Ukraine: Belarusian APT group UNC1151 targets military personnel with spear phishing

Pierluigi Paganini February 25, 2022

The CERT of Ukraine (CERT-UA) warned of a spear-phishing campaign targeting Ukrainian armed forces personnel.

The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) is warning of an ongoing spear-phishing campaign targeting private email accounts belonging to Ukrainian armed forces personnel.

The Ukrainian agency attributes the campaign to the Belarus-linked cyberespionage group tracked as UNC1151.

In mid-January, the government of Kyiv attributed the defacement of tens of Ukrainian government websites to Belarusian APT group UNC1151. Defaced websites were displaying the following message in Russian, Ukrainian and Polish languages.

“Ukrainian! All your personal data has been sent to a public network. All data on your computer is destroyed and cannot be recovered. All information about you stab (public, fairy tale and wait for the worst. It is for you for your past, the future and the future. For Volhynia, OUN UPA, Galicia, Poland and historical areas.” reads a translation of the message.

In November 2021, Mandiant Threat Intelligence researchers linked the Ghostwriter disinformation campaign (aka UNC1151) to the government of Belarus. In August 2020, security experts from FireEye uncovered a disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting NATO by spreading fake news content on compromised news websites. According to FireEye, the campaign tracked as GhostWriter, has been ongoing since at least March 2017 and is aligned with Russian security interests.

Unlike other disinformation campaigns, GhostWriter doesn’t spread through social networks, instead, threat actors behind this campaign abused compromised content management systems (CMS) of news websites or spoofed email accounts to disseminate fake news.

Now Serhiy Demedyuk, deputy secretary of the national security and defence council, told Reuters, that the Ukrainian government blamed the UNC1151 APT group. Demedyuk explained that the attacks were carried out to cover for more destructive actions behind the scenes. 

The nation-state group is using the compromised accounts to target contacts in the victims’ address books. Attackers spear-phishing messages have been sent from email accounts using the domains i[.]ua-passport[.]space and id[.]bigmir[.]space.

The phishing messages used a classic social engineering technique in the attempt to trick victims into providing their information to avoid the permanent suspension of their email accounts.

The phishing attacks are also targeting Ukrainian citizens, reported the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP).

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, SIM swapping)

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