Suspected gov hackers behind ‘watering hole’ attacks in Hong Kong – Security

Maria J. Danford

Google’s Menace Examination Group (TAG) has discovered “watering hole” attacks with malware deployed on to Hong Kong sites, which include a media outlet and a prominent pro-democracy and political team.

The malware was located in August this yr and TAG located a root superuser privilege escalation exploit for the macOS Catalina running procedure XNU kernel, which would attempt to download and put in a backdoor on targets’ personal computers.

Only Intel-centered Macs operating macOS Catalina were served a total exploit chain later on macOS versions this sort of as Massive Sur triggered the exploit to crash due to Apple’s generic protection protections.

The code for the exploit is state-of-the-art, and highly obfuscated to make assessment a lot more challenging.

“We consider this risk actor to be a perfectly-resourced team, possible point out backed, with obtain to their very own application engineering staff centered on the high-quality of the payload code,” Erye Hernandez from Google TAG wrote.

Google TAG did not immediately attribute the attacks to a certain country or hacking team.

TAG explained Apple’s mobile iOS running procedure was also specific by the attackers, using the Ironsquirrel framework to produce encrypted exploits to victims’ browsers, a diverse tactic as opposed to macOS.

Nonetheless, TAG was not in a position to capture a total iOS exploit chain, only a partial a person in which a bug from 2019 was made use of for distant code execution in the Safari world wide web browser.

Among the the options in the backdoor were target system fingerprinting, display screen capture, file transfers, terminal command execution, audio recording and keystroke logging.

Apple patched the vulnerability in September this yr.

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