The cyber espionage crew has been active since at least 2007, the hackers launched several high-profile attacks against targets worldwide, including the ones aimed at Swiss defense firm RUAG and the U.S. Central Command.
The hackers targeted government entities, embassies, military organizations, research and academic institutions, large corporations and also intelligence agencies.
“Researchers who have previously analyzed compromises where Snake was used have attributed the attacks to Russia. Compared to other prolific attackers with alleged ties to Russia, such as APT28 (Fancy Bear) and APT29 (Cozy Bear), Snake’s code is significantly more sophisticated, it’s infrastructure more complex and targets more carefully selected.” reads the analysis published by the security firm Fox-IT.
“The framework has traditionally focused on the Windows operating system, but in 2014 the first Linux variant was observed. Now, Fox-IT has identified a version of Snake targeting Mac OS X.”
According to the experts, the malicious code used by the Snake APT group is more sophisticated than the ones used by other Russian threat actors, including the notorious APT 28 and APT29.
“Compared to other prolific attackers with alleged ties to Russia, such as APT28 (Fancy Bear) and APT29 (Cozy Bear), Snake’s code is significantly more sophisticated, it’s infrastructure more complex and targets more carefully selected,” said the researchers.
The Snake malware was originally developed to target Windows systems, later in 2014, malware experts from Kaspersky Lab spotted a Linux variant of the malicious code.
The Fox-IT researchers recently spotted a macOS version of the Snake malware that still included artefacts referencing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in the code, a circumstance that confirms it is a porting from the Windows version. The Russian hackers are improving their arsenal to target Apple users.
The researchers believe the malware is in a testing phase because they haven’t seen the macOS sample being distributed in the wild.
“Several strings found throughout the binary indicate that this version is in fact a debug build”
The Snake macOS sample discovered by the malware researchers at Fox-IT masquerades as a Flash Player installer and is signed with a legitimate Apple code signing certificate, likely stolen by the APT. It obtains persistence via Apple’s LaunchDaemon service.
“The Snake binary comes inside of a ZIP archive named Adobe Flash Player.app.zip which is a backdoored version of Adobe’s Flash Player installer.” continues the analysis.
Fox-IT reported its discovery to the Apple security team.
(Security Affairs – KONNI malware, North Korea)