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Hackers in Dprk use Trojanized DeFi Wallet App to Steal Bitcoin

Lazarus is the umbrella name for all state-sponsored North Korean threat operations.

 

North Korean government-linked hackers have now been circulating a trojanized version of a DeFi Wallet for holding bitcoin assets to obtain access to cryptocurrency users' and investors' systems.

Securing economic benefits is one of the primary motives for the Lazarus threat actor, with a focus on the cryptocurrency industry. The Lazarus group's targeting of the financial industry is increasing as the price of cryptocurrencies rises and the appeal of the non-fungible asset (NFT) and decentralized finance (DeFi) enterprises grows.

In this attack, the threat actor used web servers in South Korea to distribute malware and communicate with the implants that had been placed. Kaspersky Lab researchers recently identified a malicious version of the DeFi Wallet software that installed both the legal app and a backdoor disguised as a Google Chrome web browser executable. When the trojanized DeFi application was launched on the machine, it introduced a full-featured backdoor with a compilation date of November 2021. It's unknown how the hackers spread the word, but phishing emails or contacting victims through social media are both possibilities. 

Although it's not clear how the threat actor persuaded the victim to run the Trojanized program (0b9f4612cdfe763b3d8c8a956157474a), it is believed they used a spear-phishing email or social media to contact the victim. The Trojanized application initiates the previously unknown infection technique. This installation package masquerades as DeFi Wallet software, but it actually contains a legal binary that has been packed with the installer. 

The virus installed in this manner, as per the researchers, has "sufficient capabilities to manage" the target host by issuing Windows commands, uninstalling, starting or killing processes, enumerating files and related information, or connecting the computer to a particular IP address. 

The malware operator can also collect relevant data (IP, name, OS, CPU architecture) and the discs (kind, free space available), files from the command and control server (C2), and retrieve a list of files stored in a specified area using additional functionalities. According to Japan CERT, the CookieTime malware group known as LCPDot has been linked to the DPRK operation Dream Job, which enticed victims with phony job offers from well-known firms. 

Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) revealed recent activity related to Dream Job earlier this month, finding North Korean threat actors used a loophole for a zero-day, remote code execution bug in Chrome to aim at people working for media, IT companies, cryptocurrency, and fintech companies. "The CookieTime cluster has linkages with the Manuscrypt and ThreatNeedle clusters, which are also attributed to the Lazarus organization," Kaspersky adds. 

The links between the current trojanized DeFiWallet software and other malware attributed to North Korean hackers go beyond the virus code to the C2 scripts, which overlap many functions and variable names. It's worth mentioning that Lazarus is the umbrella name for all state-sponsored North Korean threat operations. Within the DPRK, however, several threat groups are operating under different institutions/departments of the country's intelligence establishment. 

Mandiant analysts prepared an evaluation of the DPRK's cyber program structure using data collected over 16 months from its digital activity tracking for the entire country, OSINT monitoring, defector reporting, and imaging analysis. Targeting bitcoin heists is certainly within the scope of financially motivated units inside the country's Reconnaissance General Bureau's 3rd Bureau (Foreign Intelligence), according to their map (RGB).   
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