Carbanak: The Genius Hackers Striking Fear into the Digital World
Carbanak: The Genius Hackers Striking Fear into the Digital World

Carbanak emerged around 2013, this chameleon-like group is constantly evolving its tactics and techniques. This group gained notoriety for orchestrating sophisticated attacks on financial institutions globally, they have branched off to hit any sector that can offer them a payout, including hospitals, pipelines, hospitality, power grids, restaurants and even, at a higher level, the Military infrastructure.

Let's not leave out that this group has access to financial information, family and friends. Blackmailing of individuals is a possibility I'd like to keep open. These blackmailing tactics can make it easy for people to gain access to what the blackmailed individual has access to. Their centre base is likely somewhere in Europe. This group seems to be fluent in many languages being a spread-out organization in a sense.

Some of the names they may go by are:

  • Carbanak: The original name associated with the cybercriminal group, derived from the Carbanak backdoor malware they initially used.
  • Anunak: An alias linked to the group, often used to describe their operations involving banking trojans and financial cybercrimes.
  • Carbon Spider: Another alias representing the group, highlighting their adaptive and evolving nature in cyber-attacks.
  • FIN7: A prominent subset or sub-group of Carbanak, specializing in targeting point-of-sale (PoS) systems in the retail and hospitality sectors.
  • CobaltGoblin: A subgroup associated with Carbanak, known for targeting financial organizations and utilizing various malicious techniques for cyber-attacks.
  • EmpireMonkey: Another subset of Carbanak, focusing on cyber-attacks primarily against financial institutions.
  • ALPHV (BlackCat): A ransomware gang associated with the Carbanak group, particularly known for the BlackCat ransomware and involvement in high-profile cyber-attacks.
  • Conti (Ryuk): Conti, also known as Ryuk, is known for encrypting files and demanding ransom payments.

The exact origins and identities of the individuals behind Carbanak remain somewhat mysterious and are a subject of ongoing investigation. The group is believed to have initially emerged from the former Soviet states, particularly Russia and Ukraine, given their linguistic capabilities and the initial focus on targeting Russian-speaking regions.

These guys/girls are organized and don't play around. It's rather impressive what they have been able to pull off from my perspective of being unbiased. Steganography, DGAs, RaaS, SET, APTs, MitM, Fileless Malware, Malware Manipulation, Zero-Day Exploits, and Watering Hole Attacks are just a few skills this group possesses. They employ highly sophisticated techniques, including advanced social engineering, spear phishing, and exploitation of software vulnerabilities. Their ability to adapt and refine these techniques showcases a high level of expertise. The group demonstrates exceptional stealth and persistence within compromised networks, often remaining undetected for extended periods, allowing them to conduct thorough reconnaissance and maximize the damage caused. Developing and utilizing innovative malware such as the Carbanak backdoor and Bateleur JScript backdoor. In that, we see their skill sets range. We aren't dealing with script kiddies here, boys and girls. Extortion on all kinds of levels from Ransomware attacks, to blackmailing individuals, to DDoS. They seem to cover all bases when it comes to extortion.

Collaborating and sharing resources with other cybercriminal groups highlights a level of organization and coordination that is uncommon in the cybercrime landscape. This is their key to staying so strong and up to date. This allows them to reach more victims. Carbanak's blend of sophistication, adaptability, innovation, and the breadth of its operations is what makes it impressive and concerning for security professionals. They are indeed highly sophisticated in techniques, including advanced social engineering, spear phishing, and exploitation of software vulnerabilities. Their ability to adapt and refine these techniques showcases a high level of expertise. I have not seen ANY groups that can write code on the fly and make it bypass real-time fixes.

Here are some of the notable incidents linked to this group:

  • (2013-2015): Carbanak emerged around 2013-2014 and targeted financial and telecommunication institutions, primarily in Ukraine and Russia.
  • (2016): The group targeted U.S.-based chain restaurants using a new JScript backdoor called Bateleur.
  • (2017): Royal ransomware emerged, initially targeting entities associated with auto racing in Britain and later spreading to various businesses, including property appraisals.
  • (2021): BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, claimed responsibility for a cyber-attack on the Barts Health NHS Trust.

I don't get into their personal stuff. It's not my territory. These cyber folks operate in the shadows, and poking around could get you in trouble. I respect what they do, but I keep my distance, focusing on understanding the broader landscape and discussing it without prying into their lives. Cybersecurity is a fascinating world, one best approached with caution, looking at the big picture. And you know what? I reckon law enforcement plays it close to the chest, too. It's a constant cat-and-mouse game in this realm, where the roles of cat and mouse switch constantly.

I must emphasize that these individuals should not be underestimated. They will bite your head off if they fear threats. Their level of expertise is astonishing, to the point where it wouldn't be a stretch to believe that some operate at the level of nation-state actors. Government hackers, perhaps? Absolutely. One thing is clear: they are serious about their objectives and possess a skill set that is nothing short of exceptional.

Author: syntax
27 September 2023, 15:01
Category: Tech
Comments: 1
Views: 525


Comments (1)
Robert Guest

27 September 2023, 19:16

Great article 👍

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