- Aug 17, 2014
The advanced persistent threat (APT) known as Lazarus Group and other sophisticated nation-state actors are actively trying to steal COVID-19 research to speed up their countries’ vaccine-development efforts.
That’s the finding from Kaspersky researchers, who found that Lazarus Group — widely believed to be linked to North Korea — recently attacked a pharmaceutical company, as well as a government health ministry related to the COVID-19 response. The goal was intellectual-property theft, researchers said.
“On Oct. 27, 2020, two Windows servers were compromised at the ministry,” according to a blog posting issued Wednesday. Researchers added, “According to our telemetry, [the pharmaceutical] company was breached on Sept. 25, 2020….[it] is developing a COVID-19 vaccine and is authorized to produce and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.” They added, “These two incidents reveal the Lazarus Group’s interest in intelligence related to COVID-19. While the group is mostly known for its financial activities, it is a good reminder that it can go after strategic research as well.”
In the first instance, the cyberattackers installed a sophisticated malware called “wAgent” on the ministry’s servers, which is fileless (it only works in memory) and it fetches additional payloads from a remote server. For the pharma company, Lazarus Group deployed the Bookcode malware in a likely supply-chain attack through a South Korean software company, according to Kaspersky.
“Both attacks leveraged different malware clusters that do not overlap much,” researchers said. “However, we can confirm that both of them are connected to the Lazarus group, and we also found overlaps in the post-exploitation process.”