France warns of Nobelium cyberspies attacking French orgs

The French national cyber-security agency ANSSI said today that the Russian-backed Nobelium hacking group behind last year’s SolarWinds hack has been targeting French organizations since February 2021.

While ANSSI (short for Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes d’Information) has not determined how Nobelium compromised email accounts belonging to French orgs, it added that the hackers used them to deliver malicious emails targeting foreign institutions.

In turn, French public orgs were also the targets of spoofed emails sent from servers belonging to foreign entities, believed to be compromised by the same threat actor.

The infrastructure used by Nobelium in the attacks against French entities was mainly set up using virtual private servers (VPS) from different hosting companies (favoring servers from OVH and located close to the targeted countries).

Overlaps have been identified in the tactics, techniques & procedures (TTP) between the phishing campaigns monitored by ANSSI and the SOLARWINDS supply chain attack in 2020, ANSSI explained in a report published today.

To defend against this hacking group’s attacks, ANSSI recommends restricting the execution of email attachments to block malicious files delivered in phishing campaigns.

The French cyber-security agency also advises at-risk organizations to tighten Active Directory security (and AD servers in particular) using its Active Directory security hardening guide.

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