A cyber espionage campaign known as TetrisPhantom is actively targeting government entities in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This long-running campaign has focused on covertly spying on and extracting sensitive data from APAC government organizations, exploiting secure USB drives that feature hardware encryption for secure data storage and transfer.
While the campaign’s origins remain undisclosed, its high level of sophistication suggests the involvement of a nation-state actor. Kaspersky, the Russian cybersecurity firm that identified TetrisPhantom, noted that the attacker’s activities have been extremely targeted and are limited in terms of the number of victims.
A distinct characteristic of the TetrisPhantom campaign is the use of malicious modules that execute commands and gather files and information from compromised machines. These modules also facilitate the spread of infection to other machines, using secure USB drives as vectors. The malware components possess the capability to self-replicate through connected secure USB drives, enabling them to breach air-gapped networks, and execute additional malicious files on the infected systems. The attack utilizes a combination of sophisticated tools and techniques, including the injection of code into a legitimate access management program on the USB drive, acting as a loader for the malware on new machines.
Meanwhile, another unknown advanced persistent threat (APT) actor has emerged, targeting government entities, military contractors, universities, and hospitals in Russia through spear-phishing emails containing malicious Microsoft Office documents.
Dubbed BadRory by Kaspersky, these attacks unfolded in two waves, one in October 2022 and another in April 2023, initiating a multi-level infection scheme designed to exfiltrate files from victims’ machines and gain control by executing arbitrary commands. Both the TetrisPhantom and BadRory campaigns highlight the growing threat of nation-state cyber espionage activities.