Recently Exposed North Korean Threat Actor APT43 Targeting Organizations With Spear Phishing

Phishing CybercriminalsGoogle’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has published a report describing the activities of “ARCHIPELAGO,” a subset of the North Korean state-sponsored threat actor APT43. ARCHIPELAGO’s operators frequently impersonate real journalists or experts in order to make initial contact with their targets.

“ARCHIPELAGO often sends phishing emails where they pose as a representative of a media outlet or think tank and ask North Korea experts to participate in a media interview or request for information (RFI),” TAG says. “The emails prompt recipients to click a link to view the interview questions or RFI. When the recipient clicks, the link redirects to a phishing site that masquerades as a login prompt. The phishing page records keystrokes entered into the login form and sends them to an attacker-controlled URL. After the recipient enters their password, the phishing page redirects to a benign document with contextually appropriate interview questions, or an RFI that would make sense to the recipient based on the content of the original phishing email.”

The threat actors are patient and spend weeks building trust with their targets before attempting to send them malware.

“ARCHIPELAGO invests time and effort to build rapport with targets, often corresponding with them by email over several days or weeks before finally sending a malicious link or file,” TAG says. “In one case, the group posed as a journalist for a South Korean news agency and sent benign emails with an interview request to North Korea experts. When recipients replied expressing interest in an interview, ARCHIPELAGO continued the correspondence over several emails before finally sending a OneDrive link to a password-protected file that contained malware.

The threat actors also use phishing pages that appear to be full browser windows.

“ARCHIPELAGO has also sent links that lead to ‘browser-in-the-browser’ phishing pages,” the researchers write. “The phishing pages present users with a fake browser window rendered inside the actual browser window. The fake browser window displays a URL and a login prompt designed to trick users into thinking they are entering their password into a legitimate login page.”

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Google has the story.

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