legal contact rss

APT 039

Suspected attribution: Iran

Target sectors: While APT39's targeting scope is global, its activities are concentrated in the Middle East. APT39 has prioritized the telecommunications sector, with additional targeting of the travel industry and IT firms that support it and the high-tech industry.

Associated malware: The group primarily leverages the SEAWEED and CACHEMONEY backdoors along with a specific variant of the POWBAT backdoor.

Overview: We believe APT38’s financial motivation, unique toolset, and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) observed during their carefully executed operations are distinct enough to be tracked separately from other North Korean cyber activity. There are many overlapping characteristics with other operations, known as “Lazarus” and the actor we call TEMP.Hermit; however, we believe separating this group will provide defenders with a more focused understanding of the adversary and allow them to prioritize resources and enable defense. The following are some of the ways APT38 is different from other North Korean actors, and some of the ways they are similar:

Associated malware: A diverse suite of malware for initial intrusion and exfiltration. Along with custom malware used for espionage purposes, APT37 also has access to destructive malware.

Attack vectors: For initial compromise FireEye Intelligence has observed APT39 leverage spearphishing with malicious attachments and/or hyperlinks typically resulting in a POWBAT infection. In some cases previously compromised email accounts have also been leveraged, likely to abuse inherent trusts and increase the chances of a successful attack. APT39 frequently registers and leverages domains that masquerade as legitimate web services and organizations that are relevant to the intended target. Furthermore, this group has routinely identified and exploited vulnerable web servers of targeted organizations to install web shells, such as ANTAK and ASPXSPY, and used stolen legitimate credentials to compromise externally facing Outlook Web Access (OWA) resources. We have not observed APT39 exploit vulnerabilities.





Techniques Used


Domain ID Name Use
Enterprise T1090 Connection Proxy APT39 used custom tools to create SOCK5 proxies between infected hosts.[1]
Enterprise T1003 Credential Dumping APT39 has used Mimikatz, Ncrack, Windows Credential Editor and ProcDump to dump credentials.[1]
Enterprise T1002 Data Compressed APT39 has used WinRAR and 7-Zip to compress an archive stolen data.[1]
Enterprise T1046 Network Service Scanning APT39 used a custom port scanner known as BLUETORCH[1]
Enterprise T1060 Registry Run Keys / Startup Folder APT39 has maintained persistence using the startup folder.[1]
Enterprise T1076 Remote Desktop Protocol APT39 has been seen using RDP for lateral movement and persistence.[1]
Enterprise T1021 Remote Services APT39 used secure shell (SSH) to move laterally among their targets.[1]
Enterprise T1053 Scheduled Task APT39 has created scheduled tasks.[1]
Enterprise T1064 Scripting APT39 utilized custom scripts to perform internal reconnaissance.[1]
Enterprise T1023 Shortcut Modification APT39 has modified LNK shortcuts.[1]
Enterprise T1045 Software Packing APT39 has repacked a modified version of Mimikatz to thwart anti-virus detection.[1]
Enterprise T1193 Spearphishing Attachment APT39 leveraged spearphishing emails with malicious attachments to initially compromise victims.[1]
Enterprise T1192 Spearphishing Link APT39 leveraged spearphishing emails with malicious links to initially compromise victims.[1]
Enterprise T1016 System Network Configuration Discovery APT39 has used nbtscan to discover vulnerable systems.[1]
Enterprise T1033 System Owner/User Discovery APT39 used Remexi to collect usernames from the system.[2]
Enterprise T1204 User Execution APT39 has sent spearphishing emails in an attempt to lure users to click on a malicious attachment or link.[1]
Enterprise T1078 Valid Accounts APT39 has used stolen credentials to compromise Outlook Web Access (OWA).[1]
Enterprise T1100 Web Shell APT39 has installed ANTAK and ASPXSPY web shells.[1]