An Indian hack-for-hire group targeted the U.S., China, Myanmar, Pakistan, Kuwait, and other countries as part of a wide-ranging espionage, surveillance, and disruptive operation for over a decade.
The Appin Software Security (aka Appin Security Group), according to an in-depth analysis from SentinelOne, began as an educational startup offering offensive security training programs, while carrying out covert hacking operations since at least 2009.
In May 2013, ESET disclosed a set of cyber attacks targeting Pakistan with information-stealing malware. While the activity was attributed to a cluster tracked as Hangover (aka Patchwork or Zinc Emerson), evidence shows that the infrastructure is owned and controlled by Appin.
“The group has conducted hacking operations against high value individuals, governmental organizations, and other businesses involved in specific legal disputes,” SentinelOne security Tom Hegel said in a comprehensive analysis published last week.
“Appin’s hacking operations and overall organization appear at many times informal, clumsy, and technically crude; however, their operations proved highly successful for their customers, impacting world affairs with significant success.”
The findings are based on non-public data obtained by Reuters, which called out Appin for orchestrating data theft attacks on an industrial scale against political leaders, international executives, sports figures, and others. The company, in response, has dismissed its connection with the hack-for-hire business.
One of the core services offered by Appin was a tool “MyCommando” (aka GoldenEye or Commando) that allowed its customers to log in to view and download campaign-specific data and status updates, communicate securely, and choose from various task options that range from open-source research to social engineering to a trojan campaign.
The targeting of China and Pakistan is confirmation that an Indian-origin mercenary group has been roped in to conduct…
“The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of like is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.” —William Arthur Ward