Hackers ChamelGang attacks energy complex and aviation industry

A new APT group known as ChamelGang has attacked the fuel and energy complex and aviation industry in Russia, researchers at the Positive Technologies Expert Security Center (PT ESC) revealed.
GE Aviation for airline technologyAdditional attacks targeted institutions in 9 other countries, including the United States, India, Nepal, Taiwan, and Japan. In some cases, researchers discovered compromised government servers. The group has started exploiting ProxyShell vulnerabilities in attacks to infect Microsoft Exchange. It’s possible that vulnerable servers in the UK could be affected in the future as well.

ChamelGang is focusing on stealing data from compromised networks, and its first trusted relationship attacks 1 were registered in March 2021.

Attackers can penetrate the corporate network of an industrial enterprise more than 90 percent of the time, and almost every such invasion leads to complete loss of control over the IT infrastructure. More than half of these attacks lead to the theft of data on company partners and employees, mail correspondence, and internal documentation.

The PT ESC incident response team discovered the existence of ChamelGang while investigating security vulnerabilities in the Russian fuel/energy and aviation production sectors.

ChamelGang had compromised a subsidiary organization using a vulnerable version of a web application on the open source JBoss Application Server platform. By exploiting vulnerability CVE-2017-12149 (which had been fixed by RedHat more than four years ago), the criminals were able to remotely execute commands on the node.

Two weeks later, the hacking group compromised the parent company as well. The attackers obtained the dictionary password of the local administrator on one of the servers in an isolated segment, and penetrated the network via the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

The attackers remained unnoticed in the corporate network for three months; after examining it, they gained control over most of it, including critical servers and nodes in different segments. The APT group was specifically pursuing data, and succeeded in stealing it.

The attackers exploited a chain of related vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange (CVE-2021-34473, CVE-2021-34523, CVE-2021-31207) called ProxyShell. This became public last month, and ever since it has been actively exploited by other APT groups.

The attackers gained access to the company’s mail servers using a backdoor that had not been detected by most antivirus tools at the time of the attack. The attackers were inside the target organization’s infrastructure for only eight days, and didn’t have the time to cause much harm.

One distinctive feature of ChamelGang’s attacks is the use of new malware: ProxyT, BeaconLoader, and the DoorMe backdoor. The latter is a passive backdoor, which significantly complicates its detection. The group also uses better-known variants such as FRP, Cobalt Strike Beacon, and Tiny shell.