North Korea is likely behind attacks exploiting a Korean word processing program

FireEye said forensic details match those of other cyberattacks attributed to the country

North Korea is likely behind cyberattacks that have focused on exploiting a word processing program widely used in South Korea, security firm FireEye said Thursday in a report.

The proprietary program, called Hangul Word Processor, is used primarily in the south by the government and public institutions.

The vulnerability, CVE-2015-6585, was patched three days ago by its developer Hancom.

FireEye's conclusion is interesting because only a handful of attacks have been publicly attributed to the secretive nation, which is known to have well-developed cyber capabilities.

One of the most prominent instances was the devastating attack in November 2014 against Sony Pictures, which lost sensitive corporate data and email and saw many of its computers rendered inoperable.

In a rare move, the FBI blamed North Korea for the Sony hack based on an analysis of malware suspected to have been developed by the country and used in other attacks.

FireEye said its attribution wasn't conclusive, but the targeting of a proprietary South Korean software program combined with targets in the country led it to "assess that this activity may be associated with North Korea-based threat actors."

If the malicious HWP file is opened, it installs a backdoor which FireEye nicknamed "Hangman." It's used for downloading files and probing file systems.

Once Hangman has collected data, it sends it to command-and-control servers over an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection. The IP addresses of those servers are hard-coded into Hangman and have been linked to other suspected North Korea-related attacks.

Hangman is also similar to another backdoor FireEye calls Peachpit, which may have been developed by North Korea, the report said. 

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about FBIFireEyeSony

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place