Chinese malware attack affected dozens of South Korean organizations, researchers say

Over 1,000 computers were recently infected with a piece of malware used by Chinese-speaking hackers, researchers from Seculert said

A recent targeted attack that used Chinese malware compromised over 1,000 computers belonging to dozens of South Korea organizations, according to researchers from Israeli security firm Seculert.

The main malware tool used in the attack is called PinkStats and has been used by several Chinese-language groups to target different organizations and nation states from around the world during the past four years, the Seculert researchers said Tuesday in a blog post.

PinkStats is designed to download and install additional malicious components after it infects a computer and then report successful installations to its command and control server.

In the South Korean attacks, the malware installed a common Chinese attack tool called "zxarps" that acts as a worm on the local network, the Seculert researchers said.

The "zxarps" tool uses a technique called ARP poisoning to intercept Web sessions from other computers on the network and inject a malicious ActiveX component into them. If executed, the ActiveX control installs the PinkStats malware.

The malicious component was signed with a valid digital certificate issued by certificate authority Thawte to what is likely a fake company with a South Korean name, the researchers said.

A second component installed by PinkStats is a malware tool used to launch DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. The component masquerades as software developed by South Korean antivirus vendor AhnLab.

The attackers don't seem to have sent any specific instructions to the DDoS malware yet, the Seculert researchers said. However, it is reasonable to assume that this could change at any time, they said.

Data obtained by Seculert researchers from a PinkStats administration panel suggests that over 1,000 computers in South Korea were infected in the recent attack. Many of those machines belong to universities and other educational institutions.

Earlier this year, attackers used malware to cripple the computer networks of several South Korean banks and TV broadcasters. While many in South Korea blamed North Korean hackers for the attack, some security researchers said the malware's code is distinctly Chinese.

Even though there has been speculation that Chinese-speaking hackers have attacked South Korean organizations before, PinkStats seems to be the first proof of such an attack, the Seculert researchers said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwareintrusionSeculert

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?