APT MuddyWater – an Iran-based APT – has been operating since at least 2017. This APT group utilizes the common but efficient infection vector, spear-phishing, to perform their tasks. It has mostly targeted countries in the Middle East but also affected countries in Europe and North America. The majority of the group’s victims are in the telecoms, government (IT services), and oil industries. This group’s activity was formerly related to FIN7, however, it is now regarded to be a separate entity driven by espionage.
MuddyWater’s majority of attacks are based on social engineering. It lures its victims into activating macros so that would infect the targeted workstation. Once macros were turned on, the threat actor’s code would try to download a trojan from an adversarial payload command and control node.
According to U.S. and U.K. federal agencies, MuddyWater is conducting cyber espionage and other malicious cyber operations as part of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), targeting a range of government and private-sector organizations across sectors—including telecommunications, defense, local government, and oil and natural gas—in Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.