Crypto Firms Become Targets Of Government Backed Chinese Hackers

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Hackers Backed By Chinese Government Are Targeting Crypto Firms: Report

Crypto-related companies in China are being targeted by an espionage operator during various government-backed campaigns, according to a recently published FireEye Threat Intelligence report.

The intelligence firm has determined with “high confidence” that a group of hackers known as APT41 is working cooperatively with the Chinese government. Previously, APT41 members were launching financially motivated attacks on video game development firms.

APT41 Hackers Are Targeting A Wide Range of Companies

The hacking collective has reportedly been targeting industries “in a manner generally aligned with China’s five-year economic development plans,” the report revealed. APT41 members have attacked healthcare, fintech, telecommunications, and film and media firms.

Recently, the hackers began infiltrating and phishing various crypto and blockchain companies. However, the scope of the hacking group’s attacks appears to quite broad

Industries previously targeted by APT41 include those dealing in high technology such as batteries, semiconductors, and electric vehicles. The state-sponsored hackers also attacked software, pharmaceuticals, travel, education, and retail companies.

Installing Malicious Monero Mining Bots

APT41 sent out spear-phishing emails in June to various targets, prompting them to join a crypto-related gaming website in order to game studios. A digital asset exchange run by an individual named Tom Giardino has also been targeted by the same email address.

The hackers have used malicious scripts that install Monero (XMR) mining bots on victims’ computers, in what has become a common type of cyberattack.

The report also revealed that the state espionage cyber unit APT41 has been “deployed to gather intelligence ahead of imminent events, such as mergers and acquisitions and political events.”

Countries targeted by the hackers include France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and the US

Several Ransomware Attacks Launched

The report notes that APT41 members launched several ransomware attacks, some of which might not have been commissioned by the Chinese government. According to FireEye’s findings:

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“Unlike other observed Chinese espionage operators, APT41 conducts explicit financially motivated activity, which has included the use of tools that are otherwise exclusively used in campaigns supporting state interests. The late-night to early morning activity of APT41’s financially motivated operations suggests that the group primarily conducts these activities outside of their normal day jobs.”

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Chinese State Hackers are Targeting Crypto Firms: report

The hacker group is using tactics like phishing emails to distribute malware.

Chinese state-sponsored hackers are attacking an array of companies, including crypto firms, according to a report by cybersecurity firm FireEye.

The attacks are being performed by a hacking collective called APT41, which was previously involved in breaching the security of video game companies for financial motives, but now working alongside the Chinese government.

The report detailed that the hackers are targeting a wide array of industries, including healthcare, high technology (semiconductors, batteries, and electric vehicles), media, pharmaceuticals, retail, software, telecommunications, travel services, education, video games, and cryptocurrencies.

Motives beyond extortion

Per the cybersecurity company, the hacker group “targets industries in a manner generally aligned with China’s Five-Year economic development plans.”

In addition, the group is also working “to gather intelligence ahead of imminent events, such as mergers and acquisitions and political events.”

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FireEye also detailed that it has evidence that APT41 targeted a decentralized gaming company in June 2020 by sending malicious phishing emails. Moreover, at least in one instance last year, it deployed XMRig, a Monero mining tool, on victims computers.

The group is also targeting companies across the globe, including countries like France, India, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Hong Kong.

The cybersecurity company also found code overlaps between the malware used by the group to target a US-based gaming development studio in 2020 and the malicious programs used to target supply chain companies in the following two years.

“Unlike other observed Chinese espionage operators, APT41 conducts explicit financially motivated activity, which has included the use of tools that are otherwise exclusively used in campaigns supporting state interests,” FireEye’s report stated.

“The late-night to early morning activity of APT41’s financially motivated operations suggests that the group primarily conducts these activities outside of their normal day jobs.”

Meanwhile, a confidential United Nations report revealed that North Korean government-sponsored hackers have extorted $2 billion in crypto and fiats to fund the country’s weapons program.

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