How Russian Fancy Bear APT Used Unpatched Cisco Routers to Hack US and EU Government Agencies

How Russian Fancy Bear APT Used Unpatched Cisco Routers to Hack US and EU Government Agencies

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In recent years, cyber attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and targeted. One such attack that has gained attention is the Russian Fancy Bear APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) group’s use of unpatched Cisco routers to hack into US and EU government agencies.

The Russian Fancy Bear APT group, also known as APT28 or Sofacy, is a state-sponsored hacking group believed to be linked to the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU. The group has been active since at least 2007 and has been responsible for a number of high-profile cyber attacks, including the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the US presidential election.

In 2018, researchers from cybersecurity firm FireEye discovered that the group had been using a vulnerability in Cisco routers to gain access to government agencies in the US and Europe. The vulnerability, known as CVE-2018-0171, allowed attackers to remotely execute code on the router without authentication.

The vulnerability affected a number of Cisco routers, including the popular ASR 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers. Cisco released a patch for the vulnerability in May 2018, but many organizations failed to apply the patch, leaving their routers vulnerable to attack.

Once the Russian Fancy Bear APT group gained access to the routers, they were able to use them as a foothold to launch further attacks on the targeted organizations. The group used a variety of techniques to evade detection, including using legitimate credentials stolen from compromised systems and disguising their activity as normal network traffic.

The attacks were highly targeted and focused on government agencies involved in foreign policy and national security. The group was able to steal sensitive information, including diplomatic cables and military plans.

The use of unpatched Cisco routers highlights the importance of keeping software up-to-date and applying security patches in a timely manner. It also underscores the need for organizations to have robust cybersecurity measures in place to detect and respond to attacks.

In response to the attacks, Cisco issued a security advisory urging customers to apply the patch for CVE-2018-0171 and to implement additional security measures, such as network segmentation and access controls.

The Russian Fancy Bear APT group’s use of unpatched Cisco routers is just one example of the growing threat posed by state-sponsored hacking groups. As these groups become more sophisticated and targeted in their attacks, it is essential that organizations take steps to protect themselves and their sensitive data. This includes implementing strong cybersecurity measures, keeping software up-to-date, and staying vigilant for signs of a potential attack.

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