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Threat Group Cards: A Threat Actor Encyclopedia

Permanent link APT group: Mustang Panda, Bronze President

NamesMustang Panda (CrowdStrike)
Bronze President (SecureWorks)
TEMP.Hex (FireEye)
HoneyMyte (Kaspersky)
Red Lich (PWC)
Earth Preta (Trend Micro)
Camaro Dragon (Check Point)
Stately Taurus (Palo Alto)
CountryChina China
SponsorState-sponsored
MotivationInformation theft and espionage
First seen2012
Description(CrowdStrike) In April 2017, CrowdStrike Falcon Intelligence observed a previously unattributed actor group with a Chinese nexus targeting a U.S.-based think tank. Further analysis revealed a wider campaign with unique tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). This adversary targets non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in general, but uses Mongolian language decoys and themes, suggesting this actor has a specific focus on gathering intelligence on Mongolia. These campaigns involve the use of shared malware like Poison Ivy or PlugX.

Recently, Falcon Intelligence observed new activity from Mustang Panda, using a unique infection chain to target likely Mongolia-based victims. This newly observed activity uses a series of redirections and fileless, malicious implementations of legitimate tools to gain access to the targeted systems. Additionally, Mustang Panda actors reused previously-observed legitimate domains to host files.

Also see RedDelta.
ObservedSectors: Aviation, Education, Government, NGOs, Think Tanks, Telecommunications.
Countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Czech, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, USA, Vietnam and UN.
Tools usedAdFind, China Chopper, Cobalt Strike, DCSync, Hdump, Hodur, HopperTick, Impacket, LadonGo, nbtscan, Mimikatz, MQsTTang, NetSess, Netview, nmap, Orat, Poison Ivy, PlugX, PowerView, PUBLOAD, PVE Find AD Users, RCSession, ShadowPad Winnti, TeamViewer, TinyNote, TONEINS, TONESHELL, WmiExec, WispRider.
Operations performed2014Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) researchers have observed BRONZE PRESIDENT activity since mid-2018 but identified artifacts suggesting that the threat actors may have been conducting network intrusions as far back as 2014.
<https://www.secureworks.com/research/bronze-president-targets-ngos>
Aug 2019In mid-August 2019, the Anomali Threat Research Team discovered suspicious “.lnk” files during routine intelligence collection. While the distribution method of these documents cannot be confirmed at this time, it is likely that spearphishing is being utilized because it aligns with Mustang Panda’s TTPs, and it is a common tactic used amongst APT actors.
<https://www.anomali.com/blog/china-based-apt-mustang-panda-targets-minority-groups-public-and-private-sector-organizations#When:17:14:00Z>
Jan 2020Avira’s Advanced Threat Research team discovered a new version of PlugX from the Mustang Panda APT that is used to spy on some targets in Hong Kong and Vietnam. The way that the APT actor infects the target, and launches the malicious payload is similar to previous versions—but with some differences.
<https://insights.oem.avira.com/new-wave-of-plugx-targets-hong-kong/>
Mar 2020Vietnamese cyber-security firm VinCSS detected a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group (codenamed Mustang Panda) spreading emails with a RAR file attachment purporting to carry a message about the coronavirus outbreak from the Vietnamese Prime Minister.
<https://blog.vincss.net/2020/03/re012-phan-tich-ma-doc-loi-dung-dich-COVID-19-de-phat-tan-gia-mao-chi-thi-cua-thu-tuong-Nguyen-Xuan-Phuc.html>
Mar 2020ATR identified that the Higaisa and Mustang Panda Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups have been utilizing Coronavirus-themed lures in their campaigns.
<https://www.anomali.com/blog/covid-19-themes-are-being-utilized-by-threat-actors-of-varying-sophistication#When:14:00:00Z>
Mar 2021Indonesian intelligence agency compromised in suspected Chinese hack
<https://therecord.media/indonesian-intelligence-agency-compromised-in-suspected-chinese-hack/>
Mid 2021Cyberespionage Attacks Against Southeast Asian Government Linked to Stately Taurus, Aka Mustang Panda
<https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/stately-taurus-attacks-se-asian-government/>
Aug 2021Mustang Panda’s Hodur: Old tricks, new Korplug variant
<https://www.welivesecurity.com/2022/03/23/mustang-panda-hodur-old-tricks-new-korplug-variant/>
Feb 2022Mustang Panda or Temp.Hex, a China-based threat actor, targeted European entities with lures related to the Ukrainian invasion.
<https://blog.google/threat-analysis-group/update-threat-landscape-ukraine/>
Feb 2022Mustang Panda deploys a new wave of malware targeting Europe
<https://blog.talosintelligence.com/2022/05/mustang-panda-targets-europe.html>
Feb 2022Mustang Panda Uses the Russian-Ukrainian War to Attack Europe and Asia Pacific Targets
<https://blogs.blackberry.com/en/2022/12/mustang-panda-uses-the-russian-ukrainian-war-to-attack-europe-and-asia-pacific-targets>
Mar 2022BRONZE PRESIDENT Targets Russian Speakers with Updated PlugX
<https://www.secureworks.com/blog/bronze-president-targets-russian-speakers-with-updated-plugx>
Mar 2022Earth Preta Spear-Phishing Governments Worldwide
<https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/22/k/earth-preta-spear-phishing-governments-worldwide.html>
Jun 2022BRONZE PRESIDENT Targets Government Officials
<https://www.secureworks.com/blog/bronze-president-targets-government-officials>
2022Earth Preta’s Cyberespionage Campaign Hits Over 200
<https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/23/c/earth-preta-cyberespionage-campaign-hits-over-200.html>
Oct 2022Pack it Secretly: Earth Preta’s Updated Stealthy Strategies
<https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/23/c/earth-preta-updated-stealthy-strategies.html>
Dec 2022Operation “SmugX”
SmugX: Unveiling a Chinese-Based APT Operation Targeting European Governmental Entities: Check Point Research Exposes a Shifting Trend
<https://blog.checkpoint.com/securing-user-and-access/smugx-unveiling-a-chinese-based-apt-operation-targeting-european-governmental-entities-check-point-research-exposes-a-shifting-trend/>
Jan 2023MQsTTang: Mustang Panda’s latest backdoor treads new ground with Qt and MQTT
<https://www.welivesecurity.com/2023/03/02/mqsttang-mustang-panda-latest-backdoor-treads-new-ground-qt-mqtt/>
Jan 2023Malware Spotlight: Camaro Dragon’s TinyNote Backdoor
<https://research.checkpoint.com/2023/malware-spotlight-camaro-dragons-tinynote-backdoor/>
Early 2023Beyond the Horizon: Traveling the World on Camaro Dragon’s USB Flash Drives
<https://research.checkpoint.com/2023/beyond-the-horizon-traveling-the-world-on-camaro-dragons-usb-flash-drives/>
Apr 2023New Mustang Panda’s campaing against Australia
<https://lab52.io/blog/new-mustang-pandas-campaing-against-australia/>
May 2023Check Point Research reveals a malicious firmware implant for TP-Link routers, linked to Chinese APT group
<https://blog.checkpoint.com/security/check-point-research-reveals-a-malicious-firmware-implant-for-tp-link-routers-linked-to-chinese-apt-group/>
Aug 2023In August, ESET researchers identified a campaign by Mustang Panda targeting a governmental organization in Slovakia.
<https://web-assets.esetstatic.com/wls/en/papers/threat-reports/eset-apt-activity-report-q2-2023-q3-2023.pdf>
Aug 2023Stately Taurus Targets the Philippines As Tensions Flare in the South Pacific
<https://unit42.paloaltonetworks.com/stately-taurus-targets-philippines-government-cyberespionage/>
Information<https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/meet-crowdstrikes-adversary-of-the-month-for-june-mustang-panda/>
<https://www.trendmicro.com/en_us/research/23/f/behind-the-scenes-unveiling-the-hidden-workings-of-earth-preta.html>
MITRE ATT&CK<https://attack.mitre.org/groups/G0129/>

Last change to this card: 30 November 2023

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