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Shipping companies and medical laboratories in Asia have been the subject of a suspected espionage campaign carried out by a never-before-seen threat actor dubbed Hydrochasma.

The activity, which has been ongoing since October 2022, “relies exclusively on publicly available and living-off-the-land tools,” Symantec, by Broadcom Software, said in a report shared with The Hacker News.

There is no evidence available as yet to determine its origin or affiliation with known threat actors, but the cybersecurity company said the group may be having an interest in industry verticals that are involved in COVID-19-related treatments or vaccines.

The standout aspects of the campaign is the absence of data exfiltration and custom malware, with the threat actor employing open source tools for intelligence gathering. By using already available tools, the goal, it appears, is to not only confuse attribution efforts, but also to make the attacks stealthier.

The start of the infection chain is most likely a phishing message containing a resume-themed lure document that, when launched, grants initial access to the machine.

images from Hacker News