A new targeted attack is using this weekend’s G20 summit as a lure.
Spotted by ESET, it found that Tibetan non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are being targeted specifically, with malware that uses the Gh0stRAT remote access Trojan. In this case, a spotted sample had a very low number of detections, but both hits were in China.
“After a quick dynamic analysis, we saw that the magic word used in network communications by this sample is “LURK0”, instead of the infamous “Gh0st”. This particular magic word has been used against Tibetan groups in the past,” it said.
The email invites the recipient to a rally for Tibet during the Brisbane summit. It reads: “Tibetans and supporters in Australia and worldwide are calling on key world Governments to take joint action to address the human rights crisis in Tibet. We are asking like-minded Governments to stand by their common democratic value and stand for Tibet.”
It claims that the rally is organised by the “Australian Tibetan Community Association, the eight local Tibetan communities and Australia Tibet Council”.
ESET called this “a pretty classic case of spear phishing email” as the sender tries to lure the user into opening the infected attachment by using the genuine rally, with text taken directly from, their website. The email was allegedly sent to the European Central Tibetan Administration.
The word document, entitled “A_Solution_for_Tibet.doc”, exploits CVE-2012-0158, a very old exploit that is still reliably used by malicious actors to compromise systems around the world. If the document is opened, it will try to install Gh0st RAT and try to connect to one of two domains. The flaw was patched in a critical update from Microsoft in 2012.
ESET said: “While we do not have enough information to make any serious attribution, this attack has several elements that are usually seen in targeted attacks.
“NGO members with a political agenda have been targeted in the past and will most likely continue to forego continuous attacks in the future. In the light of constant attacks against them, they should definitely be as cautious as one can be when these types of emails are received, especially when popular themes or news events are used as a lure.”