Investigators have revealed the internal functioning of the Domestic Kitten team’s surveillance operations.
The Domestic Kitten also followed as the APT-C-50, is the leading opposition group (APT). First discovered in 2018, APT has ties to the Iranian government and is linked to domestic violence “which could be detrimental to the stability of the Iranian state,” according to Check Point.
Targeted people could include anti-government activists, human rights activists, journalists and lawyers.
In a blog post on Monday, a team of Check Point researchers said Domestic Kitten had been vigilant over the past four years, launching at least ten different campaigns and keeping a list of 1,200 people, at least.
So far, four active campaigns have been registered, the most recent of which appears to have begun in November and continues. Domestic Kitten Victims are found worldwide, including countries such as Iran, the US, Pakistan and Turkey.
APT uses a mobile malware called FurBall. The malware is based on commercially available software called KidLogger, and according to investigators, “it looks like the developers found the source code for KidLogger, or simply retrieved the sample and removed all the external components, adding more capabilities.”
FurBall is still distributed through various attacks, including phishing scams, Iranian websites, Telegram channels, and SMS messages containing malware link.
Malware uses multiple encryptions to trick the victim into installing; such as installing mobile security like “VIPRE”, pretending to be a news app, which acts as a redesigned mobile game available on Google Play, in-app stores, restaurant apps, and wallpaper apps.
Once installed on a targeted device, FurBall can receive SMS messages, capture call logs, collect device details, record contacts, steal media and saved files, monitor device GPS coordinates and therefore track their movements for purposes, and more.
Once the information has been collected from the damaged device, it can be sent to the command and control servers (C2) used by Domestic Kitten from 2018. Connected IP addresses are located in Iran, Tehran and Karaj.
On Monday, researchers at Check Point, along with SafeBreach, also unveiled the activities of a second-threatening group targeting Iranian opponents – but instead of focusing on their smartphones, their PCs are at risk.
Dubbed Infy, the APT – known to have been around since 2007 and allegedly sponsored by the government – has revived its efforts with previously unprecedented malware, major Infy malware upgrades, and repairs to previous C2 infrastructure.