Threat Signal Report

PingPull RAT Activity Observed in New in the Wild Attacks (GALLIUM APT)

description-logo Description

FortiGuard Labs is aware of a newly discovered in-the-wild remote access tool (RAT) used by GALLIUM APT, called PingPull. GALLIUM has targeted telecommunication, financial and governmental verticals, specifically in Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia in the past.

GALLIUM was first detailed by CyberReason and Microsoft in 2019 in an operation targeting telecom providers stealing call detail records (CDR) that contain transactional information of SMS messages, sent and received phone calls, timestamps and other records. GALLIUM uses various off the shelf tools, and modified open source tools and malware to attack organizations for various campaigns. PingPull was observed by Palo Alto Networks in this latest campaign. Usage of the China Chopper webshell is commonly associated with this APT group as well.

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Because of our partnership in the Cyber Threat Alliance alongside other trusted partner organizations, Fortinet customers were protected in advance of this announcement.

What is PingPull?

PingPull is a remote access trojan (RAT). What makes PingPull novel is the usage of ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) which is not a typical TCP/UDP packet, that allows the threat actor to evade detection as it is not often monitored for anomalous activity. PingPull can also leverage HTTPS and TCP as well for further evasion.

PingPull has been observed to install itself as a service for persistence. Besides containing typical RAT functionality, PingPull allows for a reverse shell further adding insult to injury. Previous RATs used by GALLIUM were modified versions of Poison Ivy and Gh0st Rat.


GALLIUM is an APT group attributed to the Chinese government. The modus operandi of this group is to use various off the shelf tools to eventually compromise an organization via the utilization of stolen certificates to ultimately perform lateral movement within. Due to non-standardized APT naming conventions, GALLIUM is also known as Operation Soft Cell (CyberReason).

What is the Status of Coverage?

FortiGuard customers are protected against PingPull RAT by the following (AV) signatures:



All known URIs 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.