Spy spotting : What careless mistakes reveal about cyberespionage in APAC

Errors and small clues left behind by attackers are vital in attribution, providing valuable intelligence on the people behind a cyberespionage attack and the possible connections between them. Kaspersky Lab’s researchers have been tracking advanced cyberespionage operations originating in and targeting Asia Pacific countries for the last 10 years, and have undertaken a review of the contribution made by attackers’ careless mistakes.

For example a threat actor called Dropping Elephant, likely operating from India, reported by Kaspersky Lab in July 2016, targeted high profile diplomatic and economic entities in countries including Australia, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan and more. Clues revealed traces of three individuals where one in particular carelessly disclosed a personal document that led Kaspersky Lab researchers to find the faces behind Dropping Elephant.

Kaspersky Lab also published a report on Naikon APT in 2015. This cyberespionage campaign has been tracking geo-political intelligence in countries around the South China Sea for over half a decade, Later that year, an alleged connection discovered by ThreatConnect researchers showed a domain name used in Naikon APT, was also found across several social media accounts. These social media accounts carried more than 700 posts and 500 photos which enabled researchers to track down an official’s real location and work address.

What careless mistakes and clues reveal about the individuals involved in cyber espionage?

– Apparent military connections
– Organisations engaged in undercover threat activity for State Security
– Private companies offering intelligent services
– Cyberespionage campaigns that consist of a variety of people with different skilled roles and responsibilities

Senior Security Researcher, Noushin Shabab says, “Cybersecurity researchers examine cyberespionage campaigns by chasing trails of clues and careless mistakes. Once we have all the necessary pieces of the puzzle, we share evidences with fellow experts to be able to know the spies behind an attack, their main objectives and techniques, All the historic information gathered through investigating targeted attacks, helps us discover the truths and the myths of cyberespionage in the Asia Pacific region,” says Shabab. General Manager ANZ, Anastasia Para Rae adds, ‘As cyberespionage and crime increases, it’s critical for organisations and experts to share cutting-edge knowledge’. We continue to witness the development of many attacks with no regard for the social or financial impact. The fact is,

cyber spies will continue to take advantage of social engineering and open source data to develop sophisticated attacks. Investment in prompt and detailed information will better defend our businesses and ensure we can detect and respond to attacks. Kaspersky Lab’s Anti Targeted Attack Platform defends businesses from a multitude of threats every single time, no matter what form the attack takes.”…Click HERE to read full article.