Rising Cyber Threat: APT28 and REF292 Hacking Collectives Target Businesses

Rising Cyber Threat: APT28 and REF292 Hacking Collectives Target Businesses

Elena Silva
2 min read

Hacking Collectives Exploit Microsoft Graph API for Malicious Activities

Recent reports reveal that multiple hacking collectives, including APT28 and REF2924, have been leveraging the Microsoft Graph API to conceal their communications with command-and-control (C2) infrastructure. This technique, employed for the past 2.5 years, has raised concerns due to its potential impact on cloud security and user trust. Notably, the use of this API has facilitated the spread of a new malware variant, BirdyClient, affecting an unnamed Ukrainian organization. The reliance on Microsoft cloud services for hosting malware has proven appealing to threat actors due to its reliability and cost efficiency, particularly demonstrated by APT28, a state-sponsored Russian group known for its exploitation of Microsoft solutions for nefarious purposes.

Key Takeaways

  • Hacking collectives have adopted the Microsoft Graph API to obfuscate their interactions with C2 infrastructure
  • Notable collectives, including APT28 and REF2924, have utilized this method for over 2.5 years
  • The emergence of the BirdyClient malware has targeted an undisclosed Ukrainian entity
  • Hackers are leveraging Microsoft cloud services for hosting malware, capitalizing on its trustworthiness and cost-effectiveness
  • APT28, a Russian state-sponsored threat actor, continues to exploit Microsoft solutions for malicious ends


The exploitation of the Microsoft Graph API by hacking collectives presents significant implications for Microsoft and the broader technology industry. The abuse of reputable cloud services for hosting malware, as evidenced by the BirdyClient variant, not only jeopardizes the security of targeted entities but also erodes user confidence in cloud-based safeguards. This development may prompt Microsoft to bolster its security measures, potentially leading to more stringent API usage guidelines and enhanced malware detection protocols.

Nations with state-backed threat actors, exemplified by Russia in the case of APT28, face potential economic repercussions and reputational damage. Consequently, there may be an upsurge in the demand for financial instruments like cybersecurity insurance, as businesses strive to mitigate the escalating risks posed by cyber threats. Long-term implications underscore the imperative for global collaboration in establishing cybersecurity standards and regulations to safeguard critical infrastructure and foster trust in digital ecosystems.

Did You Know?

Here are three fundamental concepts from the provided news article, which may be unfamiliar to average business and tech professionals:

  • Hacking Collectives: These are collaborative groups engaged in malicious activities, including hacking, data breaches, and cyber espionage. Notable examples mentioned in the article are APT28, REF2924, Red Stinger, Flea, APT29, and Oilrig.
  • Microsoft Graph API: It is a RESTful web API enabling developers to access Microsoft cloud service resources. In this context, hacking collectives are utilizing the Microsoft Graph API to conceal their communications with C2 infrastructure, complicating the detection and prevention of malicious activities by security professionals.
  • Command-and-Control (C2) Infrastructure: This comprises a network of servers and systems used by hackers to remotely control compromised devices. Hacking collectives frequently rely on C2 infrastructure to oversee malware on infected devices, exfiltrate data, and sustain a presence in the targeted network. The allure of using Microsoft cloud services for hosting C2 infrastructure lies in its trusted and cost-effective nature.

By integrating these new insights and shedding light on the intricate web of cyber threats, we aim to invigorate critical thinking and drive informed discussions within the business and tech spheres.

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