A new phishing campaign that delivers Action RAT has been linked to an advanced persistent threat (APT) group that has a track record of targeting India and Afghanistan. Cyble attributed the operation to SideCopy, and said that the activity cluster is designed to target the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), the research and development wing of India's Ministry of Defence. SideCopy is a threat group of Pakistani origin that shares overlaps with Transparent Tribe. It has been active since at least 2019. Attack chains mounted by the group involve using spear-phishing emails to gain initial access. These messages come bearing a ZIP archive file that contains a Windows shortcut file (.LNK) masquerading as information about the K-4 ballistic missile developed by DRDO. Executing the .LNK file leads to the retrieval of an HTML application from a remote server, which, in turn, displays a decoy presentation, while also stealthily deploying the Action RAT backdoor. The malware, in addition to gathering information about the victim machine, is capable of running commands sent from a command-and-control (C2) server, including harvesting files and dropping follow-on malware. Also deployed is a new information-stealing malware referred to as AuTo Stealer that's equipped to gather and exfiltrate Microsoft Office files, PDF documents, database and text files, and images over HTTP or TCP.
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