Microsoft Disables Iran-Linked Lebanese Hacking Group Polonium

After detecting a Lebanese hacking group it calls Polonium abusing its OneDrive personal storage service, Microsoft says it was able to disable the group, which could have links to the Iranian government.

In its latest effort, the advanced persistent threat (APT) targeted more than 20 Israeli organizations and one intergovernmental organization. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) says it suspended more than 20 malicious OneDrive applications created by Polonium actors in the campaign.

Among the targeted organizations were those involved in critical manufacturing, transportation systems, financial services, IT, and Israel’s defense industry, the software giant says – all of which offer an avenue to carry out downstream supply chain attacks.

“In at least one case, Polonium’s compromise of an IT company was used to target a downstream aviation company and law firm in a supply-chain attack that relied on service provider credentials to gain access to the targeted networks,” according to MSTIC. “Multiple manufacturing companies they targeted also serve Israel’s defense industry, indicating a Polonium tactic that follows an increasing trend by many actors, including among several Iranian groups, of targeting service provider access to gain downstream access.”

Polonium’s Infection Routine

In 80% of the observed cases, the group exploited a flaw in Fortinet VPN appliances (likely via CVE-2018-13379 vulnerability) to gain initial access. Then they installed a custom PowerShell implant called CreepySnail on the target networks, according to Microsoft. From there, the actors deployed a set of tools named CreepyDrive and CreepyBox to abuse legitimate cloud services for command-and-control (C2) across most of their victims. 

MSTIC says with “moderate confidence” that the attacks were likely carried out with help from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

“The observed activity was coordinated with other actors affiliated with Iran’s [MOIS], based primarily on victim overlap and commonality of tools and techniques,” the MSTIC assessment states. “The tactic of leveraging IT products and service providers to gain access to downstream customers remains…