Researchers discovered a new malicious campaign called “Sea Turtle,” attack public and private entities in various countries using DNS hijacking as a mechanism.
State sponsored threat actors compromise at least 40 different organizations across 13 different countries during this malicious campaign in the first quarter of 2019.
Attackers carried out highly persistent tactics and advanced tools to gain access to sensitive networks and systems.
DNS hijacking is a type of malicious attack that used to redirect the users to the malicious website by modify DNS name records when they visit the website via compromised routers or attackers modifying a server’s settings.
Threat actors targeting two different groups of vicims, primary victims are national security organizations, ministries of foreign affairs, and prominent energy organizations and the second group of victims are numerous DNS registrars, telecommunication companies, and internet service providers.
Initially they targeting the 3rd party that provide services to the primary targets to perform DNS hijacking.
Researchers alerts that the current DNS hijacking campaign is more severe and sophisticated than the previous attacks.
How Does This DNS Hijacking Attack Performed
In the first way, threat actors manipulating and falsifying DNS records by obtaining the organization’s network administrator credentials to modify the DNS records.
A second way to access DNS records via DNS registrar who sells domain names to the public and manages DNS records and the domain registry
In this case, attackers obtain one of these EPP keys to modify any of the DNS records that managed by the Registrar.
Actors behind Sea Turtle ultimately intended to steal credentials to gain access to networks and systems by performing the following way,
- Established a means to control the DNS records of the target.
- Modified DNS records to point legitimate users of the target to actor-controlled servers.
- Captured legitimate user credentials when users interacted with these actor-controlled servers.
Threat actors behind the Sea Turtle campaign either exploiting the known vulnerability or sprear-phising emails to compromise the victims in the initial stage.
Once the successfully gain the network access, attacker would modify the NS records for the targeted organization and the pointing users to a malicious DNS server.
This access gives lets attacker to redirect the users who queried for that particular domain around the world to the macious domain.
According to Talos Research, Once the actor-controlled name server was queried for the targeted domain, it would respond with a falsified “A” record that would provide the IP address of the actor-controlled MitM node instead of the IP address of the legitimate service. In some instances, the threat actors modified the time-to-live (TTL) value to one second.