APT-17, also known as “Bitter APT” or “DeputyDog” is a suspected South Asian hacking group. They have been active since at least 2012 and have primarily targeted organizations in the aerospace, defense, and technology industries. They are known for targeting China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia and have expanded to set their sights on Bangladeshi government agencies. The group is known for using a wide range of custom malware and tools to carry out their operations, including Remote Access Trojans (RATs), keyloggers, and backdoors. The group’s malware is known to be complex, and multi-stage and used a range of techniques to evade detection, such as code signing, the use of legitimate tools and third-party tools, and the use of encrypted communications. They are also known to use spear-phishing campaigns to gain initial access to targeted systems. They have been active for more than a decade and are known to use a wide range of custom malware and tools to carry out their operations. Organizations in these sectors should be aware of the threat actors and take appropriate measures to protect against their attacks. This includes implementing robust security measures, such as advanced threat detection and response capabilities, as well as employee training on how to identify and respond to spear-phishing campaigns. The group was observed using Powershell and curl instead of msiexe in one of the latest campaigns.
In a previous campaign conducted by this state-sponsored cyber espionage group, the attackers employed a malicious document named “Proposed Deliveries for JCC 11th and High-Level Visit.rar.” This document serves as a crucial component of their cyber attack strategy.
The attackers have carefully designed the document to give the impression that it pertains to proposed deliveries related to the 11th session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) and a high-level visit. The purpose is to entice unsuspecting individuals, particularly those involved in the targeted organizations, into opening the file.
In the latest campaign attributed to the Bitter APT group, they have been observed using files named “Nomination for Transnational Security Cooperation Workshop.rar” and “Nomination for Transnational Security Cooperation Workshop.xlsx.”