A Chinese hacking group by any other name? “Black Vine”

Symantec has released a paper on a Chinese cyberespionage group that they call “Black Vine.” I’m not sure how the Chinese would feel about that name, but in any event, Symantec writes:

In early 2014, Anthem was a victim of an attack that exposed 80 million patient records. The breach, which came to light in February 2015, is believed to be the work of a well- resourced cyberespionage group which Symantec calls Black Vine.

Anthem wasn’t Black Vine’s only target. Black Vine has been actively conducting its campaigns since 2012 and has been targeting several industries, including aerospace, energy, and healthcare. The group has access to zero-day exploits distributed through the Elderwood framework and has used these exploits as the same time that other advanced attack groups have, such as Hidden Lynx.

Black Vine typically conducts watering-hole attacks against websites that are relevant to its targets’ interests and uses zero-day exploits to compromise computers. If the exploits succeed, then they drop variants of Black Vine’s custom-developed malware: Hurix and Sakurel (both detected as Trojan.Sakurel), and Mivast (detected as Backdoor.Mivast). These threats open a back door on the compromised computers and allow the attackers to steal valuable information.

Based on our own analysis of the campaigns, along with support from open-source data, Symantec believes that some actors of Black Vine may be associated with an IT security organization based in Beijing called Topsec.

You can read their full report here (pdf).

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