Hackers Use Custom Backdoor & Powershell Scripts to Attack Windows Machines

The Damselfly Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group, also known as APT42, has been actively utilizing custom backdoor variants, NiceCurl and TameCat, to infiltrate Windows machines.

These backdoors are primarily delivered through spear-phishing campaigns, marking a significant escalation in the capabilities and focus of this Iranian state-sponsored hacking group.


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Sophisticated Tools for Stealthy Operations

The NiceCurl and TameCat backdoors represent a sophisticated toolkit in Damselfly’s arsenal, enabling threat actors to gain initial access to targeted environments discreetly.

NiceCurl, a VBScript-based malware, is designed to download and execute additional malicious modules, enhancing the attackers’ control over compromised systems.

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On the other hand, the TameCat backdoor facilitates the execution of PowerShell and C# scripts, allowing for further exploitation by downloading additional arbitrary content.

These tools are part of a broader strategy employed by Damselfly to conduct espionage and potentially disrupt operations at targeted facilities.

According to Broadcom report, the group’s activities have been primarily directed at energy companies and other critical infrastructure sectors across the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.

The sophistication of their methods and the critical nature of their targets underscore the high level of threat they pose.

These include adaptive, behavior, file, and network-based detection mechanisms, ensuring robust defense against Damselfly’s tactics.

The security firm’s efforts are crucial in mitigating the risks posed by such state-sponsored cyber activities, characterized by their complexity and stealth.

The operations of the Damselfly group highlight the ongoing challenges in cybersecurity, where state-sponsored actors employ advanced techniques and malware to achieve their objectives.

Using custom backdoors like NiceCurl and TameCat, coupled with spear-phishing campaigns, enables these actors to maintain persistence in their target networks and carry out their missions with a high degree of secrecy and efficiency.

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Author: Divya