Data Wiper Malware Disguised As Ransomware Targets Israeli Entities

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Researchers on Tuesday disclosed a new espionage campaign that resorts to destructive data-wiping attacks targeting Israeli entities at least since December 2020 that camouflage the malicious activity as ransomware extortions.

Cybersecurity firm SentinelOne attributed the attacks to a nation-state actor affiliated with Iran it tracks under the moniker “Agrius.”

“An analysis of what at first sight appeared to be a ransomware attack revealed new variants of wipers that were deployed in a set of destructive attacks against Israeli targets,” the researchers said. “The operators behind the attacks intentionally masked their activity as ransomware attacks, an uncommon behavior for financially motivated groups.”

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The group’s modus operandi involves deploying a custom .NET malware called Apostle that has evolved to become fully functional ransomware, supplanting its prior wiper capabilities, while some of the attacks have been carried out using a second wiper named DEADWOOD (aka Detbosit) after a logic flaw in early versions of Apostle prevented data from being erased.

In addition, the Agrius actors drop a .NET implant called IPsec Helper that can be used to exfiltrate data or deploy…

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