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Quantum Ransomware was Detected in Several Network Attacks

Quantum Locker ransomware is a rebranded version of the MountLocker malware, which first appeared in September 2020.


Quantum ransomware, originally spotted in August 2021, has been found carrying out fast attacks which expand quickly, leaving defenders with little time to react. The assault began with the installation of an IcedID payload on a user endpoint, followed by the launch of Quantum ransomware 3 hours and 44 minutes later. It was identified by DFIR Report researchers as one of the fastest ransomware attacks it had ever seen. IcedID and ISO files have recently been utilized in other attacks, as these files are great for getting past email security safeguards.

According to Mandiant's M-Trends 2022 study, the threat actors began encrypting the victim's data only 29 hours after the first breach in a Ryuk ransomware assault in October 2020. The median global dwell period for ransomware is around 5 days. However, once the ransomware has been installed, the data of the victim may be encrypted in minutes. According to a recent analysis from Splunk, ransomware encrypts data in an average of 43 minutes, with the fastest encryption time being less than 6 minutes. 

The IcedID payload was stored within an ISO image which was presumably distributed by email in the examined Quantum ransomware outbreak. The malware was disguised as a "document" file, which was an LNK file designed to run a DLL (IcedID). Several discovery activities were run when the DLL was executed, utilizing various built-in Windows functions, and a scheduled job was constructed to ensure persistence. 

Cobalt Strike was installed into the victim system about two hours after the first breach, allowing the attackers to begin 'hands-on-keyboard' behavior. The fraudsters then began network reconnaissance, which included identifying each host in the environment as well as the active directory structure of the target organization. After releasing the memory of LSASS, the intruders were able to steal Windows domain credentials and spread laterally via the network. 

Cobalt Strike was also used by the attackers to collect credentials and test them for remote WMI detection tasks. The credentials enabled the adversary to log in to a target server through the remote desktop protocol (RDP), from which they attempted to distribute Cobalt Strike Beacon. The malicious actors then used RDP to access other servers in the system, where they prepared to deliver Quantum ransomware per each host. Threat actors eventually used WMI and PsExec to deliver the Quantum ransomware payload and encrypt devices via WMI and PsExec. 

The Quantum Locker ransomware is a rebranded version of the MountLocker malware, which first appeared in September 2020. Since then, the ransomware gang has gone by several names, including AstroLocker, XingLocker, and Quantum Locker, which is now in its current phase. 

While the DFIR report claims since no data exfiltration activity was detected in the assault they investigated, researchers claim the ransom demands for this gang fluctuate based on the victim, with some attacks seeking $150,000 in exchange for a decryptor. Quantum Locker, unlike its prior versions, is not a highly active operation, with only a few attacks per month.
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