Cyber Threat Profile Red WinterDog


The following post describes the modus operandi analysis of a threat actor named Red WinterDog by SCILabs as, which operates the BlackDog and BlackBelen malware families.

Red WinterDog targets users of all types in Mexico, including employees of organizations intending to steal victims’ banking and personal information, and business email accounts, using web browser malicious extensions designed primarily for Google Chrome and Edge. The initial access vectors are mainly malvertising campaigns in search engines such as DuckDuck Go and Bing, in addition to possible phishing campaigns, impersonating governmental organizations in Mexico such as the Registro Nacional de Población (RENAPO) and the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT).

Our research shows that Red WinterDog has been operating predominantly in Mexico since June 2022, making constant updates to its TTPs to evade security solutions or hinder analysis by cyber threat researchers. SCILabs detected the last activity of this adversary during May 2023.

Geographical region of operation

As a result of the open-source intelligence process and the analysis of the malicious artifacts used by this threat group, SCILabs determined with a high level of confidence that the primary country of operation is Mexico.

Figure 1. Red WinterDog activity map

Based on our research, we present a timeline of Red WinterDog’s most relevant activities from June 2022 to January 2023.

Figure 2. Timelne of Red WinterDog campaigns

About the victims

During constant monitoring of the region, SCILabs identified that Red WinterDog’s main target is end users in Mexico; however, malvertising campaigns can affect the reputation of some government institutions and financial entities due to the adversary’s brand impersonation.

Threat group’s operating model

Red WinterDog distributes its malware using malvertising campaigns on search engines such as DuckDuck Go and Bing, as well as possible phishing campaigns impersonating government institutions in Mexico. Based on a trends analysis conducted through open sources, we observed that the words CURP and SAT are two of the most searched words by users in Mexico, along with other words such as CFE or “Pasaporte”.  It is likely that adversaries also perform this type of analysis to determine which organizations they are going to impersonate in their malicious advertising campaigns and thus reach the largest number of potential victims.

Figure 3. Comparative of different search parameters in Mexico (Google Trends)

Malware families operated by Red WinterDog

BlackDog and BlackBelen are the two trojans operated by the threat actor and they have particular characteristics, which are described in general terms below:


  • It is installed via malicious JavaScript and HTML files.
  • It can be distributed through emails with pretexts related to supposed transfers, SAT add-ons, CURP, Google Drive or through malicious campaigns in search engines such as Bing and DuckDuck Go.
  • If the victim executes a malicious file coming from the Internet or downloaded from the email, a malicious extension is installed in the Chrome browser, often called “seguridad” by cybercriminals.

Figure 4. Attack flow of BlackDog


  • It is installed directly from the official Google Chrome or Edge store, making it particularly dangerous.
  • It can be distributed through emails with pretexts related to supposed transfers, SAT add-ons, CURP, Google Drive or through malicious campaigns in search engines such as Bing and DuckDuck Go.

Figure 5. Attack flow of BlackBelen

Figure 6. SAT impersonating malvertising campaign

Finally, if a user accesses a banking site, they will be redirected to a fake site or JavaScript and HTML code will be injected into the official page to impersonate banking forms and steal their information without the victim being aware of it.

Diamon model

Figure 7. Red WinterDog´s Diamond model

MITRE ATT&CK ® based profiling

The following matrix of TTPs based on the MITRE PRE-ATT&CK Framework was obtained from the analysis of different BlackDog and BlackBelen campaigns.

Table 1. PRE-ATT&CK Matrix

The following matrix of TTPs based on the MITRE Framework was obtained from the analysis of different BlackDog and BlackBelen campaigns.

Table 2. MITRE ATT&CK Matrix


The Red WinterDog threat group is constantly modifying its malicious artifacts and the techniques used in its attacks, always with the objective of stealing banking information from users in Mexico, using one of the two malware families identified so far (BlackDog and BlackBelen), with the main technique being the use of Man in The Browser.

The main characteristic of this threat is to use malicious web browser extensions for the most popular ones, and distribute them through official Google Chrome and Edge stores, along with the analysis of trends from government agencies, to design their malvertising campaigns and the phishing sites used as initial vector. The ideal victims of Red WinterDog are those users and organizations that do not have EndPoint security tools to identify the installation of malicious browser add-ons or are not aware of the new techniques used in the threat landscape affecting Latin America.

SCILabs continues to monitor the activity of this cybercriminal group and provide IOCs to strengthen the security of our customers.



  • Try to enter the addresses of the pages you want to visit directly in the address bar and not through search engine results.
  • Conduct awareness campaigns about malicious advertising campaigns used to distribute this malware.
  • Have strict policies regarding the use and installation of add-ons or extensions in the organization’s web browsers.
  • Perform constant monitoring for malicious add-ons or extensions in your organization’s browsers that are not authorized.
  • Look for Chrome browser shortcuts that use the –load-extension parameter to execute suspicious, malicious, or unauthorized code or extensions in your organization.
  • Verify the legitimacy, source, and developer of extensions you authorize in your organization, even if they are in the official browser stores.
  • Add the indicators of compromise reflected in this research to your security solutions.



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