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Cobalt shrugs off arrests, resumes cyberattacks on banks

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The arrest of several leaders of the Cobalt cybergang, including its leader, has not stopped the group from launching additional attacks with the most recent being tracked late last week.

The research firm Group-IB is reporting some bank employees in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States received phishing emails supposedly from a “leading antivirus company” that stated the bank’s computers were in violation of the law. The email goes on to say the recipient must download the attachment and read the document, which then infected the bank’s computer system with malware.

Whoever is now leading Cobalt did not make it hard for Group-IB to trace the emails.

“Group-IB experts found a connection between the emails and Cobalt quite quickly: the unique Trojan “Coblnt”, which has been in the inventory of the group since the end of December 2017, was involved in the attack. The emails were sent from a domain titled “kaspersky-corporate[.]com. Upon review, it was discovered that this domain name was registered by a person with the same name as with previously registered domains for Cobalt attacks,” the report states.

The use of a cybersecurity company is a new twist, and the new Cobalt members may also still be learning their trade as the first batch of phishing emails did not include the malware payload. An error that was corrected.

Another outlier is the emails were written in English so may have been targeting western-owned banks, Group-IB said. Otherwise, the email itself was well crafted.

During the time Cobalt was previously active, Group-IB credited it with hitting 100 banks in 40 countries, including Russia, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Romania, Belarus, Poland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Taiwan and Malaysia and stealing an estimated 1 billion Euros.


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