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Kaspersky Lab Identifies Operation "Red October," An Advanced Cyber-Espionage Campaign Targeting Diplomatic And Government Institutions Worldwide

The attackers created a multi-functional attack platform that includes several extensions and malicious files designed to quickly adjust to different systems' configurations and harvest intelligence from infected machines. The platform is unique to Rocra and has not been identified by Kaspersky Lab in previous cyber-espionage campaigns. Notable characteristics include:

  • "Resurrection" module: A unique module that enables the attackers to "resurrect" infected machines. The module is embedded as a plug-in inside Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office installations and provides the attackers a foolproof way to regain access to a target system if the main malware body is discovered and removed, or if the system is patched. Once the C2s are operational again the attackers send a specialized document file (PDF or Office document) to victims' machines via e-mail which will activate the malware again.
  • Advanced cryptographic spy-modules: The main purpose of the spying modules is to steal information. This includes files from different cryptographic systems, such as Acid Cryptofiler, which is known to be used in organisations of NATO, the European Union, European Parliament and European Commission since the summer of 2011 to protect sensitive information.
  • Mobile Devices: In addition to targeting traditional workstations, the malware is capable of stealing data from mobile devices, such as smartphones (iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile). The malware is also capable of stealing configuration information from enterprise network equipment such as routers and switches, as well as deleted files from removable disk drives.

Attacker identification: Based on the registration data of C2 servers and the numerous artifacts left in executables of the malware, there is strong technical evidence to indicate the attackers have Russian-speaking origins. In addition, the executables used by the attackers were unknown until recently, and were not identified by Kaspersky Lab's experts while analyzing previous cyber-espionage attacks.

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