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NRA Reacts to Allegations of a Ransomware Campaign

 

Last year, the National Rifle Association — champion of gun-toting maniacs worldwide, admitted it was hacked by cybercriminals. The organization's political action committee (PAC) confirmed the attack in a filing to the Federal Election Commission on Friday. 

Last October, a ransomware group known as "Grief" boasted to the digital underworld about hacking into the gun lobby's networks and stealing critical internal papers. It released screenshots of documents it claimed to be stolen during the event. The NRA did not confirm or deny it had been hacked at the time. 

"The National Rifle Association does not talk about its physical or electronic security. The NRA, on the other hand, takes exceptional precautions to safeguard information about its members, funders, and operations, and is extremely cautious in doing so." Andrew Arulanandam, managing director of NRA Public Affairs. 

The NRA was added as a new victim on the ransomware gang's data site today, along with pictures of Excel spreadsheets revealing US tax information and transaction amounts. The threat actors also published a 2.7 MB archive called 'National Grants.zip,' which comprises bogus NRA grant applications. After Grief claimed it obtained 13 files supposedly from the NRA's databases, security researchers began posting about the breach on Wednesday. According to an analysis of the documents supplied, it included records from a recent NRA board meeting as well as grant documents. If the NRA did not pay an undisclosed ransom, it threatened to release more files. 

The Grief ransomware group is believed to be linked to Evil Corp, a Russian hacking group. Evil Corp has been active since 2009 and has been involved in a variety of destructive cyber activities, including the spread of the Dridex trojan, which was used to steal online banking credentials and money. 

In 2017, the hacking gang published BitPaymer, ransomware which was later renamed DoppelPaymer in 2019. The US Department of Justice charged members of the Evil Corp with stealing more than $100 million and adding the cyber group to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanction list after years of attacking US interests. 

Soon after, the US Treasury cautioned ransomware negotiators may face civil penalties if anyone helped gangs on the blacklisted list get ransom payments. To avoid US sanctions, Evil Corp has been spreading new ransomware strains under different identities on a regular basis since then.WastedLocker, Hades, Phoenix CryptoLocker, PayLoadBin, and, quite recently, the Macaw Locker are among the ransomware families.

NRA members should take precautions to protect themselves from any penalties which may occur as a result of this breach, according to Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate at Comparitech. With the Grief ransomware group emerging, security researchers believe it is another version of DoppelPaymer due to the code similarities. Because Grief is related to Evil Corp, ransomware negotiators are unlikely to allow ransom payments unless the victim first obtains OFAC certification.

Entropy Ransomware Connected to Dridex Malware, as per Sophos

 

The recently found Entropy ransomware has coding similarities to the Dridex malware, which started out as a banking trojan. After two Entropy cybercrimes on different firms, researchers were able to establish a bond between the different pieces of malware. 

Sophos principal researcher Andrew Brandt claimed in a new study detection signature designed to detect Dridex which prompted a closer look into the Entropy virus, both of the target businesses had gadgets were unprotected. Despite the characteristic for recognizing the Dridex packer code, endpoint protection measures blocked the attack, which was started by identifying the Entropy packer code.

In all incidents, the attackers gained remote access to the target networks by infecting them with Cobalt Strike Beacons and Dridex before deploying Entropy. Despite some similarities, the twin attacks differed greatly in terms of the initial access point used to parasite its path within the networks, the period invested in each environment, and the malware utilized to initiate the final stage of the invasion. 

The attack on the media company employed the ProxyShell vulnerability to infect a vulnerable Exchange Server with a web shell, which was then used to deploy Cobalt Strike Beacons throughout the network. The attacker is alleged to have spent four months doing espionage and data theft before launching the cyberattack in December 2021. The second attack on the provincial government agency was made possible via a malicious email attachment carrying the Dridex virus.

Notably, prior to encryption of the files on the hacked machines, redundant exfiltration of confidential documents to more than just one cloud storage service – in the form of packed RAR archives – occurred within 75 hours of the initial discovery of a suspect login session on a single machine. Apart from employing respectable tools like AdFind, PsExec, and PsKill, the resemblance between Dridex and Entropy samples and past DoppelPaymer extortion infections has raised the likelihood of a "similar origin."

The network of links between the various types of malware is worth mentioning; the Dridex malware, an information-stealing botnet, is thought to be the product of Indrik Spider, a well-known Russian cybercrime outfit  Evil Corp. 

The Evil Corp cluster continues to improve its tradecraft, continually altering payload signatures, exploitation tools, and initial access methods to mislead attribution. SentinelOne researchers identified the "evolutionary" ties in a standalone analysis, claiming nearly identical design, implementation, and functionality amongst various iterations of the malware, with the file-encrypting malware buried using a packer named CryptOne. 

"The attackers took advantage of a lack of attention in both situations - both targets had vulnerable Windows PCs which were missing relevant patches and updates," said Andrew Brandt, chief researcher at Sophos. Attackers would have had to work harder to gain first access into the Exchange Server if it had been patched properly.

Dridex Targeted Employees with Fake Job Termination Emails

 

A new Dridex malware phishing campaign is using fake employee termination as a lure to open a malicious Excel document, which then trolls them with a season's greeting message.

TheAnalyst, a threat researcher, shared a screenshot of the false employment termination notice on December 22, linking it to a Dridex affiliate. The suspicious email informed the target that their employment will end on December 24, and also that the decision could not be reversed. A password-protected Excel file attached offered further information. 

When a receiver accessed the file, a blurred form with a button to "Enable Content" appeared, allowing the file to run an automated script through its macros function, a technology designed to aid automation that has been misused for years for harmful purposes. After clicking the button, a pop-up window displayed with the words "Merry X-Mas Dear Employees!" 

Dridex is a trojan that was first discovered in 2014 and is related to credential theft. It spreads via email phishing campaigns. According to the US Treasury Department, it has been used to steal more than $100 million from banking institutions in 40 nations. 

Dridex is thought to have been created by Evil Corp., a Russian hacker gang that has become one of the most notorious and prolific cybercrime organizations in recent years. In December 2019, the US government sanctioned the organization and indicted its alleged founders, Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, for their roles in developing Bugat, the predecessor malware to Dridex. 

A response to TheAnalyst's tweet including the false termination notice observed that in some copies of the email, the "Merry X-Mas" pop-up replaced the word "Employees" with racial insults. The racist content with this particular Dridex campaign extends back to a few months, according to TheAnalyst. 

For example, a phishing email sent out to targets during Black Friday mentioned shooting "black protesters" with a license. "If you find this message to be inappropriate or offensive, please click the complaint button in the attached document and we will never contact you again," the message stated. 

According to TheAnalyst, cybercriminals frequently insert racist email addresses inside the malware payloads to insult researchers. This element of the campaign is not visible to the campaign's targets, but it is visible to researchers who seek out, study, and expose phishing campaigns.

Dridex Banking Malware is Now Being Installed Using a Log4j Vulnerability

 

The Log4j vulnerability is presently being leveraged to infect Windows devices with the Dridex Trojan and Linux devices with Meterpreter, according to Cryptolaemus, a cybersecurity research firm. Dridex, also known as Bugat and Cridex, is a type of malware that specializes in obtaining bank credentials through a system that uses Microsoft Word macros. This malware targets Windows users who open an email attachment in Word or Excel, enabling macros to activate and download Dridex, infecting the computer and potentially exposing the victim to banking theft.

The major objective of this software is to steal banking information from users of infected PCs in order to conduct fraudulent transactions. Bank information is used by the software to install a keyboard listener and conduct injection attacks. The theft perpetrated by this software was estimated to be worth £20 million in the United Kingdom and $10 million in the United States in 2015. Dridex infections have been linked to ransomware assaults carried out by the Evil Corp hacker gang. 

Log4j, an open-source logging library widely used by apps and services on the internet, was revealed to have a vulnerability. Attackers can breach into systems, steal passwords and logins, extract data, and infect networks with harmful software if they are not fixed. Log4j is widely used in software applications and internet services around the world, and exploiting the vulnerability needs no technical knowledge. As a result, Log4shell may be the most serious computer vulnerability in years. 

Threat actors use the Log4j RMI (Remote Method Invocation) exploit version, according to Joseph Roosen, to force vulnerable devices to load and execute a Java class from an attacker-controlled remote server. When the Java class is launched, it will first attempt to download and launch an HTA file from several URLs, which will install the Dridex trojan, according to BleepingComputer. If the Windows instructions cannot be executed, the device will be assumed to be running Linux/Unix and a Python script to install Meterpreter will be downloaded and executed. 

On Windows, the Java class will download and open an HTA file, resulting in the creation of a VBS file in the C:ProgramData folder. This VBS program is the primary downloader for Dridex and has previously been spotted in Dridex email campaigns. When run, the VBS code will examine numerous environment variables to determine whether or not the user is a member of a Windows domain. If the user is a domain member, the VBS code will download and run the Dridex DLL with Rundll32.exe.

Cutwail Botnet-Led Dridex and Malicious PowerShell Related Attacks, Increase with new Scripts

 

IBM X-Force intelligence has observed an increase in the Cutwail botnet-led Dridex-related network attacks. Dridex is shipped via e-mail with booby-trapped macros as a second-stage attacker after the original document or spreadsheet arrives. Recipients who unintentionally trigger the macros, launch malware that will install more malware in a PowerShell script. Currently, in Italy and Japan, X-Force is seen to be examining relatively smaller campaigns. 

Malspam emails are indeed the original infection vector for these threats. Recipients receive unwanted messages, mostly sent via the Cutwail botnet including Microsoft Office file attachments. It was a popular cybercrime spam platform in 2009 and is still distributing spam to prestigious malware-free gangs. Cutwail has been the biggest in its genres. In total, as of June 2020, at least 34% of all X-Force PowerShell attacks have been related to the Dridex payload. The uptick in PowerShell seemed obvious at the beginning of 2020 and began to rise significantly in May 2020. In December 2020, the activity peaks of X-Force recorded an 80 percent raise over the previous six-month duration in the total number of malicious PowerShell attacks. 

In January 2021, it was observed that both PowerShell's attacks and Dridex's integrated attacks saw a sudden decrease, presumably with the end of the campaign, and a new one was launched using the separate macro as well as other scripts.  

In the case of X-Force investigation, the PowerShell function is directed to override the local operation policies and runs a Base64 encrypted command, resulting in a demand to navigate to the so-called Microsoft URL. This script retrieves a malicious file from the typo-squatted region. These basic steps differ per model and campaign. The Dridex payload is the executable file. It masks itself as a hosting service operation and starts to implement its data-robbing techniques to prevent identification. 

If one looks at the sectors most commonly targeted are controlled security networks, X-Force acknowledges that the top goal of the increased rise in PowerShell attacks is health care. Ransomware attacks in many cases tend to compromise hospitals for heavy ranches to shield patients and to restart operations. 

Dridex mainly works with other cybercrime organizations having links in East Europe's powerful criminal arena. In the past, Necurs had been Dridex's leading spamming operation. Dridex stepped on and off of Necurs, holding Emotet as the botnet that paves the way to corporate networks when strategies have shifted from widespread infection to targeted attack.