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Microsoft says North Korean hackers are weaponizing open source software

Updated on 2022-10-05: Microsoft says North Korean hackers are weaponizing open source software

North Korea-backed hackers are back with a bang. The group known as Lazarus Group have successfully compromised “numerous” media, defense, aerospace and IT companies by lacing open source software, like PuTTY and TightVNC, with highly encrypted code that ultimately installs clandestine malware. Microsoft, which calls the North Korean-backed hackers “Zinc,” published more details and IOCs. Read more:

Updated on 2022-10-01: Microsoft: North Korean Hackers are Using Trojanized Open-Source Software and Social Engineering in Espionage Campaign

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Threat Prevention and Defense team says that North Korean state-sponsored hackers are Trojanizing open-source software in an attempt to steal information from organizations in the entertainment, technology, and defense sectors around the world. The threat actors are using social engineering techniques to manipulate people into downloading the maliciously crafted software.


  • They are creating weaponized versions commonly used open source, including PuTTY, KiTTY, TightVNC, Sumatra PDF Reader, and muPDF/Subliminal Recording software installer, you need to make sure you are not only educating users about obtaining genuine versions of packages but also providing current EDR which is watching for this activity.


Updated on 2022-09-30

ZINC, a North Korean government hacking group and an affiliate of Lazarus, has been found weaponizing several open source software, including KiTTY, PuTTY, TightVNC, muPDF/Subliminal Recording, and Sumatra PDF Reader with custom malware capable of espionage, financial gain, data theft, and network destruction. Read more: North Korean Gov Hackers Caught Rigging Legit Software


Microsoft said in a report on Thursday that it’s been tracking a series of social engineering campaigns carried out by the ZINC North Korean cyber-espionage group. These attacks consist of ZINC operators reaching out to targets via LinkedIn, engaging in WhatsApp conversations, all in order to get them to download and install backdoored versions of various open source software. The Microsoft report seems to cover the same campaign detailed by Mandiant earlier this month, but besides PuTTY, Microsoft said it saw ZINC operators also leverage apps like KiTTY, TightVNC, the Sumatra PDF Reader, muPDF, and Subliminal Recording software.


Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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