Suspected Russian DNC hackers brew Mac trojan

Ruskie space program doc used as spear phish payload.

By Darren Pauli


Suspected Russian hackers fingered for hacking the United States Democratic National Committee (DNC) have brewed a trojan targeting Mac OS X machines in the aerospace sector, says Palo Alto researcher Ryan Olson.

The malware relies on social engineering and exploits a well-known vulnerability in the MacKeeper security software to gain access to machines.

Olson says the group known as "Sofacy", "Pawn Storm" and "Fancy Bear", among other names, is thought to be behind attacks leading to the theft and leaking of DNC emails and research documents.

The group is thought to have also hacked NATO and European organisations in the military sector.

"The Sofacy group created the Komplex trojan to use in attack campaigns targeting the OS X operating system – a move that showcases their continued evolution toward multi-platform attacks," Olsen says.

"The tool is capable of downloading additional files to the system, executing and deleting files, as well as directly interacting with the system shell.

"... we believe Komplex has been used in attacks on individuals related to the aerospace industry, as well as attacks leveraging an exploit in MacKeeper to deliver the trojan."

Olsen says the malware is similar to the group's Carberp trojan in a move that could simplify compromise of PC and OS X systems with the same command-and-control server.

It delivers information on a target machine including running processes, user identities, and can execute commands sent from the server.

The trojan is shipped within a PDF document on Russian space projects that executes the malware along with a 17-page document, the latter a ruse to cloak the malware's execution. ®

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