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Emissary Panda targets Middle East governments with webshells on Sharepoint servers

Palo Alto’s Unit 42: Emissary Panda Chinese APT attacked Middle East governments with webshells on sharepoint servers to upload a variety of tools

Emissary Panda Chinese APT is attacking Middle East government sharepoint servers. It has been discovered by Palo Alto’s Unit 42 cyber security experts. According to the researchers, the threat group (AKA APT27, TG-3390, Bronze Union, Lucky Mouse) is installing webshells on Sharepoint servers to compromise Government Organizations of two different countries in the region. It exploits a recently patched vulnerability in Microsoft SharePoint, which is a remote code execution vulnerability used to compromise the server and eventually install a webshell. The actors uploaded a variety of tools that they used to perform additional activities on the compromised network, such as dumping credentials,  as well as locating and pivoting to additional systems on the network. Of particular note is their use of tools to identify systems vulnerable to CVE-2017-0144, the same vulnerability exploited by EternalBlue that is best known for its use in the WannaCry attacks of 2017.

The cyber security experts: The threat actor upload 24 unique executables, from Mimikatz to HyperBro, commonly associated to Emissary Panda

Emissary Panda is active since 2010, targeting organizations worldwide, financial services firms, and national data centers. The group is involved in cyber espionage aimed at new generation weapons and in surveillance activities on dissidents and other civilian groups. According to Palo Alto, the webshell activity agains Middle East governments took place across three SharePoint servers hosted by two different organizations between April 1 and 16, 2019, where actors uploaded a total of 24 unique executables. They range from legitimate applications such as cURL to post-exploitation tools such as Mimikatz. Emissary Panda also uploaded tools to scan for and exploit potential vulnerabilities in the network, such as the well-known SMB vulnerability patched in MS17-010 commonly exploited by EternalBlue to move laterally to other systems on the network. Cyber security expers also observed the chinese actors uploading custom backdoors such as HyperBro, commonly associated with the APT.

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