Hackers have stepped up their efforts to tap into cryptocurrencies, even as they continue to cash in on the current geopolitical issues like the Ukrainian crisis.

The number of APTs (Advanced Persistent Threats) have continued to grow in the first quarter of 2022 as hackers continue to sharpen their tools to launch the attacks, according to Kaspersky, a Moscow-based cybersecurity solutions company.

APTs are organised cliques gaining access to networks and systems and lurking there for long periods to steal sensitive data.

Unlike most state-sponsored APT groups, Lazarus and other threat actors associated with this APT have made financial gain their primary goals. It distributed Trojanised decentralised finance (DeFi) apps in order to increase profit.

“Lazarus abuses legitimate applications used to manage cryptocurrency wallets by distributing malware that provides control over victims’ systems,” it said in the status of cyber attacks in the first quarter. The cyber mercenary group dubbed DeathStalker continues updating its unsophisticated tools to make attacks more efficient during the quarter.

“APT actors had a busy quarter. Both recently uncovered and ongoing campaigns conducted by new and well-known operators made significant changes to the APT threat landscape,” Kaspersky said.

Mostly targeting businesses and governmental entities, APT actors updated already existing malicious toolsets and diversified their techniques to elevate attacks.

Cashing in on Ukrainian crisis

The hackers have lost no time in tapping the opportunity around the Ukrainian crisis. HermeticRansom, DoubleZero and many other new attacks targeting Ukrainian entities were reported during the quarter.

“Geopolitics have always been the main driver of APT attacks. We are living in turbulent times,” David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky’s GreAT, said.

“This means that organizations need to be as alert as ever and make sure they are armed with threat intelligence and the right tools to protect from existing and emerging threats,” he said.

How to be safe

Besides putting in place a good endpoint protection, organisations need to equip themselves with a corporate-grade security solution to detect advanced network level threats. .

As hackers use very basic methods like phishing or social engineering techniques to sneak into , it is also important to sensitise the staff on issues related to cyber threats and security.