Kimsuky’s New Golang Stealer ‘Troll’ and ‘GoBear’ Backdoor Targets South Korea

The nation-state actor linked to North Korea, known as Kimsuky, is suspected of using a previously undocumented Golang-based information ...

by Vikash Kumawat
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The nation-state actor linked to North Korea, known as Kimsuky, is suspected of using a previously undocumented Golang-based information stealer called Troll Stealer.

South Korean cybersecurity company S2W said in a new technical report that the malware steals “SSH, FileZilla, C drive files/directories, browsers, system information, [and] screen captures” from infected systems.

Troll Stealer’s connection to Kimsuky stems from its similarity to known malware families, such as the AppleSeed and AlphaSeed malware, which have been attributed to this group.

Kimsuky, also tracked under the names APT43, ARCHIPELAGO, Black Banshee, Emerald Sleet (formerly Thallium), Nickel Kimball, and Velvet Chollima, is known for his propensity to steal sensitive, confidential information in offensive cyber operations.

In late November 2023, the threat actors were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for gathering intelligence to further North Korea’s strategic objectives.

In recent months, the adversary group has been held responsible for spear-phishing-attacks targeting South Korean entities providing a variety of backdoors, including AppleSeed and AlphaSeed.

malware

S2W’s latest analysis reveals the use of a dropper that masquerades as a security program installation file from a South Korean company named SGA Solutions to launch the stealer, which gets its name from the path “D:/~/repo/golang/src/root.go/s/troll/agent” that’s embedded in it.

“The dropper runs as a legitimate installer alongside the malware, and both the dropper and malware are signed with a valid, legitimate D2Innovation Co.,LTD’ certificate, suggesting that the company’s certificate was actually stolen,” the company said.

A distinctive feature of Troll Stealer is the ability to steal the GPKI folder on infected systems, increasing the possibility that the malware has been used in attacks targeting administrative and public organizations in the country.

Given the absence of Kimsuky campaigns documenting the theft of GPKI folders, it has raised the possibility that the new behavior is either a shift in tactics or the work of another threat actor closely associated with the group that also has access to the source code of AppleSeed and AlphaSeed.

There are also signs that the threat actor may be involved with a Go-based backdoor codenamed GoBear that’s also signed with a legitimate certificate associated with D2Innovation Co., LTD and executes instructions received from a command-and-control (C2) server.

“Strings in the names of the functions it calls have been found to overlap with commands used by BetaSeed, a C++-based backdoor malware used by the Kimsuky group,” S2W said. “It is notable that GoBear adds SOCKS5 proxy functionality, which was not previously supported by the Kimsuky Group’s backdoor malware.”

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