APT Group Targets Encryption Software Users

Users in the market for encryption software are generally astute when it comes to security. They’re unlikely to be duped by social engineering ploys.

Ironically, this makes them valuable targets for cybercriminals. According to Kaspersky Lab research, one group of attackers went after more than 1,000 encryption software users in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Clever Misdirection

The attacks, known as StrongPity, emulate the Crouching Yeti advanced persistent threat (APT) activity observed in early 2014, Kaspersky Lab reported.

The attackers behind the Crouching Yeti events turned software installers, such as virtual private network (VPN) and camera software installers, into Trojans that access victims’ networks. StrongPity used the same technique, but it leveraged different software groups. Unlike Crouching Yeti, StrongPity specifically targeted users of encryption installers.

The attacks involved some clever misdirection. The actors launched a website that mimicked the genuine WinRAR site, complete with malicious links that redirected users to malware installers hosted on ralrab.com, a deceptive play on the legitimate URL, rarlab.com. The group hit the Italian support site, which explains why 87 percent of victims were located in Italy, according to the report.

This fake site went the extra mile by generating a recommended package for each individual victim based on browser location and processor capability. Of course, the package contained a tainted version of WinRAR.

Targeting Encryption Software

StrongPity didn’t stop there. The group also created a fake TrueCrypt website in an attempt to mislead visitors. Users who accessed the download website Tamindir were redirected to the phony site, where, again, malicious links awaited.

“The StrongPity droppers were often signed with unusual digital certificates, dropping multiple components that not only provide complete control of the victim system, but effectively steal disk contents and can download components for further collection of various communications and contacts,” Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, wrote on the blog.

In other words, this malware wants to take over your machine and spy on you. It’s simple, really — harden up or be compromised.

Larry Loeb

Principal, PBC Enterprises

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other...