As Valentine's Day arrives, cyber-criminals are looking to once again seize the opportunity to target lonely singles in romance schemes looking to persuade victims into downloading malware hidden in chat apps.
The Confucius hacking group has been observed using these scams to deliver malware similar to that used by the Patchwork cyber-gang. Similarities include the use of custom code, commands in backdoors, and custom structures, according to a 13 February Trend Micro blog post.
Despite the similarities, Trend Micro researches believe the two are different groups, possibly within the same community but with different objectives and modi operandi. Researchers noted Patchwork may be more straightforward with its predominantly malware-based attacks while Confucius' relies more on social engineering.
The Confucius group looks to deploy bespoke backdoors steal files from their victim's systems with tailored file stealers that exfiltrate files by abusing a cloud storage service. The group uses several backdoors including sctrls, ByeBye Shell, remote-access-c3, and sip_telephone as well a file stealers, swissknife2, which abuses a cloud storage service as a repository of exfiltrated files.
So far Confucius has targeted a particular set of individuals in, such as military personnel and businessmen, among others in various South Asian countries and, at the time of research, there were around 60 victims whose data were uploaded to Confucius-owned cloud storage account as well as a few thousand files in the account that were later deleted.