Pakistani Hackers Use Linux Malware Poseidon to Target Indian Government Agencies

April 19, 2023IRavie LakshmananLinux / Malware

Linux Poseidon malware

The Pakistan-based Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor known as Transparent Tribe used a two-factor authentication (2FA) tool used by Indian government agencies as a ruse to deliver a new Linux backdoor called Poseidon.

“Poseidon is a second-stage payload malware associated with Transparent Tribe,” Uptycs security researcher Tejaswini Sandapolla said in a technical report released this week.

“It is a general-purpose backdoor that provides attackers with a wide range of capabilities to hijack an infected host. Its functionalities include logging keystrokes, taking screenshots, uploading and downloading files, and administering the system remotely from various ways.”

Transparent Tribe is also tracked as APT36, Operation C-Major, PROJECTM, and Mythic Leopard, and has a history of targeting Indian government organizations, military personnel, defense contractors, and educational institutions.

It has also repeatedly exploited trojanized versions of Kavach, the Indian government-mandated 2FA software, to deploy a variety of malware such as CrimsonRAT and LimePad to collect valuable information.

Another phishing campaign detected late last year took advantage of weaponized attachments to download malware designed to exfiltrate database files created by the Kavach application.

Linux Poseidon malware

The latest set of attacks involves using a backdoored version of Kavach to target Linux users working for government agencies in India, indicating attempts by the actor threat to expand its attack spectrum beyond the Windows and Android ecosystems.

“When a user interacts with the malicious version of Kavach, the genuine login page is displayed to distract them,” explained Sandapolla. “Meanwhile, the payload is downloaded in the background, compromising the user’s system.”


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The starting point of the infections is an ELF malware sample, a compiled Python executable that is designed to retrieve the second stage Poseidon payload from a remote server.

The cybersecurity firm noted that fake Kavach apps are mostly distributed through rogue websites masquerading as legitimate Indian government sites. This includes www.ksboard[.]at www.rodra[.]in

Since social engineering is the primary attack vector used by Transparent Tribe, users working within the Indian government are advised to check URLs received in emails before opening them.

“The repercussions of this APT36 attack could be significant, resulting in the loss of sensitive information, compromised systems, financial loss and reputational damage,” said Sandapolla.

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Recent reports have exposed a significant cyber security concern in the Asia Pacific region. Pakistani hackers have been using the open source Linux malware ‘Poseidon’ to target Indian government agencies. The malware contains spyware, backdoors and more, enabling hackers to potentially control infected computers from remote locations.

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