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Threat Group Cards: A Threat Actor Encyclopedia

Permanent link APT group: Mustang Panda, Bronze President

NamesMustang Panda (CrowdStrike)
Bronze President (SecureWorks)
TEMP.Hex (FireEye)
HoneyMyte (Kaspersky)
CountryChina China
MotivationInformation theft and espionage
First seen2014
Description(CrowdStrike) In April 2017, CrowdStrike Falcon Intelligence observed a previously unattributed actor group with a Chinese nexus targeting a U.S.-based think tank. Further analysis revealed a wider campaign with unique tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs). This adversary targets non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in general, but uses Mongolian language decoys and themes, suggesting this actor has a specific focus on gathering intelligence on Mongolia. These campaigns involve the use of shared malware like Poison Ivy or PlugX.

Recently, Falcon Intelligence observed new activity from Mustang Panda, using a unique infection chain to target likely Mongolia-based victims. This newly observed activity uses a series of redirections and fileless, malicious implementations of legitimate tools to gain access to the targeted systems. Additionally, Mustang Panda actors reused previously-observed legitimate domains to host files.

Also see RedDelta.
ObservedSectors: Aviation, Government, NGOs, Think Tanks.
Countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, USA, Vietnam and UN.
Tools usedCobalt Strike, PlugX, Poison Ivy.
Operations performed2014Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) researchers have observed BRONZE PRESIDENT activity since mid-2018 but identified artifacts suggesting that the threat actors may have been conducting network intrusions as far back as 2014.
<https://www.secureworks.com/research/bronze-president-targets-ngos>
Aug 2019In mid-August 2019, the Anomali Threat Research Team discovered suspicious “.lnk” files during routine intelligence collection. While the distribution method of these documents cannot be confirmed at this time, it is likely that spearphishing is being utilized because it aligns with Mustang Panda’s TTPs, and it is a common tactic used amongst APT actors.
<https://www.anomali.com/blog/china-based-apt-mustang-panda-targets-minority-groups-public-and-private-sector-organizations#When:17:14:00Z>
Jan 2020Avira’s Advanced Threat Research team discovered a new version of PlugX from the Mustang Panda APT that is used to spy on some targets in Hong Kong and Vietnam. The way that the APT actor infects the target, and launches the malicious payload is similar to previous versions—but with some differences.
<https://insights.oem.avira.com/new-wave-of-plugx-targets-hong-kong/>
Mar 2020Vietnamese cyber-security firm VinCSS detected a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group (codenamed Mustang Panda) spreading emails with a RAR file attachment purporting to carry a message about the coronavirus outbreak from the Vietnamese Prime Minister.
<https://blog.vincss.net/2020/03/re012-phan-tich-ma-doc-loi-dung-dich-COVID-19-de-phat-tan-gia-mao-chi-thi-cua-thu-tuong-Nguyen-Xuan-Phuc.html>
Mar 2020ATR identified that the Higaisa and Mustang Panda Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups have been utilizing Coronavirus-themed lures in their campaigns.
<https://www.anomali.com/blog/covid-19-themes-are-being-utilized-by-threat-actors-of-varying-sophistication#When:14:00:00Z>
Information<https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/meet-crowdstrikes-adversary-of-the-month-for-june-mustang-panda/>

Last change to this card: 30 July 2020

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