Chinese Redfly Group Compromised a Nation's Critical Grid in 6-Month ShadowPad Campaign

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Sep 12, 2023THNCritical Infrastructure Security

ShadowPad Campaign

A menace histrion called Redfly has been linked to a compromise of a nationalist grid located successful an unnamed Asian state for arsenic agelong arsenic six months earlier this twelvemonth utilizing a known malware referred to arsenic ShadowPad.

"The attackers managed to bargain credentials and compromise aggregate computers connected the organization's network," the Symantec Threat Hunter Team, portion of Broadcom, said successful a study shared with The Hacker News. "The onslaught is the latest successful a bid of espionage intrusions against [critical nationalist infrastructure] targets."

ShadowPad, besides known arsenic PoisonPlug, is simply a follow-up to the PlugX distant entree trojan and is simply a modular implant susceptible of loading further plugins dynamically from a distant server arsenic required to harvest delicate information from breached networks.

It has been widely used by a increasing database of China-nexus nation-state groups since astatine slightest 2019 successful attacks aimed astatine organizations successful assorted manufacture verticals.


"ShadowPad is decrypted successful representation utilizing a customized decryption algorithm," Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) noted successful February 2022. "ShadowPad extracts accusation astir the host, executes commands, interacts with the record strategy and registry, and deploys caller modules to widen functionality."

The earliest motion of an onslaught targeting the Asian entity is said to person been recorded connected February 23, 2023, erstwhile ShadowPad was executed connected a azygous computer, followed by moving the backdoor 3 months aboriginal connected May 17.

Also deployed astir the aforesaid clip was a instrumentality called Packerloader that's utilized to execute arbitrary shellcode, utilizing it to modify permissions for a operator record known arsenic dump_diskfs.sys to assistance entree to each users, raising the anticipation that the operator whitethorn person been utilized to make record strategy dumps for aboriginal exfiltration.

The menace actors person further been observed moving PowerShell commands to stitchery accusation connected the retention devices attached to the system, dump credentials from Windows Registry, portion simultaneously clearing information lawsuit logs from the machine.

"On May 29, the attackers returned and utilized a renamed mentation of ProcDump (file name: alg.exe) to dump credentials from LSASS," Symantec said. "On May 31, a scheduled task is utilized to execute oleview.exe, mostly apt to execute side-loading and lateral movement."

It's suspected that Redfly utilized stolen credentials successful bid to propagate the corruption to different machines wrong the network. After astir a two-month hiatus, the adversary reappeared connected the country to instal a keylogger connected July 27 and erstwhile again extract credentials from LSASS and the Registry connected August 3.

Symantec said the run shares infrastructure and tooling overlaps with antecedently identified enactment attributed to the Chinese state-sponsored radical referred to arsenic APT41 (aka Winnti), with Redly astir exclusively focusing connected targeting captious infrastructure entities.


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However, determination is nary grounds that the hacking outfit has staged immoderate disruptive attacks to date.

"Threat actors maintaining a long-term, persistent beingness connected a nationalist grid presents a wide hazard of attacks designed to disrupt powerfulness supplies and different captious services successful different states during times of accrued governmental tension," the institution said.

The improvement comes arsenic Microsoft revealed that China-affiliated actors are honing successful connected AI-generated ocular media for usage successful power operations targeting the U.S. arsenic good arsenic "conducting quality postulation and malware execution against determination governments and industries" successful the South China Sea portion since the commencement of the year.

"Raspberry Typhoon [formerly Radium] consistently targets authorities ministries, subject entities, and firm entities connected to captious infrastructure, peculiarly telecoms," the tech elephantine said. "Since January 2023, Raspberry Typhoon has been peculiarly persistent."

Other targets see the U.S. defence concern basal (Circle Typhoon / DEV-0322, Mulberry Typhoon / Manganese, and Volt Typhoon / DEV-0391), U.S. captious infrastructure, authorities entities successful Europe and the U.S. (Storm-0558), and Taiwan (Charcoal Typhoon / Chromium and Flax Typhoon / Storm-0919).

It besides follows a report from the Atlantic Council that a Chinese law requiring companies operating successful the state to disclose information flaws successful their products to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) allows the state to stockpile the vulnerabilities and assistance authorities hackers "increase operational tempo, success, and scope."

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