Threat Signal Report

New Threat Actor Harvester Focuses on South Asian Targets with New Cyber Weapons

description-logo Description

FortiGuard Labs is aware of a report that a new threat actor, "Harvester," attacked targets in South Asia with previously unseen arsenals for cyber espionage. According to security vendor Symantec, the Harvester group began their activities in June 2021 and targeted telecommunications, government, and information technology (IT) organizations in the region with a special focus on Afghanistan. Symantec believes that Harvester is a nation-state-backed threat actor.

Why is this Significant?

This is significant because an alleged nation-state-backed threat actor Harvester targeted organizations in South Asia with previously unseen malware for cyber espionage. The Harvester group appears to have special focus on Afghanistan whose ongoing situation in the country is drawing international attention.

What's the Details of the Attack?

While the initial infection vector has not been identified, activities involving a URL were found on the victim's machine from which a custom backdoor, downloader and screenshotter were likely deployed. Also, Cobalt Strike and Metasploit were reportedly found on the compromised system. The custom backdoor communicates with the attacker's Command and Control (C&C) servers, where stolen data was encrypted and sent to. The custom downloader installs a DLL, creates a loadpoint and opens an embedded web browser within its own UI. The custom screenshotter takes screenshots and saves them to a password-protected zip file as part of information stealing activities.

Who are the Targets of the Harvester Group?

According to Symantec, Harvester targeted telecommunications, government, and information technology (IT) organizations in South Asia.

Is Harvester a Nation-state Threat Actor?

The security vendor indicates Harvester is a nation-state-backed threat actor, however the country that sponsors the group was not disclosed.

What is the Status of Coverage?

FortiGuard Labs provides the following AV coverage against the available files used in the attack:






All Network IOC's related to this threat are blocked by the FortiGuard WebFiltering Client.

FortiGuard Labs is investigating additional coverage. This Threat Signal will be updated when additional protection becomes available.


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.