Slingshot APT: Riding On A Hardware Trojan Horse

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Earlier this year, researchers from Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit (SAS) issued a report on a highly sophisticated cyberespionage campaign called Slingshot. What makes this initial attack vector unique is that many victims were attacked through compromised routers made by MikroTik. Routers download and run various DLL files in the normal course of business. Attackers found a way to compromise the devices by adding a malicious DLL to an otherwise legitimate package of other DLLs. The bad DLL was a downloader for various malicious files, which were also stored in the router. Christopher Day, Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Cyxtera commented below.

Christopher Day, Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Cyxtera:

“News about the Slingshot cyberespionage campaign underscores vulnerabilities common in traditional network security designs. In this event, routers were infected by attackers who then deployed a variety of malware to grab credentials of administrators as they logged in to configure the equipment. With this level of access, attackers were able to move laterally across their victims’ networks – lying undetected for years. The challenge of detecting and stopping these types of attacks is great. First, few perimeter security tools can detect suspicious router activity. Once admin credentials are compromised, all resource are at risk.

“If we’re to combat these types of attacks in the future we must ensure that we’re locking down network access at the user level, not the IP address. Since perimeter-based tools are not designed to do that, we must look toward more innovative approaches like those provided by Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) technology. SDP only grants users access to resources in which they are explicitly authorized to access. All other network resources are invisible. In the case of the Slingshot attack, SDP would have significantly reduced the attack surface.”

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