The French national cyber-security agency ANSSI warned of ongoing attacks against a large number of French organizations conducted by the Chine-linked APT31 cyberespionage group.
The state-sponsored hackers are hijacking home routers to set up a proxy mesh of compromised devices to conceal its attack infrastructure. The campaign began at the beginning of 2021 and is still ongoing, the alert published by the French agency includes a list of 161 IP addresses associated with hijacked devices that were involved in the attack.
The technique allows masquerading the actual source of attacks against France entities.
“ANSSI is currently handling a large intrusion campaign impacting numerous French entities. Attacks are still ongoing and are led by an intrusion set publicly referred as APT31. It appears from our investigations that the threat actor uses a network of compromised home routers as operational relay boxes in order to perform stealth reconnaissance as well as attacks.” reads the alert published by the ANSSI. “As such, indicators of compromises (IOCs) are shared to help assess possible compromises (searches should start at the beginning of 2021) and used in detection services.”
The Government experts shared a list of Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) for these attacks, ANSSI also urges impacted organizations to report any evidence of compromise. Experts pointed out that the network of compromised home routers was involved in both reconnaissance as well as attacks against French organizations.
“It appears from our investigations that the threat actor uses a network of compromised home routers as operational relay boxes in order to perform stealth reconnaissance as well as attacks. As such, indicators of compromises (IOCs) are shared to help assess possible compromises (searches should start at the beginning of 2021) and used in detection services.” concludes the alert.
“Finding one of the IOCs in logs does not mean the entire system has been compromised and further analysis will be required. ANSSI encourages recipients to report additional information about any incident linked to this campaign and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org”
APT31 (aka Zirconium) is a China-linked APT group that was involved in multiple cyber espionage operations, it made the headlines recently after Check Point Research team discovered that the group used a tool dubbed Jian, which is a clone of NSA Equation Group ‘s “EpMe” hacking tool, years before it was leaked online by Shadow Brokers hackers.
This week the U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) indicted four members of the China-linked cyber espionage group APT40 (aka TEMP.Periscope, TEMP.Jumper, and Leviathan) for hacking tens of government organizations, private businesses and universities around the world between 2011 and 2018.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, APT31)