56.3 F
Washington D.C.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
spot_img

DoJ Thwarts Botnet Attack by Sofacy Group; ‘VPNFilter’ Targets SOHO Routers

DoJ has announced an effort to disrupt a global botnet of hundreds of thousands of infected home and office (SOHO) routers and other networked devices under the control of a group of actors known as the “Sofacy Group” (also known as “apt28,” “sandworm,” “x-agent,” “pawn storm,” “fancy bear” and “sednit”).

The group, which has been operating since at least in or about 2007, targets government, military, security organizations, and other targets of perceived intelligence value.

Owners of SOHO and NAS devices that may be infected should reboot their devices as soon as possible,  temporarily eliminating the second stage malware and causing the first stage malware on their device to call out for instructions.  Although devices will remain vulnerable to reinfection with the second stage malware while connected to the Internet, these efforts maximize opportunities to identify and remediate the infection worldwide in the time available before Sofacy actors learn of the vulnerability in their command-and-control infrastructure.

The botnet, referred to by the FBI and cyber security researchers as “VPNFilter,” targets SOHO routers and network-access storage (NAS) devices, which are hardware devices made up of several hard drives used to store data in a single location that can be accessed by multiple users.  The VPNFilter botnet uses several stages of malware. Although the second stage of malware, which has the malicious capabilities described above, can be cleared from a device by rebooting it, the first stage of malware persists through a reboot, making it difficult to prevent reinfection by the second stage.

In order to identify infected devices and facilitate their remediation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania applied for and obtained court orders, authorizing the FBI to seize a domain that is part of the malware’s command-and-control infrastructure.  This will redirect attempts by stage one of the malware to reinfect the device to an FBI-controlled server, which will capture the Internet Protocol (IP) address of infected devices, pursuant to legal process. A non-profit partner organization, The Shadowserver Foundation, will disseminate the IP addresses to those who can assist with remediating the VPNFilter botnet, including foreign CERTs and internet service providers (ISPs).

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have also jointly notified trusted ISPs.  The Department and the FBI also encourage users and administrators to review the Cisco blog post on VPNFilter, available HERE, for recommendations and to ensure that their devices are updated with the latest patches.

Assistant Attorney General Demers said: “The Department of Justice is committed to disrupting, not just watching, national security cyber threats using every tool at our disposal, and today’s effort is another example of our commitment to do that. This operation is the first step in the disruption of a botnet that provides the Sofacy actors with an array of capabilities that could be used for a variety of malicious purposes, including intelligence gathering, theft of valuable information, destructive or disruptive attacks, and the misattribution of such activities.”

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles