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Research shows hackers are targeting transport and shipping companies with a new trojan malware campaign.

The news comes as the logistics sector is undergoing a digital transformation, potentially increasing its vulnerability to cyber attacks. 

Paloalto Networks revealed this week it had identified a “malicious binary, named inetinfo.sys, installed on a system at an organisation within the transport and shipping sector of Kuwait”. 

It added: “Through comparative analysis, we identified related activity also targeting Kuwait between July and December 2018While there are no direct infrastructure overlaps between the two campaigns, historical analysis shows that the 2018 and 2019 activities are likely related.” 

The cyber tools were previously unknown and have raised concerns about vulnerabilities in the transport sector. 

“This report is indicative of recent trends we’re observing with transport and shipping,” said Dave Weinstein, chief security officer at cyber security company Claroty. 

Notwithstanding the attribution question, it’s noteworthy that the actors seem focused on collecting information, either for the purpose of industrial espionage or reconnaissance.   

Both the transport and shipping industries are undergoing a great deal of digital transformation to drive efficiencies, thus opening-up new attack vectors for malicious actors.   

It’s critical for organisations in these sectors to gain visibility into the intersection of their corporate and operational networks, as hackers are exploiting the former to target the latter.”  

The malware was discovered between May and June by Paloalto’s Unit 42. 

It explained: “The first known attack in this campaign targeted a Kuwait transport and shipping company in which the actors installed a backdoor tool named Hisoka.

“Several custom tools were later downloaded to the system in order to carry out post-exploitation activities. All of these tools appear to have been created by the same developer. We were able to collect several variations of these tools, including one dating back to July 2018. 

The criminal developer used character names from the anime series Hunter x Hunter.   

Paloalto added: “We are tracking this activity very closely, and will continue analysis in order to determine a more solid connection to known threat groups.” 

The risk of cyber crime to shipping and logistics was amply demonstrated by last year’s NotPetya attack on Maersk, which cost the shiping group some $300m.  

FedEx’s subsidiary TNT was also hit and is now facing legal action by a shareholder who claimed FedEx was not transparent about the costs and effects of the attack, and it “permanently” lost business as a result.  

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