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Meet Elephant Beetle: new financial theft threat group uncovered

Israeli cyber security consulting company Sygnia publishes a comprehensive report detailing the group’s MO and actions

BIGSTOCK/Copyright: Seamartini
BIGSTOCK/Copyright: Seamartini

Sygnia, an Israeli incident response and cyber security consulting company that protects organizations worldwide, released a comprehensive report uncovering an organized financial-theft operation it has termed “Elephant Beetle.”

For the past two years, Sygnia’s Incident Response (IR) team has been methodically tracking the Elephant Beetle threat group, which primarily targets legacy Java applications running on Linux-based machines as its initial means of entry.

According to the company, over a period of several months, the threat group uses an arsenal of more than 80 unique tools and scripts to patiently and discreetly expand its foothold and study the compromised organization’s internal financial systems.

From there, Elephant Beetle injects fraudulent transactions hidden among regular activity, ultimately stealing millions of dollars over time. The relatively small amounts of money stolen in each incremental instance allows the threat group to avert suspicion and operate virtually undetected.

While mainly focused in the Latin American market, according to Sygnia’s research, Elephant Beetle has the potential to expand its attacks to organizations worldwide. The company’s experts have already discovered a breach in the Latin American operations of a U.S.-based company.

“Elephant Beetle is a significant threat due to its highly-organized nature and the stealthy pattern with which it intelligently learns victims’ internal financial systems and operations,” said Arie Zilberstein, VP of Incident Response at Sygnia.

“Even after initial detection, our experts have found that Elephant Beetle is able to lay low and remain deeply embedded in a compromised organization’s infrastructures, enabling it to reactivate and continue stealing funds at any moment.

“Particularly in the wake of widespread vulnerabilities like Log4j that are dominating the industry conversation, organizations need to be apprised of this latest threat group and ensure their systems are prepared to prevent an attack,” said Zilberstein.

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