Russian hackers tried breaching NATO country’s petroleum refining company

Trident Ursa, a Russian hacker group linked to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), revs up the pace of intelligence gathering by targeting NATO countries.

FSB-linked hackers attempted to breach a large petroleum refining company within a NATO member, researchers from Palo Alto‘s specialized cyber defense team Unit 42 claim.

According to the report, the endeavor took place on August 30. However, the attack did not bear fruit, as Moscow‘s hackers failed to penetrate the energy company.

The attempted attack somewhat deviates from the usual modus operandi of Trident Ursa, as the collective prefers targeting Ukrainian organizations using Ukrainian language lures.

This time, threat actors tried their luck in using English language lures to target entities supporting Ukraine. Researchers surmise that the hacking attempt points to the Russians trying to boost their network access and intelligence collection capabilities.

Report’s authors claim that the petroleum refinery was targeted with malicious files named to imply they cover efforts for military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.

“This group’s operations are regularly caught by researchers and government organizations, and yet they don’t seem to care. They simply add additional obfuscation, new domains and new techniques and try again – often even reusing previous samples,” researchers claim.

EU cybersecurity agency ENISA recently noted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to more damaging and widespread cybersecurity attacks. The agency said geopolitical situations - particularly the Russian invasion of Ukraine - were game-changers during the period under review.

Cyberwarfare has been plaguing Europe since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Civilian hacktivist groups supporting Ukraine started targeting organizations in Russia to help the country defend against the invasion. Meanwhile, pro-Russian groups carried out several DDoS attacks against countries supporting Ukraine.

According to the United Nations, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the ‘fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.’ Witness testimonies from Ukrainian towns Russian forces have occupied point to severe human rights violations and targeted lethal attacks against civilians.