Ukraine Central Bank Detects Massive Attack Preparation

Ukraine’s central bank has warned state-owned and private banks across the country that a new malware campaign targeting financial services firms across the country may be a prelude to another assault of Not-Petya proportions.

“The nature of this malicious code, its mass distribution, and the fact that at the time of its distribution it was not detected by any anti-virus software, suggest that this attack is preparation for a mass cyberattack on the corporate networks of Ukrainian businesses,” the central bank warned financial institutions earlier this month, in a letter seen by Reuters.

It added that the attacks have been spreading via malicious Microsoft Word documents attached to emails.

The National Bank of Ukraine – the country’s central bank – declined to share a copy of the letter with Information Security Media Group, but confirmed that it had alerted banks to a new, potentially major attack.

“In order to prevent cyber attacks, the National Bank of Ukraine consistently cooperates with banking sector participants, the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSCIPU), as well as relevant units of the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police of Ukraine,” a spokesman for the National Bank of Ukraine tells ISMG.

“On August 11, the NBU promptly informed banks about new malicious code, its characteristics, indicators of compromise and the need to take preventive measures to prevent the networks from being attacked by malicious codes.”

The bank is also spearheading the creation of a new group that would facilitate more real-time sharing of threat intelligence across the financial services sector.

“The NBU is involved in efforts to establish the NBU Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT-NBU) to respond promptly to cyber incidents and share information in real time with all the banking sector participants and law enforcement agencies,” the NBU spokesman says.

Malware and ransomware have long been distributed via malicious files attached to spam emails, designed to trick recipients into executing the attachment or otherwise aid the attack (see Hello! Can You Please Enable Macros?). If such attachments do get opened, they typically function as a “dropper,” downloading additional malware from an attacker-controlled server onto the by now infected, or “zombie,” endpoint.

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