Hackers working for the Russian Government have updated their attack techniques. Russian intelligence has been accused by the US and UK governments of carrying out cyber attacks using new techniques after it was exposed that its hackers continue to target governments, organisations and energy providers around the world. 

These new cyber attack techniques, including exploiting vulnerabilities like the recent Microsoft Exchange zero-days, as its hackers continue to target governments, organisations and energy providers around the world.

A joint advisory by, the US Department for Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, FBI and the National Security Agency, as well as the UK National Cyber Security Centre warns organisations about updated Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) used by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR. This group is more often referred to as APT29, Cozy Bear and The Dukes. “The SVR is Russia’s civilian foreign intelligence service. The group uses a variety of tools and techniques to predominantly target overseas governmental, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets globally for intelligence gain… The SVR is a technologically sophisticated and highly capable cyber actor. It has developed capabilities to target organisations globally, including in the UK, US, Europe, NATO member states and Russia’s neighbours”, says the Report.

This comes after cyber security agencies in the US and the UK attributed the SolarWinds attack to Russia’s civilian foreign intelligence service, as well as several campaigns targeting Covid vaccine developers. However,  in an unprecedented BBC interview, the head of the SVR, Sergei Naryshkin, denied responsibility and blamed Western intelligence agencies of carrying out the SolarWinds exploit.

The joint advisory warns that Russian cyber attackers have updated their techniques and procedures in an effort to infiltrate networks and avoid detection, especially when some organisations have attempted to adjust their defences after previous alerts about cyber threats. This includes the attackers using open source tool, Sliver as a means of maintaining access to compromised networks and making use of numerous vulnerabilities.

Sliver is a Red Team tool, a tool used by penetration testers when legally and legitimately testing network security, but in this case is being abused to consolidate access to networks compromised with WellMess and WellMail, custom malware that is associated with SVR attacks.

Despite the often advanced nature of the attacks, the cybersecurity  advisory says that “following basic cyber security principles will make it harder for even sophisticated actors to compromise target networks”.

Russia is  home of many of the most active cyber criminals and the theft, fraud and numerous other crimes they commit appear to be tolerated by the Russian authorities, provided the victims reside in those nations that the Kremlin considers to be enemies.

Source:  Cyber Security Intelligence