WannaCry malware that shut down Britain’s public healthcare system last year.
Malware can be delivered through many cyber attack vectors. Phishing and spear phishing emails are one common example. But skilled hackers inject malware into IT systems by obtaining login credentials and delivering the malware with other hacking apps. The U.S. National Security Agency developed EternalBlue, an exploit that still serves as a foundation hacking tool for several malware variants, including WannaCry malware.
North Korean Hacking
North Korea’s hacking group is one of the Advanced Persistent Threat Groups, or APT. Government associated hacking, whether contractors or direct efforts, generally goes by pseudonyms. In the case of North Korea, it’s Lazarus Group, and Guardians of Peace hacking.
APT38 typically hacks to steal money from financial institutions. The hacking group has infiltrated the IT networks of over 16 organizations in at least 11 countries. APT38 is associated with the 2017 WannaCry ransomware cyber attack, the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, and the 2016 SWIFT Banking cyber attack.
How Do I Protect My Computer Against ELECTRICFISH?
Device owners and system administrators should follow best practices to increase security on their devices and networks. Individuals should install malware protection on their devices and keep them up to date with the latest libraries. Individuals and system administrators should keep all devices patched and up to date. Exploiting vulnerabilities in unpatched computers allowed WannaCry to spread across Europe.
- A strong password will help protect against brute force attacks. Avoid using common passwords listed in the top 100, 000 commonly hacked passwords. Enable a firewall on your home and work network. Do not open unsolicited emails from unknown senders
- Beware of emails with attachments or suspicious looking links. Exercise caution when opening e-mail attachments even if the attachment is expected and you believe you know the sender. Phishing emails are a common attack vector for delivering malware
- System administrators should disable File and Printer sharing services. If these services are required, use strong passwords or Active Directory authentication
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers