According to security researchers from Trend Micro, the Russia-linked APT28
The APT28 group (aka Fancy Bear, Pawn Storm, Sofacy Group, Sednit, and STRONTIUM) has been active since at least 2007 and it has targeted governments, militaries, and security organizations worldwide. The group was involved also in the string of attacks that targeted 2016 Presidential election.
Most of APT28s’ campaigns leveraged spear-phishing and malware-based attacks, the recent mass scanning activity represents a change in the modus operandi of the group. The nation-state hackers are scanning the entire internet, in search of vulnerable
“This report aims to shed light on some of Pawn Storm’s attacks that did not use malware in the initial stages. It presents new data on the group’s credential phishing, direct probing of webmail and Microsoft Exchange Autodiscover servers, and large-scale scanning activities to search for vulnerable servers.” reads the report published by Trend Micro.
Trend Micro investigated waves of the APT28’s targeted credential phishing attacks and collected thousands of email samples sent out by the group since 2014. In May 2019, the experts noticed that the group started using hacked email addresses of numerous high-profile targets to send credential spam messages.
Most of the abused email servers for the period of May to December 2019 were in
APT28 is likely launching spear-phishing attacks against the employees of legitimate companies to steal their login credentials for corporate email accounts, or performing brute-force attacks to guess email account passwords.
The hackers used the credentials to access the compromised accounts and used them to both
Using this scheme the
“In 2019, Pawn Storm performed daily probes on numerous email servers and Microsoft Exchange Autodiscover servers across the world. The actor group was
Trend Micro also published a list of some of the companies compromised by state-sponsored hackers between August and November 2019.
“If our previous reports on Pawn Storm is any indication, the threat actor group has plenty of resources that allow them to run lengthy campaigns, determined in the pursuit of their targets.” concludes the report. “Their attacks, which range from compromising DNS set