Threat Signal Report

CISA and NCSC Advisory for APT 29 - Attacks on Multiple Countries Conducting COVID-19 Vaccine Research

description-logo Description

Today, The United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the United States CyberSecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a joint report on threat actors attempting to collect information on COVID-19 vaccine research and development. The report by NCSC and the three Malware Analysis Reports (MAR) from CISA are for campaigns attributed to a threat actor also known as "Cozy Bear," "Duke" and "APT29" which are attributed to Russia. This report highlights a recently discovered campaign that is targeting multiple organizations in Canada, The United Kingdom, and The United States.

Contained within these sample sets are (36) unique samples. The names associated with these reports by CISA are: WELLMAIL, SOREFANG, and WELLMESS.

AR20-198C : MAR-10296782-3.v1 - WELLMAIL

AR20-198A : MAR-10296782-1.v1 - SOREFANG

AR20-198B : MAR-10296782-2.v1 - WELLMESS

WELLMAIL - Contains ELF implants for remote command execution via compressed scripts that will be exfiltrated to a remote server.

SOREFANG - Samples in this report contain a first stage HTTP downloader that downloads a second stage payload. This set of samples specifically target Sangfor devices.

WELLMESS - This report contains a breakdown of Golang samples that collect information for C2 communications and can arbitrarily execution shell commands

Why is APT29/Cozy Bear/Duke Significant?

APT29/Cozy Bear/Duke has been in operation since 2008. Previous attacks attributed to this threat actor have been various companies, governmental agencies, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and think tanks across multiple countries. Other high profile attacks attributed to this group are the attacks on the United States Pentagon in 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) email leaks in 2016, and various United States think tanks and NGOS in 2017. Although APT29 is attributed to Russia, it is not to be confused with APT28/Fancy Bear/Pawn Storm, which is another group attributed to Russia. APT28 was responsible for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) attacks before the Rio Olympics (2016) and was also responsible for the DNC attacks in 2016 as well.

What is the Severity of Impact?

The severity should be regarded as low, due to the fact that these campaigns have been observed in limited, targeted attacks.

What is the status of AV and IPS coverage?

Customers running the latest AV definitions are protected with the following signature sets:













IPS coverage is not feasible for this event.

All network IOC's are blocked by the WebFiltering client.


Traffic Light Protocol

Color When Should it Be used? How may it be shared?


Not for disclosure, restricted to participants only.
Sources may use TLP:RED when information cannot be effectively acted upon by additional parties, and could lead to impacts on a party's privacy, reputation, or operations if misused. Recipients may not share TLP:RED information with any parties outside of the specific exchange, meeting, or conversation in which it was originally disclosed. In the context of a meeting, for example, TLP:RED information is limited to those present at the meeting. In most circumstances, TLP:RED should be exchanged verbally or in person.


Limited disclosure, restricted to participants’ organizations.
Sources may use TLP:AMBER when information requires support to be effectively acted upon, yet carries risks to privacy, reputation, or operations if shared outside of the organizations involved. Recipients may only share TLP:AMBER information with members of their own organization, and with clients or customers who need to know the information to protect themselves or prevent further harm. Sources are at liberty to specify additional intended limits of the sharing: these must be adhered to.


Limited disclosure, restricted to the community.
Sources may use TLP:GREEN when information is useful for the awareness of all participating organizations as well as with peers within the broader community or sector. Recipients may share TLP:GREEN information with peers and partner organizations within their sector or community, but not via publicly accessible channels. Information in this category can be circulated widely within a particular community. TLP:GREEN information may not be released outside of the community.


Disclosure is not limited.
Sources may use TLP:WHITE when information carries minimal or no foreseeable risk of misuse, in accordance with applicable rules and procedures for public release. Subject to standard copyright rules, TLP:WHITE information may be distributed without restriction.