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Hive Ransomware Operators Extort $100m from Over 1,300 Firms Worldwide

The worldwide malicious campaign was uncovered by US agencies.


The operators behind the Hive ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model have launched assaults against over 1,300 firms across the globe and received approximately $100 million in ransom payments as of November 2022, US government agencies stated in an alert. 

Active since June 2021, the malicious ransomware model has been employed in assaults against enterprises and critical infrastructure entities, including healthcare, government, communications, IT, and manufacturing organizations. 

"Hive ransomware has targeted a wide range of businesses and critical infrastructure sectors, including government facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, information technology, and — especially — Healthcare and Public Health (HPH)," read the joint advisory by the FBI, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Modus Operandi 

Hive's RaaS campaign involves a mix of operators, who design and manage the malware, and affiliates, who are responsible for launching the assaults on victim networks by often purchasing initial access from initial access brokers (IABs). 

In most scenarios, securing a foothold involves the exploitation of ProxyShell vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server, followed by the detection and termination of processes linked to antimalware, backups, file copying, and deleting Windows event logs. 

Subsequently, the ransomware designs a file with the .key extension in the root directory – this file, which is unique to the system it was created on, is required for decryption. A ransom note is dropped into each exploited directory, warning targets not to tamper with the .key file, as that would restrict them from data recovery, and also asks victims to contact the hackers via live chat on a website accessible via the Tor browser. 

The ransomware actor also threatens victims that, if a ransom is not paid, data would be leaked publicly on the Tor site ‘HiveLeaks’. Threat analysts also detected crooks employing anonymous file-sharing sites to publish siphoned data. 

"Hive actors have been known to reinfect — with either Hive ransomware or another ransomware variant — the networks of victim organizations who have restored their network without making a ransom payment," the advisory further reads. 

According to the recent report published by cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes, the ransomware targeted seven victims in August 2022, 14 in September, and two other organizations in October, marking a fall in the operations from July, when the gang targeted 26 victims.
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