Hacktivist group shares details related to Belarusian Railways hack

The Belarusian Cyber Partisans have shared documents related to another hack, and explained that Curated Intel member, SttyK, would “understand some of the methods used.”

Written by @BushidoToken and edited by @SteveD3

On Monday 24 January 2022, a Belarusian hacktivist group going by the name Belarusian Cyber-Partisans claimed responsibility for a limited attack against the national railway company. A primary objective of the attack, they claimed, was aimed at hindering Russian troop movements inside Belarus.

In public media reports, it has been stated that the rail service’s website issued a warning to passengers that some e-ticket systems were unavailable (source: rw[.]by), seemingly confirming the Cyber-Partisans’ claims that they targeted network assets in order to disrupt operations. The Belarusian government has not commented on the incident.

On Tuesday 24 January, Curated Intelligence member @SttyK obtained documents from Cyber-Partisans, which the group claimed would help SttyK “understand some of the methods used” during the attack. Initially SttyK reached out to the group seeking access to the malware used in the attack, which would have then been studied. However, the group declined to share the code, but noted they would “gladly do that once the authoritarian regime in Belarus is gone.”

Known Information:

Based on public reporting and previous interviews, the Belarusian Cyber-Partisans are "a group of 15 self taught hacktivists who claim to have assistance and support from disaffected Belarusian security forces" (source: CyberScoop). The group has been closely associated with a series of government website defacement operations. Last August, the group spoke to Patrick Howell O’Neill at Technology Review,  in a rather informative interview, should anyone want some additional background. 

New Information:

As mentioned, SttyK reached out to the group in order to obtain malware samples for study. Instead, what the group responded with were a series of documents. These documents represent a report based on an investigation into an attack on 14 March 2021, which concluded on 8 April of the same year.

Editor Note: One of the first questions asked internally by Curated Intelligence members was “why?”. Why are they sharing such details, and what do they have to gain by exposing a previously released incident report? There are a number of answers to that question, but the key answer is exposure. As is the case with articles in major publications, blogs such as this one give hacktivists attention to their cause. So then the question becomes, is the information they shared with us of importance to the public (yes, it is). Thus giving them attention is worth the trade-off in our opinions, and serves our goal of informing the public.

The Stolen Incident Response Report: 

  • The report was first mentioned in a YouTube video on the Cyber-Partisans’ own YouTube Channel in November 2021 (see here)

  • The investigation and report began on 25 March 2021 and was done by VirusBlokAda (the antivirus firm that also first discovered Stuxnet)

  • The incident report costed 2530.00 BYN (worth an estimated $1,000 USD)

  • In the report, the initial date of compromise was discovered to be 14 March 2021

  • According to the report, the victim was the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Belarus

Fig. 1 - Confirmation of who the victim was in the report

Fig. 2 - The incident report costed 2530.00 BYN (worth $1,000)

Fig. 3 - Initial date of compromise was 14 March 2021

Fig. 4 - Screenshot of files containing employee data being deleted

Fig. 5 - Screenshot of files in the backup server being deleted

Fig. 6 - Screenshot of the report mentioning the use of Impacket

Fig. 7 - Screenshot of the report mentioning the use of Chisel

Fig. 8 - Screenshot of the report mentioning the use of 3proxy[.]ru

3proxy - https://3proxy.org/

Fig. 9 - Screenshot of the report mentioning 3389 (RDP) port forwarding over TCP

Fig. 10 - Screenshot of the report mentioning the use of Nmap, Mimikatz, CVE-2019-0708

Considering this was a full incident response investigation that cost less than $1,000 it is unsurprising that the findings are unclear. The attack chain was not fully explained, but we have tried to piece it together as best we can with the help of a Curated Intelligence member, @0xDISREL, who can read and write Russian. We still are not confident this is a full accurate representation of the group's TTPs, but should help nonetheless.

Summary of Attack:

  • Initial access via BlueKeep RCE (CVE-2019-0708) in RDP in a Windows Server 2008 R2 system

  • Used the 3proxy[.]ru service to launch attacks from a VPS

  • Use of Mimikatz to dump LSASS (SYSTEM level privileges are required however, how they obtained these is currently unclear)

  • Nmap to identify systems (used Nmap to identify systems with Port 3389 open)

  • Used RDP to move laterally 

  • Eventually landed on the victim's Domain Controller

  • Configured TCP port forwarding to open Port 3389 to the internet for persistent access

  • Deleted data (such as employee records) from live and backup systems

Indicators of Compromise (IOCs):












VPS Proxy

Threat Hunting Tips:

Executed commands:
  • mstcpsvc32 %COMSPEC% /Q /c echo net user aaiadmin /domain ^> \\\ADMIN$\hibfile.sys 2^>^&1 > %TEMP%\execute.bat & %COMSPEC% /Q /c %TEMP%\execute.bat & del %TEMP%\execute.bat
Forwarded Ports:
  • 3389 (RDP) -> Port 9000
  • 3389 (RDP) -> Port 9001
  • 4899 (RAdmin) -> Port 9002
  • 3389 (RDP) -> Port 9003
User Accounts:
  • They used the default user aaiadmin
Cyber Kill Chain:
Curated Intelligence member, @TrevorGiffen, roughly mapped the intrusion analysis to Cyber Kill Chain, Diamond Model, and MITRE ATT&CK.
Diamond Model with MITRE ATT&CK: