UK raises concern over Russian hacking group

The UK raises concern over an alleged information-gathering operation that has targeted numerous actors in government, politics, education, defence, journalism, and activism, carried out by a hacking group with ties to Russia called Cold River.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a division of the British government’s GCHQ spy agency, warned that Cold River conducts research on its targets and impersonates others in their near area using false email accounts and social media profiles. The Russian embassies in London and Washington did not immediately answer email requests for comments on the NCSC’s remarks. The Russian government was not specifically named as the source of the cyberattacks in the advisory.

US authorities shut down Hive ransomware variant networks

The US Department of Justice announced that it seized the networks of a major international ransomware variant named Hive. The Hive ransomware was responsible for extorting and attempting to extort millions of dollars from victims in the USA and around the world, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated. More than 1,500 victims worldwide were targeted, including hospitals, schools, financial firms, and critical infrastructure, with an estimated loss of more than $150 million.

Saudi Arabia targeted by the Iranian threat actor’s new identity

Cobalt Sapling, an Iranian threat actor, has been seen developing a new identity known as ‘Abraham’s Ax’ to use Saudi Arabia as political leverage.

The information was discovered by cybersecurity researchers at Secureworks’ Counter Threat Unit (CTU), who released an advisory about the new threat on January 26. Secureworks stated that the development of Abraham’s Ax and its attacks on Saudi government ministries illustrate its political intentions in a report emailed to Infosecurity.

Lazarus group responsible for virtual currency theft

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed that the DPRK cybercriminal group, Lazarus, is responsible for stealing $100 million of virtual currency from Harmony’s Horizon Bridge. FBI found that the portion of the stolen Ethereum, laundered during the June 2022 heist, was sent to virtual asset providers and converted to bitcoins.

Russia experienced record numbers of DDoS attacks in 2022

The biggest internet service provider in Russia, Rostelecom, reports that 2022 saw a record number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against Russian organisations.

According to the Rostelecom report, its experts recorded 21.5 million critical web attacks aimed at approximately 600 organizations from various industries, including critical infrastructure, financial, and the private and public sectors. DDoS assaults accounted for 80% of all cyberattacks directed at Russian entities.

Other findings suggest that 30% of all observed cyberattacks in 2022 targeted the governmental sector, followed by 25% on financial organisations and services and 16% on educational institutions.

With more than 500,000 DDoS attempts found, Moscow was the most often targeted region in 2022. The largest documented attack was 760 GB/sec, while the longest DDoS lasted nearly three months.

New Consolidated Negotiating Document of the Cybercrime Ad Hoc Committee

The fourth session of the Cybercrime Ad Hoc Committee focused on amending the consolidated document prepared by the Chair Committee with the support of the Secretariat on November 7th, 2022. The new version was amended and will be further negotiated in the upcoming sessions. In General Provisions, the protection of human rights was highlighted by the EU and its member states, Canada, and the UK, while also emphasising that state parties shall carry out their obligations under international human rights law treaties.

NoName057(16) hacktivist group found to target Czech presidential elections

NoName057(16), a hacktivist group described as pro-Russian, is reportedly targeting websites of candidates in the 2023 Czech presidential elections. According to SentinelLabs, the action is part of a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks campaign that the group has been conducting against government organisations and critical infrastructures in Ukraine and NATO member states since the start of the war in Ukraine. Some of the most recent targets are said to include Denmark’s financial sector and organisations and businesses in Poland and Lithuania.

The organisation allegedly carried out these attacks utilising open Telegram channels, a DDoS payment program run by volunteers, a multi-OS supported toolkit, and GitHub.

European Parliament moves forward with cybercrime protocol ratification

The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) has voted for the parliament to move ahead with ratifying the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime. More specifically, LIBE voted in favour of a draft European Parliament resolution that will give the parliament’s consent to a draft Council decision that allows EU member states to ratify the Additional Protocol.

Among other provisions, the Protocol introduces the possibility of emergency mutual assistance between signatories in addressing cybercrime, creates a legal framework for joint investigations, and makes it possible to collect evidence via videoconference where necessary.

The Protocol was criticised by civil society organisations citing incompatibilities with the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. At the same time, a January 2022 opinion from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) underscored the “many safeguards” contained in the text despite the fact that some data transfers between the EU and the US would be facilitated under the agreement.