Threat actors distributing Visual Basic based BabyShark malware that delivered through spear phishing emails. The emails sent from a public email address disguised to be from nuclear security expert in the U.S.
Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 researchers first identified the campaign in November 2018 and it is having connections with past North Korean activities such as KimJongRAT and STOLEN PENCIL.
The infection starts with a spear-phishing email that contains a malicious Excel macro document attached, “when executed the macro loads new Microsoft Visual Basic (VB) script-based malware dubbed BabyShark.
The first stage of HTA is downloaded from a remote location and it sends out an HTTP GET request to another location on the same C2 server that decodes the BabyShark VB script.
Then the BabyShark VB script enables macros for Microsoft Word and Excel and adds the registry keys and issues a sequence of commands to find the user information, IP address, system name, running tasks and the versions.
BabyShark collects the data and encodes them by using certutil.exe and then uploaded to the C2 server. It adds the registry key to ensure persistence and waits for commands from the C2 server.
“We identified additional malicious document samples delivering BabyShark. The original file names and decoy contents of these samples suggested that the threat actor might have interests in gathering intelligence related to not only North Korea but possibly wider in the Northeast Asia region,” researchers said.
BabyShark found to be associated with previous North Korean activities such as KimJongRAT and STOLEN PENCIL. BabyShark uses the same file path for storing collected information as like KimJongRAT and the same codesigning certificate used in STOLEN PENCIL campaign.
The malware is being used in a limited spear phishing campaign which started in November 2018 and is still ongoing. The threat actor behind it has a clear focus on gathering intelligence related to Northeast Asia’s national security issues.