Looking Through Muddy Waters: Insight into TTPs of a Middle Eastern Threat Actor
Date: 14th Oct – MondayTime: 10:30-11:00Location: Ballroom A
MuddyWater is a threat actor likely based in Middle East, with known activities since at least the middle of 2017. It targets various individuals, government organizations and industries in many countries all across the Middle East and Central Asia, with the highest intensity of targets in Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Jordan.
Starting with spear phishing emails and macro-powered attachments sent to carefully selected high profile targets, the threat actor attempts to deliver and install various backdoors written in different programming languages to the victims’ computers – all with the purpose of performing cyber espionage. One of these backdoors has interesting capabilities, such as disk wiping, anti-analysis and numerous false flags. To increase stealthiness, C&C communication is forwarded via PHP proxies hosted on hacked websites, creating an asynchronous communication channel. We took advantage of this configuration to monitor the activity of this actor, discovering the identities of some of the victims as well as some commands which attackers attempted to execute on victims’ machines.
In this presentation, we will show the most recent evolution of the tools, tactics and procedures of this threat actor. We will present some examples of targeted documents and the multiple layers of obfuscation added to their payloads. We will also detail the different tools this threat actor uses, and we will propose some ideas on how to prevent and hunt for these threats.