The leap of a Cycldek-related threat actor

The leap of a Cycldek-related threat actor


In the nebula of Chinese-speaking threat actors, it is quite common to see tools and methodologies being shared. One such example of this is the infamous “DLL side-loading triad”: a legitimate executable, a malicious DLL to be sideloaded by it, and an encoded payload, generally dropped from a self-extracting archive. Initially considered to be the signature of LuckyMouse, we observed other groups starting to use similar “triads” such as HoneyMyte. While it implies that it is not possible to attribute attacks based on this technique alone, it also follows that efficient detection of such triads reveals more and more malicious activity.

The investigation described in this article started with one such file which caught our attention due to the various improvements it brought to this well-known infection vector.

FoundCore Loader

This malware sample was discovered in the context of an attack against a high-profile organization located in Vietnam. From a high-level perspective, the infection chain follows the expected execution flow:

After being loaded by a legitimate component from Microsoft Outlook (FINDER.exe, MD5 9F1D6B2D45F1173215439BCC4B00B6E3), outlib.dll (MD5 F267B1D3B3E16BE366025B11176D2ECB) hijacks the inte ..