In a desperate bid to stay relevant in 2020's geopolitical upheaval, N. Korea upgrades its Apple Jeus macOS malware

Nork cash grab nasty gets stealthier

Malware hunters are sounding the alarm over a new, more effective version of the North Korean "Apple Jeus" macOS software nasty.

The team at Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team has dissected what they say is a 'sequel' to the 2018 outbreak that targeted users on cryptocurrency sites for account theft.

Believed to be operating out of North Korea on behalf of the nation's authoritarian government, the Lazarus group looks to bring cash into the sanction-hit government's coffers by way of hacks on financial institutions, phishing and currency mining and theft operations.

To that extent, Apple Jeus sets its sites on cryptocurrency exchanges, where it masquerades as legitimate trading software in order to slip a remote access trojan onto victim's machines. The infected boxes can then be pilfered for valuable files and account details.

In its latest incarnation, billed as a significant upgrade to the 2018 version, AppleJeus is able to circumvent authentication requests while doing its dirty work, thus making it harder for the user to see something is amiss and stop the attack.

"We identified significant changes to the group’s attack methodology," the Kaspersky team explained. "To attack macOS users, the Lazarus group has developed homemade macOS malware, and added an authentication mechanism to deliver the next stage payload very carefully, as well as loading the next-stage payload without touching the disk."

The malware uses GitHub to host malicious applications and its writers have shifted to using Object-C instead of QT framework for the attack code.

Shutterstock pickpocket

Nork hackers Lazarus brought back to life by AppleJeus to infect Macs for the first time


So far, the macOS infection has been spotted operating under the names JMTTrading and UnionCryptoTrader, and in addition to proliferating on a number of cryptocoin exchanges, the malware has been spotted in the wild on machines in the UK, Poland, Russia, and China. As this is a financially-motivated attack, the group is likely trying to infect as many cryptocoin investors and exchanges as possible.

Lazarus was also found to be tinkering with the Windows version of the malware. In that case, the malware was found to be spreading via the Telegram messenger. Like the macOS malware, the Windows build disguises its backdoor installer as a legitimate cryptocurrency trading app called 'UnionCryptoTrader'.

"The binary infection procedure in the Windows system differed from the previous case. They also changed the final Windows payload significantly from the well-known Fallchill malware used in the previous attack," the researchers noted.

"We believe the Lazarus group’s continuous attacks for financial gain are unlikely to stop anytime soon." ®

Other stories you might like

  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022