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A China-linked government-sponsored threat actor observed striking European diplomatic entities in March may have been targeting Russian government officials with an updated version of a remote access trojan called PlugX.

Secureworks attributed the attempted intrusions to a threat actor it tracks as Bronze President, and by the wider cybersecurity community under the monikers Mustang Panda, TA416, HoneyMyte, RedDelta, and PKPLUG.

“The war in Ukraine has prompted many countries to deploy their cyber capabilities to gain insight about global events, political machinations, and motivations,” the cybersecurity firm said in a report shared with The Hacker News. “This desire for situational awareness often extends to collecting intelligence from allies and ‘friends.'”

Bronze President, active since at least July 2018, has a history of conducting espionage operations by leveraging custom and publicly available tools to compromise, maintain long-term access, and collect data from targets of interest.

Chief among its tools is PlugX, a Windows backdoor that enables threat actors to execute a variety of commands on infected systems and which has been employed by several Chinese state-sponsored actors over the years.

images from Hacker News