Security Researchers Discovered Crimea Manifesto Buried in VBA Rat

 

On Thursday, Hossein Jazi and the Threat Intelligence team at Malwarebytes released a report revealing a new threat actor that may be targeting Russian and pro-Russian individuals. A manifesto regarding Crimea was included by the assailants, implying that the attack was politically motivated. A suspicious document called "Manifest.docx" is used in the attacks, and it downloads and runs two attack vectors: remote template injection and CVE-2021-26411, an Internet Explorer exploit. Malwarebytes' Threat Intelligence team discovered the "Манифест.docx" ("Manifest.docx") on July 21.

"Both techniques have been loaded by malicious documents using the template injection technique. The first template contains a url to download a remote template that has an embedded full-featured VBA Rat. This Rat has several different capabilities including downloading, uploading, and executing files," Jazi said. 

The second template is imported into the document and is included in Document.xml.rels. According to the threat research teams at Google and Microsoft, the loaded code contains an IE Exploit (CVE-2021-26411) that was previously utilized by Lazarus APT to target security researchers working on vulnerability disclosure. The shell code used in this vulnerability loads the same VBA Rat as the remote template injection exploit. 

The attack, according to Jazi, was motivated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which includes Crimea. Cyberattacks on both sides have been on the rise, according to the report. The manifesto and Crimea information, however, might be utilized as a false flag by threat actors, according to Jazi. 

The attackers used a combination of social engineering and the exploit, according to the report, to boost their chances of infecting victims. Malwarebytes was unable to pin the assault on a single actor but said that victims were shown a decoy document with a statement from a group linked to a figure named Andrey Sergeevich Portyko, who supposedly opposes Russian President Vladimir Putin's Crimean Peninsula policies. 

The decoy document is loaded after the remote templates, according to Jazi. The document is written in Russian but also has an English translation. A VBA Rat is also included in the attack, which collects victim information, identifies the AV product installed on the victim's workstation, runs shell-codes, deletes files, uploads and downloads files, and reads disc and file system information. Instead of using well-known API calls for shell code execution, which can easily be flagged by AV products, the threat actor employed the unique EnumWindows to run its shell-code, according to Jazi.