SharpPanda, the Chinese advanced persistent (APT) threat actor that has been active since at least 2018, has reinforced its cyber warfare activities. SharpPanda APT attacks and targets Southeast Asian government users with template injection of malicious documents. The attackers use spear-phishing to gain initial access and leverage old Microsoft Office vulnerabilities together with the chain of in-memory loaders to attempt and install a previously unknown backdoor on the victim’s machines. Upon opening the document, it connects back to the hacker’s server to download the payload file.
The campaign that initiates at the beginning of 2022 starts from the distribution of malicious DOCX documents that are sent to different employees of a government entity in Southeast Asia. In some cases, the emails are spoofed to look like they were from other government-related entities. The attachments to these emails are weaponized copies of legitimate-looking official documents and use the remote template technique to pull the next stage from the attacker’s server.