NetTraveler Cyber-Spying Campaign Swiped Data for Years
The NetTraveler cyber-spying campaign has been linked to a hacking group based in China and has affected more than 350 organizations around the globe.A cyber-espionage operation has been linked to a hacking group based in China that may have been active for as long as a decade. The attack campaign has been dubbed NetTraveler by Kaspersky Lab, and is so named because of an internal string present in early versions of the malware used by the attackers. According to Kaspersky Lab, the operation infected more than 350 businesses and government institutions across the world, including in the United States. The group behind the attack is believed to have been active since 2004—though the highest volume of activity occurred during the past three years. "This malware is used by APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] actors for basic surveillance of their victims," according to a blog post by Kaspersky Lab's Global Research & Analysis Team (GREAT). "Earliest known samples have a timestamp of 2005, although references exist indicating activity as early as 2004. The largest number of samples we observed were created between 2010 and 2013." "Based on collected intelligence, we estimate the group size to about 50 individuals, most of [whom] speak Chinese natively and have working knowledge of the English language. NetTraveler is designed to steal sensitive data as well as log keystrokes, and retrieve file system listings and various Office or PDF documents," the blog post notes.
The attack relied on spear-phishing emails targeted towards a variety of victims, including: oil companies, universities, Tibetan/Uyghur activists and various government and military organizations. The emails were laced with malicious Microsoft Office attachments with titles such as 'Report - Asia Defense Spending Boom.doc' and 'Army Cyber Security Policy 2013.doc.'