Ukrainian Navy Focused in Phishing Marketing campaign Leveraging Drone Manuals –

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Ukrainian navy entities are the goal of a phishing marketing campaign that leverages drone manuals as lures to ship a Go-based open-source post-exploitation toolkit referred to as Merlin.

“Since drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been an integral tool used by the Ukrainian military, malware-laced lure files themed as UAVs service manuals have begun to surface,” Securonix researchers Den Iuzvyk, Tim Peck, and Oleg Kolesnikov mentioned in a report shared with The Hacker Information.

The cybersecurity firm is monitoring the marketing campaign below the title STARK#VORTEX.

The place to begin of the assault is a Microsoft Compiled HTML Assist (CHM) file that, when opened, runs malicious JavaScript embedded inside one of many HTML pages to execute PowerShell code designed to contact a distant server to fetch an obfuscated binary.


The Home windows-based payload is decoded to extract the Merlin Agentwhich, in flip, is configured to speak with a command-and-control (C2) server for post-exploitation actions, successfully seizing management over the host.

“While the attack chain is quite simple, the attackers leveraged some pretty complex TTPs and obfuscation methods in order to evade detection,” the researchers mentioned.

That is the primary time Ukrainian authorities organizations have been focused utilizing Merlin. In early August 2023, the Laptop Emergency Response Staff of Ukraine (CERT-UA) disclosed an identical assault chain that employs CHM information as decoys to contaminate the computer systems with the open-source instrument.

Phishing Campaign

CERT-UA attributed the intrusions to a risk actor it screens below the title UAC-0154.

“Files and documents used in the attack chain are very capable of bypassing defenses,” the researchers defined.


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“Typically receiving a Microsoft help file over the internet would be considered unusual. However, the attackers framed the lure documents to appear as something an unsuspecting victim might expect to appear in a help-themed document or file.”

The event arrives weeks after the CERT-UA said it detected an unsuccessful cyber assault in opposition to an unnamed essential vitality infrastructure facility within the nation undertaken by the Russian state-sponsored crew referred to as APT28.

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Date: 2023-09-25 18:46:05

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Alina A, Toronto
Alina A, Toronto
Alina A, an UofT graduate & Google Certified Cyber Security analyst, currently based in Toronto, Canada. She is passionate for Research and to write about Cyber-security related issues, trends and concerns in an emerging digital world.


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