Operation BugDrop

Operation BugDrop refers to a new form of malware that surreptitiously infects desktop and laptop computers and uses the PC’s microphone to secretly record audio. The BugDrop malware then exports the audio data from infected computers to Dropbox files for retrieval and analysis by cybercriminals.

The security firm CyberX discovered the large-scale “cyber-reconnaissance” Operation BugDrop in February 2016, and found the malware was targeting more than 70 targets in the Ukraine. The malware gets its name from the way it “bugs” offices and enterprise environments by remotely controlling computer microphones and then “drops” the recorded data into Dropbox.

In addition to recording audio, Operation BugDrop also attempts to capture sensitive information and details by taking secret screenshots, obtaining documents and gathering passwords and login credentials. The malware has targeted a variety of industries, including scientific research, media operations and critical infrastructure.

How Operation BugDrop Infiltrates Computers and Enterprises

Operation BugDrop infiltrates organizations and computers using phishing attacks in which messages masquerading as legitimate Microsoft Office emails encourage users to enable macros, which then facilitates the BugDrop installation.

The malware then uses complex techniques to avoid detection, including encrypting the DLL files and installing them using DLL injection, disguising the main downloader, and sending audio recording files in a manner that appears to be legitimate file transfers.

Once the Operation BugDrop malware infects an organization, “it effectively turns every computer into a bug that in some ways is far more effective than if intelligence operatives had actually planted bugs in the same offices,” according to eWeek.

Operation BugDrop Security Implications and What to Watch For

Operation BugDrop has gained considerable attention recently because it’s a new form of malware with a unique form of stealing sensitive information and also because while so far it’s been limited to Ukrainian targets, it could be turned loose anywhere, including in the U.S.

CyberX claims the best method for determining whether a network has been compromised by Operation BugDrop is to monitor outgoing traffic from the network for signs of exfiltration in particular, large amounts of data being sent to Dropbox daily.

Forrest Stroud
Forrest Stroud
Forrest is a writer for Webopedia. Experienced, entrepreneurial, and well-rounded, he has 15+ years covering technology, business software, website design, programming, and more.

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