Cybersecurity researchers link attackers to the Iranian-backed APT group “Agonizing Serpens,” which has upgraded its capabilities and uses various tools to bypass security measures.
Hackers target and steal sensitive data for various reasons, including:
- Financial gain
- Identity theft
- Cause harm
They may sell the stolen data on the black market, use it for blackmail, or exploit it for fraudulent activities. Unit 42 researchers recently discovered a series of cyberattacks targeting Israeli education and tech sectors, aiming to steal data and render endpoints unusable.
Iranian-linked APT Agonizing Serpens has been active since 2020, using wipers and fake ransomware in attacks targeting Israeli organizations. They aim to steal data and disrupt business continuity, often publishing stolen info on social media.
Here below, we have mentioned the other names of Agonizing Serpens:-
- Pink Sandstorm
Attackers exploited web servers for initial access, deploying web shells. These shells, similar to past Agonizing Serpens attacks, conducted reconnaissance and network mapping using common scanners that are publicly available.
Basic reconnaissance commands via the web shells (Source – Unit 42)
Here below we have mentioned the scanners:-
The attackers attempted to gain admin credentials, but Cortex XDR blocked their methods. Here below we have mentioned all the attempted methods:-
- SMB password spraying
- SMB password brute force
- Dumping the SAM file
The attackers employed Plink (as systems.exe) for lateral movement, aimed at data theft and wiper execution. They used tools like WinSCP and Putty, along with a custom sqlextractor (sql.net4.exe) for exfiltration.
Here below we have mentioned the types of data extracted:-
- ID numbers
- Passport scans
- Full addresses
The attackers tried using WinSCP and pscp.exe for file exfiltration, seeking specific file types containing stolen data.
The group tried to bypass EDR, but Cortex XDR blocked their attempts. They used various known techniques not seen in previous attacks, indicating increased sophistication.
The attackers used a custom tool called agmt.exe, likely derived from drvIX based on the PDB path. Agmt.exe is a custom loader for the GMER driver, AGMT.sys. It can terminate a specified target process by registering and starting the AGMT service.
After failing to exploit the GMER driver, the attackers turned to the drvIX tool, leveraging a new vulnerable driver from a public PoC tool called BadRentdrv2.
Cybersecurity researchers at Unit 42 found the following new wipers and tools used by the operators of the Agonizing Serpens group:-
- MultiLayer wiper
- PartialWasher wiper
- BFG Agonizer wiper
- Sqlextractor – a custom tool to extract information from database servers
Ensure your Cyber Resiliance with the recent wave of cyber-attacks targeting the financial services sector. Almost 60% respondents not confident to recover fully from a cyber attack.
Indicators of Compromise
BFG Agonizer Wiper
GMER Driver Loader – agmt.exe
Rentdrv2 Loader – drvIX.exe
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