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Sea Turtle Keeps on Swimming


July 9, 2019 - 0 Comments

By Danny Adamitis with contributions from Paul Rascagneres.

Executive summary

After several months of activity, the actors behind the “Sea Turtle” DNS hijacking campaign are not slowing down. Cisco Talos recently discovered new details that suggest they regrouped after we published our initial findings and coverage and are redoubling their efforts with new infrastructure. While many actors will slow down once they are discovered, this group appears to be unusually brazen, and will be unlikely to be deterred going forward.

Additionally, we discovered a new DNS hijacking technique that we assess with moderate confidence is connected to the actors behind Sea Turtle. This new technique is similar in that the threat actors compromise the name server records and respond to DNS requests with falsified A records. This new technique has only been observed in a few highly targeted operations. We also identified a new wave of victims, including a country code top-level domain (ccTLD) registry, which manages the DNS records for every domain uses that particular country code, that access was used to then compromise additional government entities. Unfortunately, unless there are significant changes made to better secure DNS, these sorts of attacks are going to remain prevalent.

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