June 5, 2023

An Iran-linked APT group DEV-0270 (Nemesis Kitten) has been abusing the BitLocker Windows feature to encrypt victims’ devices, Microsoft Security Intelligence report says.

The researchers tracked multiple attacks conducted by the DEV-0270 group, which is a unit of the Iranian actor PHOSPHORUS. This group exploits popularly availabile high severity vulnerabilities to gain initial access to devices, it also extensively uses living-off-the-land binaries to harvest credentials.


The most exploited Vulnerabilities belongs to Exchange(ProxyLogon) Fortinet (CVE-2018-13379). There have been indications that DEV-0270 attempted to exploit Log4j 2 vulnerabilities, Microsoft has not observed this activity used against customers to deploy ransomware.

DEV-0270 usually obtains initial access to administrator or system-level privileges by injecting a web shell into a privileged process on a vulnerable web server, in the alternative, it creates or activates a user account to provide it with administrator privileges.

To maintain persistence in a compromised network, the DEV-0270 APT group adds or creates a new user account. The the attackers modify the registry to allow remote desktop (RDP) connections for the device, adds a rule in the firewall to allow RDP connections, and add the user to the remote desktop users group. The threat actors use scheduled tasks to maintain access to a device.

DEV-0270 has been seen using  setup.bat commands to enable BitLocker encryption. For workstations, the group uses DiskCryptor, an open-source full disk encryption system for Windows that allows for the encryption of a device’s entire hard drive.


The group drops DiskCryptor from an RDP session and when it is launched, begins the encryption. This method does require a reboot to install and another reboot to lock out access to the workstation.

Internet available devices are at risk of getting scanned and abused by this group.

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