Security experts weigh in on DarkHotel malware attacks

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A new cyber espionage campaign has been uncovered–DarkHotel. Like previous cyber espionage attacks, the DarkHotel malware attacks have apparently been compromising systems undetected for years, however this attack is unique in that it targets C-level executives, and other high-ranking corporate employees rather than government agencies or officials.

At it’s core, though, DarkHotel relies more on poor security practices than it does on sophisticated exploits. I spoke with a variety of security experts about the threat and impact of DarkHotel, and wrote this blog post:

The DarkHotel cyberespionage campaign making headlines now is not your typical advanced persistent threat (APT). According to a report released by Kaspersky Lab, a couple of key elements make DarkHotel unique among cyberespionage threats.

First, DarkHotel doesn’t appear to be aimed at nation-states, or government agencies or officials. Instead, DarkHotel specifically targets high-profile business executives: CEOs, senior vice presidents, sales and marketing directors, and top research & development staff. In other words, it’s designed more for corporate espionage than state secrets.

The second unique aspect of the DarkHotel attacks is that they’re not that sophisticated. The Kaspersky Lab report reveals advanced characteristics, but for the most part the attacks rely on poor security practices while connecting to public Wi-Fi networks in hotels.

The Kaspersky Lab report explains, “This APT precisely drives its campaigns by spear-phishing targets with highly advanced Flash zero-day exploits that effectively evade the latest Windows and Adobe defenses, and yet they also imprecisely spread among large numbers of vague targets with peer-to-peer spreading tactics.” Kaspersky also states that the attacks are stealing and re-using legitimate digital certificates to sign the malicious code so it appears legitimate.

You can read the full post at PCWorld: DarkHotel malware attacks target poorly secured networks, especially in hotels.

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I have a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security--and a desire to help others understand how technology can affect or improve their lives. I also love spending time with my wife, 7 kids, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 3 rabbits, 2 ferrets, pot-bellied pig and sulcata tortoise, and I like to think I enjoy reading and golf even though I never find time for either. You can contact me directly at tony@xpective.net. For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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