Israel announced to have foiled an attempted cyber-attack on defence firms

Pierluigi Paganini August 13, 2020

Israel ‘s defence ministry announced to have foiled an attempted cyber attack by a foreign threat actors group targeting the country’s defence manufacturers.

The Israeli defence ministry announced on Wednesday that it had foiled a cyber attack carried out by a foreign threat actor targeting the country’s defence manufacturers.

According to the officials, the attack was launched by “an international cyber group called ‘Lazarus.’ The Lazarus APT is linked to North Korea, the activity of the Group surged in 2014 and 2015, its members used mostly custom-tailored malware in their attacks. The group has been linked to several major cyber attacks, including the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, several SWIFT banking attacks since 2016, and the 2017 WannaCry ransomware infection.

Recently Kaspersky experts reported that Lazarus APT Group has used a new multi-platform malware framework, dubbed MATA, to target entities worldwide.

The Israeli statement did not explicitly refer to the government of Pyongyang and did not provide details about the attack (the targeted companies, data of the attack).

“The cyber-attacks were identified in real time, and thwarted,” the defence ministry told AFP. “no harm or disruption” was caused it added.

In September, the US Treasury placed sanctions on three North Korea-linked hacking groups, the Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andarial.

In March the US Treasury sanctioned two Chinese citizens that were also suspected of working with Lazarus Group, they were also accused for the April 2018 hack of an unnamed crypto-currency exchange.

The attackers launched spear-phishing attacks against employees of the targeted firms, the messages impersonated managers, CEOs and leading officials in HR departments.

“the attackers impersonated managers, CEOs and leading officials in HR departments… and contacted employees of leading defence industries in Israel.” continues the Israeli defence ministry statement said.

The attack aimed at stealing sensitive data from the employees’ computers.

Israel continues to be under attack from foreign hackers, in April an attack hit an Israeli water facility attempting to modify water chlorine levels. In June, officials from the Water Authority revealed two more cyber attacks on other facilities in the country.

Two cyber-attacks took place in June and according to the officials, they did not cause any damage to the targeted infrastructure.

One of the attacks hit agricultural water pumps in upper Galilee, while the other one hit water pumps in the central province of Mateh Yehuda.

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate announced to have received reports of cyber attacks aimed at supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems at wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewage facilities.

Organizations are recommended to implement supplementary security measures to protect SCADA systems used in the water and energy sectors. The government urges to immediately change the passwords of control systems exposed online, ensure that their software is up to date, and reduce their exposure online.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Israel)

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