New powerful malware is used by Chinese hacker group to affect Chinese and US companies

It has just been discovered a new piece of malware, which operates in Asia and for the past several months it has performed numerous nasty tasks like password stealing, bitcoin mining and providing cybercriminals complete remote access and control to victims systems.
This malware campaign goes by the name Operation PZChao, and it is affecting companies in the government, technology, education, and telecommunications sectors in Asia and the United States.

We wanted to see who is behind this massive malware campaign and some data that we collected points at an Iron Tiger, also known as Emissary Panda or Threat Group-3390 which is a Chinese advanced persistent threat – APT – hacker group.
Operation PZChao uses variants of the Gh0stRAT trojan and multiple others payloads to conduct cyber espionage and mine Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Companies across Asia and the U.S are hit with malicious VBS file attachment contained in highly-targeted phishing emails. Once is executed this VBS script downloads additional payloads into victim’s Windows devices. All payloads are stored on a server named down.pzchao.com that is located in South Korea.
The first payload that is installed is a Bitcoin miner, disguised as a ‘java.exe’ file. This miner is designed to mine cryptocurrency every three weeks at 3 AM when most victims are not using their systems.

The second payload installed is a version of the Mimikatz password-scraping utility that steals passwords and uploads them to the C&C server owed by the cybercriminals.
The last payload installed is the most dangerous one which is a modified version of Gh0st remote access trojan (RAT) which is designed to act as a backdoor implant.

The Gh0st RAT has some offensive capabilities:
• Real-time and offline remote keylogging
• Listing of all active processes and opened windows
• Eavesdropping on conversations via microphone
• Eavesdropping on webcams’ live video feed
• Can execute remote shutdown and reboot of the system
• Downloading binaries from the Internet to remote host
• Modifying and stealing files and more.

Threats like this can be avoided only if good security habits are used by every user, and by protecting every system with an antivirus solution.

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Most of the companies don't care about cybersecurity until they suffer a breach.
A healthy company must perform a penetration test from time to time. The penetration test must execute against all the assets of the company, including the workers who are the most vulnerable to the social engineering attacks.
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