FBI and CISA joint alert blames Russia’s Energetic Bear APT for US government networks hack

Pierluigi Paganini October 23, 2020

The US government declared that Russia-linked APT group Energetic Bear has breached US government networks and exfiltrated data.

A joint security advisory published by The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that Russia-linked APT group Energetic Bear has breached US government networks and exfiltrated data.

The Energetic Bear APT group (aka DragonFlyCrouching Yeti, TEMP.Isotope, Berserk Bear, TeamSpy, Havex, Koala). has been active since at least 2010 most of the victims of the group are organizations in the energy and industrial sectors.

In March 2018, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a joint technical alert to warn of attacks on US critical infrastructure powered by Russian threat actors. The US-CERT blamed the APT group tracked as DragonflyCrouching Yeti, and Energetic Bear.

This joint advisory provides information on Russia-linked APT actor activity targeting various U.S. state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) government networks, as well as aviation networks. 

Officials said the group has been targeting dozens of US state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) government networks since at least February 2020.

Energetic Bear successfully compromised the infrastructure and as of October 1, 2020, exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers.

“Since at least September 2020, a Russian state-sponsored APT actor—known variously as Berserk Bear, Energetic Bear, TeamSpy, Dragonfly, Havex, Crouching Yeti, and Koala in open-source reporting—has conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets.” reads the advisory. “The Russian state-sponsored APT actor has targeted dozens of SLTT government and aviation networks, attempted intrusions at several SLTT organizations, successfully compromised network infrastructure, and as of October 1, 2020, exfiltrated data from at least two victim servers.”

The Russian-sponsored APT actor uses previously obtained user and administrator credentials to access the target network and then perform lateral movement to locate high-value assets and exfiltrate data. In at least one compromise, the APT actor laterally traversed an SLTT victim network and accessed documents related to sensitive network configurations and passwords, standard operating procedures (SOP), IT instructions, such as requesting password resets, vendors and purchasing information. printing access badges.

This advisory updates another joint CISA-FBI cybersecurity advisory, which warned of attackers combining VPN and Windows Zerologon flaws to target government networks.

The new advisory attributes the cyber attacks to the Russian threat actor and included technical details about the Energetic Bear’s TTPs.

The state-sponsored hackers scanned for vulnerable Citrix (CVE-2019-19781) and Microsoft Exchange services (CVE-2020-0688) and identified vulnerable installs for future exploitation.

According to the technical advisory, Russian hackers used publicly known vulnerabilities to breach networking gear, pivot to internal networks, elevate privileges, and steal sensitive data.

Hackers also targeted Exim mail agents (CVE 2019-10149) and Fortinet SSL VPNs (CVE-2018-13379).

Once gained access to the target networks, Russian hackers moved laterally exploiting the Zerologon vulnerability in Windows Servers (CVE-2020-1472) to access and steal Windows Active Directory (AD) credentials to take over the target’s internal network.

“To date, the FBI and CISA have no information to indicate this APT actor has intentionally disrupted any aviation, education, elections, or government operations. However, the actor may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence US policies and actions, or to delegitimize SLTT government entities,” continues the alert.

“As this recent malicious activity has been directed at SLTT government networks, there may be some risk to elections information housed on SLTT government networks. However, the FBI and CISA have no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised.”

[adrotate banner=”9″][adrotate banner=”12″]

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Energetic Bear)

[adrotate banner=”5″]

[adrotate banner=”13″]

you might also like

leave a comment