Cyber Criminals Volunteer For War In Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has taken place both on and offline, blending physical devastation with escalating digital warfare and ransomware gangs and other hacking groups of both Russian nd Ukrainian origin have taken to social media to announce where their allegiances lie. 

The infamous cyber criminal group behind Conti ransomware has announced its full support for the Russian government and threatened to strike the critical infrastructure of anyone launching cyber attacks or war actions against Russia. At the same time the Anonymous hacking group has taken sides with Ukraine and is “officially in a cyber war against the Russian government.”

But now other attacking hackers are targeting industrial systems and they are getting more confident in their attack methods. Critical infrastructure, like power generation and distribution, is becoming more complex and reliant on networks of connected devices. Not so long ago, power grids and other critical infrastructure operated in isolation but now they are far more interconnected in terms of geography and across different energy generation sectors, increasing their vulnerability. 

The cyber security company Dragos has released a report detailing how electricity, oil, gas, and other critical infrastructure facilities are being increasingly targeted by cyber attackers who seek to compromise Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and Operational Technology (OT).  

Dragos says that the biggest cyber security weaknesses that European energy producers currently face are a lack of asset visibility into their network and weak network authentication policies. 

Without asset visibility organisations are unable to properly secure their OT environments as defenders cannot protect what they cannot see. Industrial operators should evaluate and implement the principle of least privilege to limit unauthorised access to OT environments. If compromised, ICS and OT can enable attackers to disrupt or tamper with critical services.

The report from Dragos details ten different hacking operations that are known to actively target industrial systems in North America and Europe. Dragos also warned that this malicious activity is likely to grow over the next year.

Among the ten operations includes several state-backed hacking gang such as Electrum/Sandworm, which is linked to the Russian military, and Covellite, which has ties to North Korea’s Lazarus Group. Vanadinite is also on the list and has ties to a hacking group working on behalf of China.

Dragos warns that more and more critical infrastructure is connected to the internet, making it accessible to staff by remote desktop protocols and VPNs. They are increasingly easy and attractive targets for malicious hacking groups interesting in breaching networks.

According to Dragos, the 10 most active threat groups targeting critical infrastructure are: 

  •  Xenotime: a group which targets oil & gas companies in Europe, the United States and Australia. It's easily the most dangerous threat activity publicly known. It is the only activity group intentionally compromising and disrupting industrial safety instrumented systems, which can lead to scenarios involving loss of life and environmental damage.
  • Magnallium: a group which initially targeted oil and gas and aircract companies in Saudi Arabia, which has expanded targeted to Europe and North America. It's thought to be related to APT 33, a state-sponsored Iranian hacking group.   
  • Electrum: this group is capable of developing malware that can modify and control OT procedures and Dragos researchers say this operation was responsible for Crash Override a malware attack on Ukraine's power grid in December 2016. Electrum is associated with Sandworm, an offensive hacking operation that's part of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency. 
  • Allanite: a group which targets enterprise and OT networks in the UK and US electricity sectors, as well as German industrial infrastructure and uses access to conduct reconnaissance on networks to potentially stage future disruptive events. It's believed Allanite is linked to Russia.
  • Chrysene: Active since at least 2017, this group has targeted industrial organisations in Europe and the Middle East, and mainly conducts intelligence gathering operations to potentially facilitate further attacks. Chrysense is suspected to be linked to Iran.
  • Kamacite: a group which has been active since at least 2014 and believed to be responsible for cyber attacks against Ukrainian power facilities in 2015 and 2016. The group is linked to Sandworm.
  • Covellite: a group which has targeted electric utilities in Europe, the US and East Asia using malicious attachments in phishing emails. The group is thought to be linked to the Lazarus Group, a state-backed hacking group working out of North Korea.
  • Vanadinite: A hacking group which targets external-facing, vulnerable software in industrial organisations around the world. It's thought to be linked to APT 41, a state-sponsored Chinese hacking operation.  
  • Parasite: a group which targets utilities, aerospace and oil and gas in Europe, the Middle East and North America. Thee group uses open source tools and known vulnerabilities for initial access. Parasite is suspected to be linked to Iran.
  • Dymalloy: a group which targets electric utilities, oil and gas and other advanced industrial entities across Europe, Turkey and North America. Described as "highly aggressive", Dymalloy looks for long-term persistence in networks and is thought to be linked to Russia.

Although it could take years to conduct a successful attack and understand the intricacies of the OT systems, hackers are most likely working to lay the groundwork for a major attack right now.

Dragos:    Allianz:     Oodaloop:      ZDNet:    The Record:      Ars Technica:     CSO Online:  

You Might Also Read:  

The Importance Of Securing OT Platforms:

 

« Impress Your Cyber Insurance Underwriters With These Essential Tips
EU & US Agree New Data Rules To Replace Privacy Shield »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Our Supplier Directory lists 6,000+ specialist cyber security service providers in 128 countries worldwide. IS YOUR ORGANISATION LISTED?

Clayden Law

Clayden Law

Clayden Law advise global businesses that buy and sell technology products and services. We are experts in information technology, data privacy and cybersecurity law.

Hyper Recruitment Solutions

Hyper Recruitment Solutions

Hyper Recruitment Solutions is a specialist and highly compliant recruitment consultancy dedicated to the Science and Technology sectors.

iLand

iLand

iland is a global cloud service provider of secure and compliant hosting for infrastructure (IaaS), disaster recovery (DRaaS), and backup as a service (BaaS).

Lynx Technology Partners

Lynx Technology Partners

Lynx Technology Partners is a full service, full life-cycle risk-based security consulting firm.

Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber Security Jobs was formed to help job seekers find jobs and recruiters fill cyber security job vacancies.

SYSGO

SYSGO

SYSGO is the leading European provider of real-time operating systems for critical embedded applications in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Caveonix

Caveonix

Caveonix’s RiskForesight TM solution is an automated, proactive risk and compliance platform designed for hybrid and multi-cloud.

Aujus Cybersecurity

Aujus Cybersecurity

Aujas is a pure-play cyber security services company with deep expertise in Identity and Access Management, Managed Security and Security Testing services.

RealCISO

RealCISO

RealCISO is a CISO grade cloud platform to help companies understand, manage, and mitigate their cyber risk.

Quantinuum

Quantinuum

Quantinuum is the combination of Cambridge Quantum with Honeywell Quantum Solutions, structured to drive the future of quantum computing.

Silent Sector

Silent Sector

Silent Sector is a cybersecurity services company that specializes in providing a wide range of managed security services.

Quantexa

Quantexa

Quantexa automates millions of operational decisions, at scale, across multiple business units, including Anti-Money Laundering, Know-Your-Customer, Fraud, Credit Risk and Customer Intelligence.

Exabeam Cyberversity

Exabeam Cyberversity

Exabeam Cyberversity is a philanthropic program to help aspiring cybersecurity professionals navigate career options and increase industry-wide diversity through knowledge sharing and networking.

National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) - Vietnam

National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) - Vietnam

National Cyber Security Center of Vietnam has a central monitoring function and is a technical focal point for monitoring and supporting information security for people, businesses and systems.

Celera Networks

Celera Networks

Celera Networks is a managed services provider specializing in cybersecurity, cloud and managed IT services.

Infinipoint

Infinipoint

Infinipoint pioneers the first Device-Identity-as-a-Service (DIaaS) solution, addressing Zero Trust device access and enabling enterprises of all sizes to automate cyber hygiene.

SCS Technology Solutions

SCS Technology Solutions

SCS Technology Solutions has become the preferred partner for top performing organisations across Lincolnshire for IT support and consultancy.