Microsoft security researchers have discovered a post-compromise capability we’re calling MagicWeb, which is used by a threat actor we track as NOBELIUM to maintain persistent access to compromised environments. NOBELIUM remains highly active, executing multiple campaigns in parallel targeting government organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), and think tanks across the US, Europe, and Central Asia. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) assesses that MagicWeb was likely deployed during an ongoing compromise and was leveraged by NOBELIUM possibly to maintain access during strategic remediation steps that could preempt eviction.
NOBELIUM has used abuse of identities and credentialed access as a method for maintaining persistence, and a specialized capability like MagicWeb is not novel for the actor: in September 2021, Microsoft disclosed a post-exploitation capability named FoggyWeb with methods and intent similar to MagicWeb. FoggyWeb was capable of exfiltrating the configuration database of compromised AD FS servers, decrypting token-signing certificates and token-decryption certificates, and downloading and executing additional malware components. MagicWeb goes beyond the collection capabilities of FoggyWeb by facilitating covert access directly. MagicWeb is a malicious DLL that allows manipulation of the claims passed in tokens generated by an Active Directory Federated Services (AD FS) server. It manipulates the user authentication certificates used for authentication, not the signing certificates used in attacks like Golden SAML.
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