Menu
Pawn Storm cyberespionage group increases activity, targets NATO

Pawn Storm cyberespionage group increases activity, targets NATO

New attacks were observed this year from the group, including against people with links to the White House

Even though its activities were exposed last year, a cyberespionage group dubbed Pawn Storm has ramped up its efforts over the past few months, targeting NATO members and potentially the White House.

The first quarter of this year "has seen a great deal of activity from the group," researchers from antivirus firm, Trend Micro, said in a blog post. "Most notably this involved setting up dozens of exploit URLs and a dozen new command-and-control (C&C) servers targeting NATO members and governments in Europe, Asia and the Middle East."

The group has been active since at least 2007, and it has targeted military and government entities, defense contractors and media organizations. It uses several attack methods against potential victims, including spear phishing emails with malicious attachments, Web-based exploits launched from compromised websites and fake Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA) login pages.

Trend Micro documented the group's attacks in October 2014, revealing its main information-stealing tool is a malware program called Sednit, or Sofacy. The group's targets included military, government and media organizations in the U.S. and its allies, as well as Kremlin critics and Ukrainian activists and military. This led to speculation that Pawn Storm might serve the interests of the Russian government.

Some new Pawn Storm email attacks no longer include malicious attachments, but links to alleged news articles about geopolitical events. Those links lead to rogue websites that ask visitors to install a browser add-on allegedly needed to view HTML5 video content.

"The add-on in question turns out to be a version of X-Agent or Fysbis spyware if you're a Linux user, and Sednit if you're running Windows," the Trend Micro researchers said.

The group has also continued its phishing attacks using fake Microsoft OWA login pages, with some of the new targets being a large U.S. company that sells nuclear fuel to power stations, the armed forces of two European NATO members and the NATO Liaison in Ukraine.

The White House might also have been targeted, but indirectly. In January, the Pawn Storm group targeted two popular YouTube bloggers with Gmail phishing attacks, several days after they had interviewed President Barack Obama at the White House, the Trend Micro researchers said.

"This is a classic island hopping technique, in which attackers focus their efforts not on the actual target but on companies or people that might interact with that target, but which may have weaker security in place," they said. "In a similar way, a well-known military correspondent for a large U.S. newspaper was hit via his personal email address in December 2014, probably leaking his credentials. Later that month Operation Pawn Storm attacked around 55 employees of the same newspaper on their corporate accounts."


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwarespywaretrend microintrusion

Featured

Slideshows

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

More than 500 channel leaders gathered in Auckland on 21 October at the ​Reseller News Innovation Awards ​2020 to celebrate the achievements of the New Zealand technology industry's top partners, start-ups, vendors, distributors and individuals.

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners
Meet the winners of the 2020 Reseller News Innovation Awards

Meet the winners of the 2020 Reseller News Innovation Awards

Reseller News honoured the standout players of the New Zealand channel in front of more than 500 technology leaders in Auckland on 21 October, recognising the achievements of top partners, start-ups, vendors, distributors and individuals.

Meet the winners of the 2020 Reseller News Innovation Awards
Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Show Comments