The financially motivated threat actor UNC3944, also known as 0ktapus or Scatter Swine, has shifted its focus towards ransomware deployment as part of its evolving monetization strategies, as revealed by Mandiant, a prominent threat intelligence firm.
UNC3944, active since early 2022, initially targeted telecom and business process outsourcing companies but has since expanded its victim pool to include sectors such as hospitality, retail, media, entertainment, and financial services. This expansion reflects the growing threat posed by the group.
A significant characteristic of UNC3944’s tactics involves leveraging stolen credentials to impersonate employees during calls to an organization’s service desk. This tactic aims to obtain multi-factor authentication (MFA) codes or password resets.
The threat actor has become proficient in using phone-based social engineering and SMS-based phishing to compromise employees’ credentials through bogus sign-in pages, mirroring tactics employed by a group known as LAPSUS$. UNC3944 also exploits fake software downloads and phishing kits, including EIGHTBAIT, to deploy credential theft tools such as RECORDSTEALER.To
enhance their operations, UNC3944 employs various information stealers and credential theft tools, such as Atomic, ULTRAKNOT, Meduza, Vidar, and MicroBurst. They use commercial residential proxy services to evade detection and conduct extensive reconnaissance on target directories and networks to escalate privileges and maintain persistence.
Furthermore, the group abuses victims’ cloud resources to host malicious utilities, disabling firewalls and security software. UNC3944 has recently become an affiliate of the BlackCat (ALPHV or Noberus) ransomware crew, targeting victims like MGM Resorts and emphasizing business-critical virtual machines during ransomware attacks.