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Backdoor Installed by HelloXD Ransomware , Directed Windows and Linux Devices

Hello XD is a harmful ransomware project in its early stages that is now being deployed in the field.

 

HelloXD is ransomware that first appeared in November 2021 and does double extortion assaults. Researchers discovered several variations that affect Windows and Linux computers. 

According to a recent analysis from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42, the malware's creator has developed a new encryptor with unique packing for detection avoidance and encryption algorithm tweaks. This is a substantial deviation from the Babuk code, indicating the author's goal to create a new ransomware strain with possibilities and characteristics to allow for more attacks. 

HelloXD ransomware threat 

HelloXD first emerged to the public on November 30, 2021, and is based on Babuk's leaked code, which was published in September 2021 on a Russian-language cybercrime site. 

Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 security researchers Daniel Bunce and Doel Santos said, "Unlike other ransomware, this ransomware does not have an active leak site; instead, it prefers to direct the infected victim to negotiations via Tox chat and onion-based messaging instances." 

The operators of the ransomware family are no exception since they used double extortion to extort cryptocurrencies by exfiltrating a victim's personal data, encrypting key, performing cyber espionage, and threatening to publish it.MicroBackdoor is an open-source malware used for command-and-control (C2) communications to browse the infected system, exfiltrate files, execute orders, and remove traces, according to its developer Dmytro Oleksiuk. 

In March 2022, the Belarusian threat actor nicknamed Ghostwriter (aka UNC1151) used multiple forms of the implant in its cyber operations against Ukrainian governmental agencies. The features of MicroBackdoor allow a hacker to explore the file system, upload and download files, run commands, and delete traces of its activity from compromised PCs. 

Hello XD is a harmful ransomware project in its early stages that is now being deployed in the field. Although infection volumes aren't high now, its active and targeted development paves the way for a more harmful state. By piecing together the actor's digital trail, Unit 42 said it connected the likely Russian vendor behind HelloXD — who passes by the online aliases x4k, L4ckyguy, unKn0wn, unk0w, _unkn0wn, and x4kme — to further cybercriminals like selling proof-of-concept (PoC) exploits and custom Kali Linux distributions using malicious software. 

During 2019 and 2021, the average lifespan of an enterprise ransomware attack — that is, the period between initial access and ransomware distribution — decreased by 94.34 percent, from nearly two months to just 3.85 days, according to a new report by IBM X-Force.

The role of initial access brokers (IABs) in getting access to victim networks and then selling that access to associates, who then misuse the foothold to install ransomware payloads, has been attributed to the enhanced speed and efficiency trends in the ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) ecosystem. 

Overall, the data theft by threat actor appears skilled and capable of moving Hello XD forward, so analysts should keep a close eye on its progress.
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Cyber Attacks

IBM X-Force

Linux

Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42

Russian Hacker

Windows