New APT Group ‘Lotus Bane’ Behind Recent Attacks on Vietnam’s Financial Entities

Mar 06, 2024NewsroomCyber Attack / Malware

A financial entity in Vietnam was the target of a previously undocumented threat actor called Lotus Bane that was first detected in March 2023.

Singapore-headquartered Group-IB described the hacking outfit as an advanced persistent threat group that’s believed to have been active since at least 2022.

The exact specifics of the infection chain remain unknown as yet, but it involves the use of various malicious artifacts that serve as the stepping stone for the next-stage.

“The cybercriminals used methods such as DLL side-loading and data exchange via named pipes to run malicious executables and create remote scheduled tasks for lateral movement,” the company said.


Group-IB told The Hacker News that the techniques used by Lotus Bane overlap with that of OceanLotus, a Vietnam-aligned threat actor also known as APT32, Canvas Cyclone (formerly Bismuth), and Cobalt Kitty. This stems from the use of malware like PIPEDANCE for named pipes communication.

It’s worth noting that PIPEDANCE was first documented by Elastic Security Labs in February 2023 in connection with a cyber attack targeting an unnamed Vietnamese organization in late December 2022.

“This similarity suggests possible connections with or inspirations from OceanLotus, however, the different target industries make it likely that they are different,” Anastasia Tikhonova, head of Threat Intelligence for APAC at Group-IB, said.

“Lotus Bane is actively engaging in attacks primarily targeting the banking sector in the APAC region. Although the known attack was in Vietnam, the sophistication of their methods indicates the potential for broader geographical operations within APAC. The exact duration of their activity prior to this discovery is currently unclear, but ongoing investigations may shed more light on their history.”

The development comes as financial organizations across Asia-Pacific (APAC), Europe, Latin America (LATAM), and North America have been the target of several advanced persistent threat groups such as Blind Eagle and the Lazarus Group over the past year.

Another notable financially motivated threat group is UNC1945, which has been observed targeting ATM switch servers with the goal of infecting them with a custom malware called CAKETAP.


“This malware intercepts data transmitted from the ATM server to the [Hardware Security Module] server and checks it against a set of predefined conditions,” Group-IB said. “If these conditions are met, the data is altered before being sent out from the ATM server.”

UNC2891 and UNC1945 were previously detailed by Google-owned Mandiant in March 2022 as having deployed the CAKETAP rootkit on Oracle Solaris systems to intercept messages from an ATM switching network and perform unauthorized cash withdrawals at different banks using fraudulent cards.

“The presence and activities of both Lotus Bane and UNC1945 in the APAC region highlight the need for continued vigilance and robust cybersecurity measures,” Tikhonova said. “These groups, with their distinct tactics and targets, underline the complexity of protecting against financial cyber threats in today’s digital landscape.”

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