PROMETHIUM and NEODYMIUM APTs used same Zero-Day to Target Turkish citizens

Pierluigi Paganini December 16, 2016

Microsoft discovered two distinct APT groups, PROMETHIUM and NEODYMIUM, that exploited the same Flash Player zero-day flaw on same targets.

Security researchers have discovered two distinct APT groups, PROMETHIUM and NEODYMIUM, that exploited the same Flash Player zero-day vulnerability (CVE-2016-4117) in cyber espionage campaigns on Turkish citizens living in Turkey and various other European countries. Both groups exploited the flaw before its public disclosure and against the same type of targets.

We have already read about the activities of the PROMETHIUM APT group in a report published by Kaspersky Lab that named it StrongPity. In October, Kaspersky published a report on cyber espionage activities conducted by StrongPity APT that most targeted Italians and Belgians with watering holes attacks.

The experts noticed many similarities in the operation of both groups, a circumstance that suggests a possible link between them. The ATP groups used different infrastructure and malware, but there are some similarities that indicate a possible connection at a higher organizational level.

The flaw was patched by Adobe on May 12, but according to the experts from the firm Recorded Future published a report on the most common vulnerabilities used by threat actors in the exploit kits.

The PROMETHIUM APT has been active since at least 2012, the hackers used instant messaging applications as the attack vector and shared malicious links that pointed to documents to exploit the CVE-2016-4117 vulnerabilities. Microsoft observed that the attacker used a specific strain of malware dubbed Truvasys that was designed to compromise target devices with Turkish locale settings.

“The attack itself began with certain individuals receiving links in instant messenger clients. These links led to malicious documents that invoked exploit code and eventually executed a piece of malware called Truvasys on unsuspecting victims’ computers” states the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.

The PROMETHIUM APT also used another malware dubbed Myntor in targeted attacks.

The NEODYMIUM also exploited the CVE-2016-4117 flaw in targeted attacks in May via spear-phishing messages. This second APT leveraged a backdoor, dubbed Wingbird, that shows many similarities with surveillance software FinFisher.

“NEODYMIUM used a backdoor detected by Windows Defender as Wingbird, whose characteristics closely match FinFisher, a government-grade commercial surveillance package. Data about Wingbird activity indicates that it is typically used to attack individuals and individual computers instead of networks” continues the Report.


The vast majority of the NEODYMIUM victims was located in Turkey (80%), but several infections were also detected in the U.S., Germany and the U.K.

Let me suggest reading the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report to have more details on PROMETHIUM and NEODYMIUM, including indicators of compromise (IoC).

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Pierluigi Paganini


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