A hacker group believed to have ties to Russia had targeted dozens of the US state and local governments and aviation networks since September this year. That’s according to a joint security advisory released Thursday by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The two agencies said that since at least September the threat actor, tracked as Berserk Bear, Energetic Bear, TeamSpy, Dragonfly, Havex, Crouching Yeti, and Koala, has tried to break into various U.S. state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) government networks, as well as aviation networks. In some instances intrusion resulted in successful compromise of network infrastructure, and as of October 1, 2020, the hackers stole data from at least two victim servers.
The hackers gain initial access to the victim network using user and administrator credentials obtained via brute force attacks. The threat actor has been observed using Turkish IP addresses (213.74.101[.]65, 213.74.139[.]196, and 212.252.30[.]170) to attempt brute force logins and conduct SQL injection attacks.
The hackers also conducted scans for vulnerable Citrix and Microsoft Exchange servers, likely for further exploitation. The advisory said the attackers continue to exploit a Citrix Directory Traversal bug (CVE-2019-19781) and a Microsoft Exchange remote code execution flaw (CVE-2020-0688), as well as a Fortinet VPN vulnerability (CVE-2018-13379). In addition, the hackers has been observed using a recently disclosed (and patched) Windows Netlogon vulnerability (CVE-2020-1472) to obtain access to Windows Active Directory (AD) servers and elevate privileges.
Once in the network the attackers search for high value assets in order to exfiltrate data, the two agencies said. In at least one compromise the malicious actor gained access to documents related to sensitive network configurations and passwords, standard operating procedures (SOP), IT instructions, such as requesting password resets, vendors and purchasing information, printing access badges.
So far, there is no evidence that the threat actor has intentionally disrupted any aviation, education, elections, or government operations, the FBI and the CISA said.