Wearables Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, David Paquette, Carmen Gonzalez

News Feed Item

Kaspersky Lab Identifies Operation "Red October," an Advanced Cyber-Espionage Campaign Targeting Diplomatic and Government Institutions Worldwide

ABINGDON, England, January 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Attackers created unique, highly-flexible malware to steal data and geopolitical intelligence from target victims' computer systems, mobile phones and enterprise network equipment

Today Kaspersky Lab published a new research report  which identified an elusive cyber-espionage campaign targeting diplomatic, governmental and scientific research organisations in several countries for at least five years. The primary focus of this campaign targets countries in Eastern Europe, former USSR Republics and countries in Central Asia, although victims can be found everywhere, including Western Europe and North America. The main objective of the attackers was to gather sensitive documents from the compromised organisations, which included geopolitical intelligence, credentials to access classified computer systems, and data from personal mobile devices and network equipment.

In October 2012 Kaspersky Lab's team of experts initiated an investigation following a series of attacks against computer networks targeting international diplomatic service agencies. A large scale cyber-espionage network was revealed and analysed during the investigation. According to Kaspersky Lab's analysis report, Operation Red October, called "Rocra" for short, is still active as of January 2013, and has been a sustained campaign dating back as far as 2007.

Main Research Findings

Red October's Advanced Cyber-espionage Network: The attackers have been active since at least 2007 and have been focusing on diplomatic and governmental agencies of various countries across the world, in addition to research institutions, energy and nuclear groups, and trade and aerospace targets. The Red October attackers designed their own malware, identified as "Rocra," that has its own unique modular architecture comprised of malicious extensions, info-stealing modules and backdoor Trojans.

The attackers often used information exfiltrated from infected networks as a way to gain entry into additional systems.  For example, stolen credentials were compiled in a list and used when the attackers needed to guess passwords or phrases to gain access to additional systems.

To control the network of infected machines, the attackers created more than 60 domain names and several server hosting locations in different countries, with the majority being in Germany and Russia. Kaspersky Lab's analysis of Rocra's Command & Control (C2) infrastructure shows that the chain of servers was actually working as proxies in order to hide the location of the 'mothership' control server.

Information stolen from infected systems includes documents with extensions: txt, csv, eml, doc, vsd, sxw, odt, docx, rtf, pdf, mdb, xls, wab, rst, xps, iau,  cif, key, crt, cer, hse, pgp, gpg, xia, xiu, xis, xio, xig, acidcsa, acidsca, aciddsk, acidpvr, acidppr, acidssa. In particular, the "acid*" extensions appears to refer to the classified software "Acid Cryptofiler", which is used by several entities, from the European Union to NATO.

Infecting Victims

To infect systems, the attackers sent a targeted spear-phishing email to a victim that included a customised Trojan dropper. In order to install the malware and infect the system the malicious email included exploits that were rigged for security vulnerabilities inside Microsoft Office and Microsoft Excel. The exploits from the documents used in the spear-phishing emails were created by other attackers and employed during different cyber attacks including Tibetan activists as well as military and energy sector targets in Asia. The only thing that was changed in the document used by Rocra was the embedded executable, which the attackers replaced with their own code.  Notably, one of the commands in the Trojan dropper changed the default system codepage of the command prompt session to 1251, which is required to render Cyrillic fonts.  

Targeted Victims & Organisations

Kaspersky Lab's experts used two methods to analyse the target victims. First, they used detection statistics from the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), which is the cloud-based security service used by Kaspersky Lab products to report telemetry and deliver advanced threat protection in the forms of blacklists and heuristic rules. KSN had been detecting the exploit code used in the malware as early as 2011, which enabled Kaspersky Lab's experts to search for similar detections related to Rocra. The second method used by Kaspersky Lab's research team was creating a sinkhole server so they could monitor infected machines connecting to Rocra's C2 servers. The data received during the analysis from both methods provided two independent ways of correlating and confirming their findings.

  • KSN statistics: Several hundred unique infected systems were detected by the data from KSN, with the focus being on multiple embassies, government networks and organisations, scientific research institutes and consulates. According to KSN's data, the majority of infections that were identified were located  primarily in Eastern Europe, but other infections were also identified in North America and countries in Western Europe, as Switzerland and Luxembourg.
  • Sinkhole statistics: Kaspersky Lab's sinkhole analysis took place from November 2nd, 2012 - January 10th, 2013. During this time more than 55,000 connections from 250 infected IP addresses were registered in 39 countries. The majority of infected IP connections were coming from Switzerland, followed by Kazakhstan and Greece.

Rocra malware: unique architecture and functionality

The attackers created a multi-functional attack platform that includes several extensions and malicious files designed to quickly adjust to different systems' configurations and harvest intelligence from infected machines. The platform is unique to Rocra and has not been identified by Kaspersky Lab in previous cyber-espionage campaigns. Notable characteristics include:

  • "Resurrection" module: A unique module that enables the attackers to "resurrect" infected machines. The module is embedded as a plug-in inside Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office installations and provides the attackers a foolproof way to regain access to a target system if the main malware body is discovered and removed, or if the system is patched. Once the C2s are operational again the attackers send a specialized document file (PDF or Office document) to victims' machines via e-mail which will activate the malware again.
  • Advanced cryptographic spy-modules: The main purpose of the spying modules is to steal information. This includes files from different cryptographic systems, such as Acid Cryptofiler, which is known to be used in organisations of NATO, the European Union, European Parliament and European Commission since the summer of 2011 to protect sensitive information.
  • Mobile Devices: In addition to targeting traditional workstations, the malware is capable of stealing data from mobile devices, such as smartphones (iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile). The malware is also capable of stealing configuration information from enterprise network equipment such as routers and switches, as well as deleted files from removable disk drives.

Attacker identification: Based on the registration data of C2 servers and the numerous artifacts left in executables of the malware, there is strong technical evidence to indicate the attackers have Russian-speaking origins. In addition, the executables used by the attackers were unknown until recently, and were not identified by Kaspersky Lab's experts while analyzing previous cyber-espionage attacks.

Kaspersky Lab, in collaboration with international organisations, law enforcement agencies and Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) is continuing its investigation of Rocra by providing technical expertise and resources for remediation and mitigation procedures.

Kaspersky Lab would like to express their thanks to: US-CERT, the Romanian CERT and the Belarusian CERT for their assistance with the investigation.

The Rocra malware is successfully detected, blocked and remediated by Kaspersky Lab's products, classified as Backdoor.Win32.Sputnik.

Read the full research report of Rocra by Kaspersky Lab's experts please visit Securelist.

Kaspersky Lab Newsroom

Kaspersky Lab has launched a new online newsroom, Kaspersky Lab Newsroom Europe (http://newsroom.kaspersky.eu/en), for journalists throughout Europe. The newsroom is specifically designed to serve many of the media's most common requests, making it easier for journalists to find product and corporate information, facts and figures, editorial copy, images, videos and audio files, as well as details about the appropriate PR contacts.

About Kaspersky Lab

Kaspersky Lab is the world's largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions. The company is ranked among the world's top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users*. Throughout its 15-year history Kaspersky Lab has remained an innovator in IT security and provides effective digital security solutions for consumers, SMBs and Enterprises. The company currently operates in almost 200 countries across the globe, providing protection for over 300 million users worldwide. Learn more at http://www.kaspersky.co.uk. For the latest on antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam and other IT security issues and trends, visit: http://www.securelist.com/.

*The company was rated fourth in the IDC rating Worldwide Endpoint Security Revenue by Vendor, 2010. The rating was published in the IDC report Worldwide IT Security Products 2011-2015 Forecast and 2010 Vendor Shares - December 2011. The report ranked software vendors according to earnings from sales of endpoint security solutions in 2010.

© 2013 Kaspersky Lab. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for Kaspersky Lab products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Kaspersky Lab shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Editorial contact:
Berkeley PR    
Ella Thompson    
[email protected]    
Telephone: +44(0)118-909-0909    
1650 Arlington Business Park    
RG7 4SA, Reading    

Kaspersky Lab UK
Ruth Knowles
[email protected]
Telephone: +44(0)871-789-1633

Milton Business Park
OX14 4RY, Oxford

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
If you had a chance to enter on the ground level of the largest e-commerce market in the world – would you? China is the world’s most populated country with the second largest economy and the world’s fastest growing market. It is estimated that by 2018 the Chinese market will be reaching over $30 billion in gaming revenue alone. Admittedly for a foreign company, doing business in China can be challenging. Often changing laws, administrative regulations and the often inscrutable Chinese Interne...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Cloud based infrastructure deployment is becoming more and more appealing to customers, from Fortune 500 companies to SMEs due to its pay-as-you-go model. Enterprise storage vendors are able to reach out to these customers by integrating in cloud based deployments; this needs adaptability and interoperability of the products confirming to cloud standards such as OpenStack, CloudStack, or Azure. As compared to off the shelf commodity storage, enterprise storages by its reliability, high-availabil...
The IoT industry is now at a crossroads, between the fast-paced innovation of technologies and the pending mass adoption by global enterprises. The complexity of combining rapidly evolving technologies and the need to establish practices for market acceleration pose a strong challenge to global enterprises as well as IoT vendors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Clark Smith, senior product manager for Numerex, will discuss how Numerex, as an experienced, established IoT provider, has embraced a ...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...