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BlackCat Ransomware’s Data Exfiltration Tool Gets an Upgrade


A new version of the BlackCat ransomware's data exfiltration tool for double-extortion attacks has been released. Exmatter, the stealer tool, has been in use since BlackCat's initial release in November 2021.
Exmatter Evolution Symantec researchers (who track the group as Noberus) claim in a report that the ransomware group's focus appears to be on data exfiltration capabilities, which is a critical component of double-extortion attacks. 

The exfiltration tool was substantially updated in August, with various changes including the ability to exfiltrate data from a wide range of file types, including FTP and WebDav, to SFTP, and the option to create a report listing all processed files. It has also added a 'Eraser' feature to corrupt processed files, as well as a 'Self-destruct' configuration option to delete and quit if it runs in a non-valid environment.

New information  stealer

The deployment of new malware known as Eamfo, which is specifically designed to target credentials saved in Veeam backups, has increased BlackCat's ability to steal information even further.

Eamfo connects to the Veeam SQL database and uses a SQL query to steal backup credentials. It decrypts and displays credentials to an attacker once they have been extracted.

Along with expanding Exmatter's capabilities, the latest version includes extensive code refactoring to make existing features more stealthy and resistant to detection. In any case, the BlackCat operation terminates antivirus processes with an older anti-rootkit utility.

BlackCat isn't slowing down and appears to be focused on constantly evolving itself with new tools, improvements, and extortion strategies. As a result, organisations are advised to secure access points and train their employees on cybercriminal penetration techniques. Businesses should also invest more in cross-layer detection and response solutions.

Angry Developer Leaks LockBit Ransomware Builder


The recently released 3.0 version of LockBit encryptor’s builder, called LockBit Black is leaked online. According to the Ransomware operator’s public representative LockBitSupp, this leak is not executed by a hacker, rather, it is the work of some disgruntled developer. 

About LockBit Black Builder 

The latest version, LockBit Black was under the testing phase till June and comprised numerous advanced features, such as auto-analysis, a ransomware bug bounty program, and newer methods of extortion. 

The builder included a password-protected 7z archive LockBit3Builder, it comprised four files – a batch file, a builder, a modifiable configuration file, and an encryption key generator. The files allow one to build the executable code to launch their own operation, such as encryptor, decryptor, and tools to execute the decryptor in a specific way.  

LockBit Ransomware’s Builder Leaks

A recently registered Twitter account by the handle @ali_qushji is under scrutiny by the security researchers of 3xport, as the Twitter user Ali Qushji claims that his team has gotten hold of LockBit servers and found a builder for the LockBit 3.0 ransomware encryptor. 

“Unknown person @ali_qusji said his team has hacked the LockBit servers and found the possible builder of LockBit Black (3.0) ransomware” the Tweet read. 

On September 10, the researchers at VX-Underground were allegedly contacted by a user named protonleak (@protonleaks1), who shared a copy of the builder. The research agency further claimed that the ransomware group was not hacked, but the private ransomware builder code was leaked by one of the group’s developers. 

The developer was allegedly hired by the LockBit ransomware group, he was discontented with the ransomware operator’s leadership, and leaked the builder in response. 

"We reached out to LockBit ransomware group regarding this and discovered this leaker was a programmer employed by LockBit ransomware group [...] They were upset with LockBit leadership and leaked the builder." VX-Underground tweeted. 

Threat to the Ransomware Operators

According to John Hammond, a security researcher at Huntress Labs, "This leak of the builder software commoditizes the ability to configure, customize, and ultimately generate the executables to not only encrypt but decrypt files[...] Anyone with this utility can start a full-fledged ransomware operation."   

The leak consequently is a threat to ransomware operators, as the builder code is now accessible to other ransomware operators. As a result, many new versions of the builder will soon be circulated by the operators. Moreover, the leaked builder will give security researchers a chance to conduct a better analysis of the ransomware, and develop advanced software that could tackle future attacks.

Interpol Arrests 12 Suspects for Running Sextortion Racket

A joint operation to crack down sex racket

Interpol announced the arrest of 12 individuals under suspicion of core members of transnational sextortion ring. 

The arrests happened in July and August because of a joint investigation done by Interpol's cybercrime division and police in Singapore and Hongkong. 

Under the Banner #YouMayBeNext, supported by 75 INTERPOL member countries and 21 private and public entities, the campaign focuses specifically on sextortion, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), and ransomware attacks. 

In an example of the challenges these cyber attacks represent, international police operations supported by INTERPOL has found and tracked down transnational sextortion ring that was able to extract around USD 47,000 from targets. 

As of now, the investigation has tracked 34 back to the syndicate. 

What is sextortion?

Sextortion is considered a criminal act and is a form of sexual exploitation that includes harrassing an individual, either via threat or manipulation, into making sexually explicit content and sending it over the internet. 

The suspects reached out to potential victims through online dating and sex platforms, then lure them into downloading a malicious mobile app and trick them into "naked chats." 

The suspects used this app to hack victim's phone contact lists, then threaten victims by blackmailing to leak their nude videos to their relatives and friends. 

The victims of the sextortion racket are mostly from Hongkong and Singapore. 

Raymond Lam Cheuk Ho, Acting Head of the Hong Kong Police’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau said:

"We conducted a proactive investigation and in-depth analysis of a zombie command and control server hosting the malicious application, which – along with the joint efforts by our counterparts – allowed us to identify and locate individuals linked to the criminal syndicate.”

INTERPOL's warning 

Besides this, Interpol has warned about a surge in sextortion incident in the recent years, the rise has been aggravated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It mentions the risks of the sextortion, just a click away on a malicious link or an intimate video/picture to someone can expose users to sextortion threats. 

Last year, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) alarmed about a sudden rise in sextortion complaints since the start of 2021. As per the experts, the attack has caused   financial losses of more than $8 Million until July 2021. 

The FBI got more than 16,000 sextortion complaints until July 2021, most of the victims fall between the age of 20 and 39. 

How to be safe from sextortion?

Security affairs reports the following measures to stay safe from sextortion threats: 

  • NEVER send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are.
  • Do not open attachments from people you do not know. Links can secretly hack your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your private data, photos, and contacts, or control your web camera and microphone without your knowledge.
  • Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when not in use.

HHS Warns, Karakurt Ransomware Group Targeting Healthcare Providers


The US Department of Health and Human Services Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) recently issued a warning about rising Karakurt activities against the healthcare centre. The department has now issued a new warning about Evil Corp attacks. 

According to the alert, Evil Corp is supposedly obtaining intellectual property from the United States healthcare sector on behalf of the Russian government. Evil Corp's Dridex trojan is competent in compromising the confidentiality and accessibility of operational systems and data, including financial and health data. 

The threat actor has constantly changed its tactics in order to avoid sanctions imposed by the US government, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Evil Corp has a plethora of tools and techniques at its disposal, which are frequently combined with commodity malware and off-the-grid tactics. Furthermore, HC3 is concerned because nation-state-sponsored threat actors, such as Evil Corp, see data exfiltration as a cost-effective way to steal intellectual property. 

In addition to the aforementioned, Evil Corp makes no distinction between large and small organisations, preferring to target wherever there is an opportunity. Karakurt has at least compromised an assisted living facility, a healthcare provider, a hospital, and a dental clinic, according to HC3. The group even transformed its leak site into a searchable database, making it easier to locate victims.

The healthcare sector has long been a favourite target of cybercriminals, and this has only increased since the pandemic's onslaught. On a regular basis, various threat groups target the sector. As a result, putting in place the necessary security measures is advised.

A New Ransomware Gang BianLian on a Sudden Rise

BianLian has 20 victims 

A new ransomware gang working under the name BianLian surfaced last year and is actively on the rise since then. The group already has a record of twenty victims across various industries (engineering, medicine, insurance, and law). Most of the victim organizations are based in Australia, the UK, and North America.

Cybersecurity firm Redacted published a report regarding the incident, it hasn't attributed the attack to anyone but believes the threat actor "represents a group of individuals who are very skilled in network penetration but are relatively new to the extortion/ransomware business." 

Redacted firm finds the group 

Unfortunately, the Redacted team of experts has found proof that BianLian is now trying to advance its tactics. In August, the experts noticed that a troubling expansion in the rate by which BianLian was bringing new [CBC] servers online. 

"The BianLian group has developed a custom tool set consisting of a backdoor and an encryptor, developing both using the Go programming language," says the report.

The experts currently lack the insight to know the reason for the sudden increase in growth, it may hint that the hacking group is ready to increase its operational tempo, though whatever may be the reason, there isn't much good that comes from a ransomware operator that has resources readily available to him. 

How does BianLian work?

To get initial access into the victim's network, BianLian generally attacks the SonicWall VPN devices, servers that offer remote network access through solutions like Remote Desktop, ProxyShell vulnerability chain 

Once exploited, they deploy either a webshell or a lightweight remote access solution like ngrok as the follow-on payload. Once inside the victim network, BianLian takes upto six weeks to initiate the encryption process. 

As BianLian in the beginning spreads throughout the network, looking for the most important information to steal and find out the most important machines to encrypt, it appears to take steps to reduce observable incidents, via living of the land (LOL) methods to move horizontally. 

In the past, BianLian has occasionally posted teaser information on victim organizations, leaving the victims identities masked, which may have served as an additional pressure mechanism on the victims in an attempt to have them pay the actors ransom demand, says Redacted report. 

In-Depth Look at Ragnar Locker Ransomware Targeting Vital Industries


The Ragnar group, responsible for the Ragnar Locker ransomware, has been active since 2019, targeting critical industries and using double extortion. The FBI warned in March 2022 that at least 52 entities from ten critical industry sectors had been affected. 

In August 2022, the group launched an attack on Greek gas supplier Desfa, claiming to have stolen sensitive data. Cybereason researchers examined Ragnar Locker's encryption process. Ragnar Locker performs a location check during execution. Execution is stopped if the location is any country in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

It then gathers host information, such as the computer and user names, as well as the machine GUID and Windows version. A custom hashing function concatenates and conceals this data. The combined hashes are used to name a new event. Ragnar Locker then attempts to locate existing file volumes by utilising the Windows APICreateFileW.

The encrypted list of services contained within the Ragnar Locker code is decrypted. VSS, sql, memtas, mepocs, sophos, veeam, backup, pulseway, logme, logmein, connectwise, splashtop, kaseya, vmcompute, Hyper-v, vmms, Dfs are all included. If any of these are discovered to be running services, the malware terminates them.

The malware then decrypts and prepares an embedded RSA public key for use. It decrypts the ransom note and then proceeds to delete any shadow copies of the host via vssadmin.exe and Wmic.exe.

The ransom note also states in the analysed sample, "Also, all of your sensitive and private information was gathered, and if you decide NOT to pay, we will upload it for public view!" Tor's Ragnar Locker data leak site (http [://] rgleaktxuey67yrgspmhvtnrqtgogur35lwdrup4d3igtbm3pupc4lyd [.] onion/) currently lists approximately 70 claimed victims.

The note demands a ransom of 25 bitcoins, but suggests that if contact is made within two days, this can be negotiated. However, it warns that if no contact is made within 14 days, the ransom will double, and the decryption key will be destroyed if no payment agreement is reached within 21 days. It also states that the attackers customised the ransom amount based on the victim's "network size, number of employees, annual revenue."

Ragnar Locker begins the encryption process once the ransom note is complete. The files like autoruns.inf, boot.ini, bootfront.bin, bootsect.bak, bootmgr, bootmgr.efi, bootmgfw.efi, desktop.ini, iconcache.db, ntldr, ntuser.dat, ntuser.dat.log, ntuser.ini, thumbs.db; specific processes and objects such as Windows.old, Tor Browser, Internet Explorer, Google, Opera, Opera Software, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, $Recycle.bin, ProgramData, All Users; and files with the extensions .db, .sys, .dll, lnk, .msi, .drv, .exe.are among those excluded.

Other files' filenames are sent to the encryption function, which encrypts them and appends the suffix '.ragnar [hashed computer name]'. Ragnar Locker creates a notepad.exe process after encryption and displays the ransom note on the user's screen.

The stolen data used in the double extortion process is continuously exfiltrated until it reaches the point of encryption. According to Loic Castel, a principal security analyst at Cybereason's Global SOC, “In general, ransomware operatives doing double extortion always require full privileges on the network they are looking to encrypt.. Between the initial access phase (when they take control of an asset, for instance through spearphishing) and the encryption phase, they have access to many machines, which they can extract data from and send through exfiltration services / external domains.”

As per the FBI alert, data exfiltration occurred nearly six weeks after the initial access and continued for about ten days before the encryption process began. Ragnar Locker primarily targets critical industry companies. 

“Ragnar Locker ransomware actors work as part of a ransomware family, frequently changing obfuscation techniques to avoid detection and prevention,” warned the FBI in its March 2022 alert.

BlackByte Ransomware is Back With New Version

New Variant 

The BlackByte ransomware has returned with version 2.0 of their operation, this includes a new data leak website that uses new extortion techniques taken from Lockbit. After disappearing for a while, the ransomware is now promoting a new data leak website on hacking platforms and via Twitter accounts the hacker controls. 

The hackers call this new launch of their operation BlackByte version 2.0, currently, it is unclear if the ransomware encryptor has changed too, the hacking group has launched a brand new Tor data leak website. 

The data leak website currently has only one target but now consists of new extortion techniques that let victims to pay for extending the duration of their data by one day ($5000), download the data ($200,000), or delete all the data ($300,000). The costs are likely to change, it depends on the size/earning of the victim. 

But, as said by the cybersecurity intelligence agency KELA, BlackByte's latest data leak website is not rightly embedding the Monero and Bitcoin addresses that users can use to buy or delete the data, which makes these features not perfect. 

The aim of these latest extortion tricks is to let the victim to pay to delete all their data and for other hackers to buy it if they want. Lockbit released these same extortion techniques with the launch of their 3.0 version and are observed more as a bluff than as viable extortion techniques. 

What is BlackByte 

The BlackByte ransomware operation was released last year when the attackers started compromising corporate networks for stealing data and encrypting devices. 

Their biggest profile attack was against the NFL's 49ers, however a joint advisory from the secret service and FBI said that they were also behind attacks on critical infrastructure systems, these include financial institutions, government facilities, and agriculture, and food industries. 

The hackers are popular for breaching networks using bugs and have earlier compromised Microsoft Exchange servers via a ProxyShell attack chain. 

Last year, a vulnerability was found in the operation that allowed to create a free BlackByte decryptor. Sadly, when the flaw was found, the hackers patched it. 


Hacker Uses New RAT Malware in Cuba Ransomware Attacks


A member of the Cuba ransomware operation is using previously unknown tactics, methods, and procedures (TTPs), such as a novel RAT (remote access trojan) and a novel local privilege escalation tool. 

Researchers at Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 dubbed the threat actor 'Tropical Scorpius,' and he is most certainly an associate of the Cuba ransomware operation. In Q1 2022, Cuba ransomware received a slight version, including a modified encryptor with more nuanced choices and the addition of quTox for live victim help. 

Tropical Scorpius, on the other hand, represents a change in tactics, perhaps making the Cuba operation more risky and obtrusive. Tropical Scorpius employs the standard Cuba ransomware payload, which has remained essentially unchanged from the operation's inception in 2019. 

Since June 2022, one of the new ways has been leveraging a legal but invalidated NVIDIA certificate stolen and released by LAPSUS to certify a kernel driver dropped during the early stages of an infection. The driver's job is to find and stop processes associated with security products in order to assist threat actors in evading discovery in the compromised environment. 

Tropical Scorpius then downloads a local privilege escalation tool that includes an attack for CVE-2022-24521, a flaw in the Windows Common Log File System Driver that was resolved as a zero-day in April 2022.

According to Unit 42, the hackers used an exploitation approach that appears to have been inspired by security researcher Sergey Kornienko's extensive write-up. Tropical Scorpius then downloads ADFind and Net Scan to accomplish lateral movement. This is also the time when the threat actor introduces a new tool capable of retrieving cached Kerberos credentials.

Another innovative approach discovered by Unit 42 researchers is the use of a ZeroLogon hack tool to get DA (domain administrator) credentials by exploiting CVE-2020-1472. Finally, Tropical Scorpius deploys "ROMCOM RAT," previously unknown malware that handles C2 connections through ICMP queries sent via Windows API calls.

ROMCOM RAT supports the following 10 commands:
  • Return connected drive information
  • Return file listings for a specified directory
  • Start up a reverse shell under the name svchelper.exe within the %ProgramData% folder
  • Upload data to C2 as ZIP file, using IShellDispatch to copy files
  • Download data and write to worker.txt in the %ProgramData% folder
  • Delete a specified file
  • Delete a specified directory
  • Spawn a process with PID Spoofing
  • Only handled by ServiceMain, received from C2 server and instructs the process to sleep for 120,000 ms
  • Iterate through running processes and gather process IDs
On June 20, 2022, Tropical Scorpius created a fresh version of ROMCOM and uploaded it for testing on VirusTotal, which referred to the same C2 address (hardcoded). The second version introduced ten new commands to the current ten, providing more complex execution, file upload, and process termination options for remote activities. Furthermore, the updated version allows you to get other payloads from the C2, such as a desktop snapper named "Screenshooter."

The introduction of Tropical Scorpius and its new TTPs implies that Cuba ransomware is becoming a more serious threat, even if the specific RaaS isn't the most prevalent in terms of victim count. Cuba, on the other hand, has chosen to keep a low profile and employ a gentler double-extortion strategy, thus the real number of victims is unclear.

Since June 2022, the group has published the stolen data of four victims on the Onion site's "free" area, although their "paid" offers haven't been updated in a long time. Given the time necessary for negotiation and extortion, the outcomes of the 'Tropical Scorpius' update may be seen in the second half of the year.

Sneak Peek: Hive’s RaaS Techniques


With the average ransomware pay-out expected to reach $541,010 in 2021 and some affiliates earning up to 80% of each ransom payment, it's no wonder that RaaS setups are claimed to assist nearly two-thirds of ransomware operations. 

Indeed, service providers, such as Hive, are giving threat actors a head start in their criminal careers. Hive is a new RaaS group that was discovered in June 2021. However, its aggressive tactics and frequent variation improvements have turned it into a powerful opponent in the space. While other ransomware operators, like as REvil, dominated news in its first year, 

Hive gained prominence in November 2021 by hitting Media Markt, Europe's largest consumer electronics shop.The attack piqued the interest of the RaaS industry, causing the platform's victim count to soon rise into the hundreds, with the bulk of these victims being IT and real estate enterprises in the United States. 

How Hive Set Up a "Sales Department" 

The Menlo Labs research team examined interactions between the Hive ransomware gang and some of its victims in order to better comprehend this new and formidable RaaS group. Hive ransomware exploits a variety of attack vectors, including hijacked VPN credentials, weak RDP servers, and phishing emails with a Cobalt Strike payload. The examined programme was highly active, with attackers using the Hive platform putting considerable pressure on their targets. 

The Labs team discovered that Hive provides compromised victims a unique identification before encrypting their data, generally during unsociable hours, after reviewing some of the network traffic. Once this is accomplished, information about the victim is released on Hive's dark web data leak sites (DLS). The victim is then emailed an automatically created ransom letter with a link to the website, login credentials, and a call to action to contact Hive's "sales department." 

When the victim logs in, a live chat between the victim and a Hive admin is opened, during which the ransom is sought - generally in the form of Bitcoin - in return for a decryptor, a security report, and a file tree highlighting exactly what was stolen.

Hive was utilising malware written in Golang by its developers at the time the communications were reviewed by the Menlo Labs team, with the samples acquired being obfuscated to prevent detection and analysis.

However, Microsoft has now announced that Hive has produced a new variation that uses a different programming language, switching from Golang to Rust. The migration is expected to give Hive with various benefits that Rust has over other programming languages, including the use of string encryption as a strategy to make it more elusive.

Surprisingly, the new variant will also employ a different cryptographic technique.While the Golang variation embeds one encrypted key in each file it encrypts, the Rust variant has been proven to construct two sets of keys in memory, use them to encrypt the files, and then save the sets to the root of the disc it encrypts, both with the.key extension. While the new variant's key set creation differs from the previous set examined by the Menlo Labs team, its file encryption is remarkably comparable.

With these changes, the Hive danger is projected to grow much more. As a result, enterprises must prepare to battle RaaS and ransomware more extensively in the future.

Neuro Practice Says 363,000 Users' Personal Info Leaked

About the leak

An Indiana neurology practice is informing around 363,000 people that their personal data was leaked in a recent ransomware attack and that a few of it was posted on the dark web.

The practice doesn't know which ransomware group or data leak site, however, the Russian ransomware group Hive - which was the topic of a recent federal advisor for the healthcare industry- is hinted at in the attack. Hive has been wildly attacking the U.S healthcare sector. 

What do experts have to say?

Nerve and gray matter experts Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine, in a data breach report to the attorney general of Maine in July, said a "sophisticated" ransomware attack that compromised its computer network and communications system- which includes phones and e-mails, compromised employees and patients data. 

"A healthcare entity informing individuals in a breach notification letter or statement that their information has been potentially listed on the dark web is a highly uncommon level of transparency," reports Bank Info Security. 

How did Practice combat the issue?

Once the attack was discovered on May 20, the practice took immediate steps to safeguard its systems and did a forensic analysis and incident response firm. Goodman Campbell also notified the FBI. An inquiry into the case revealed that a malicious third party had acquired info from the practice's systems.

However, the hacker didn't access the electronic medical record system, but accessed patient info and records in other locations in the internal networks, like appointment schedules, insurance eligibility documentation, and referral forms. 

Info compromised in the attack includes date of birth, names, telephone number, address, e-mail IDs, medical record number, patient account number, physician name, dates of service, diagnosis and treatment information, insurance info, and social security numbers. 

"While we have no indication that the information of any impacted individuals has been used inappropriately as a result of this incident, we do know that some information acquired by the attacker was made available for approximately 10 days on the dark web," says the practice notification. 

GwisinLocker Ransomware Targets Linux Systems in South Korea

ReversingLabs cyber intelligence group discovered a brand ransomware family called 'GwisinLocker'. As per the analysis, this ransomware mainly victimizes South Korea’s infrastructures such as healthcare, pharmaceutical companies, and industries with Windows and Linux encryptors, including support for encrypting VMware ESXi servers and virtual machines. 

Dubbed as GwisinLocker, the malware was first detected on July 19 by ReversingLabs cyber intelligence group. GwisinLocker is an upgraded and advanced malware variant that was created by a previously lesser-known threat actor (TA) called “Gwisin” which translates in Korean as 'ghost' or 'spirit'. Also, the hacker’s origin is unknown but as per the technical data, it appears that the hacker has a good command of the Korean language. 

“In those incidents, it often launched attacks on public holidays and during the early morning hours (Korean time) – looking to take advantage of periods in which staffing and monitoring within target environments were relaxed,” ReversingLabs wrote in an advisory published on Thursday. 

“In communications with its victims, the Gwisin group claims to have deep knowledge of their network and claim that they exfiltrated data with which to extort the company.”

“In communications with its victims, the Gwisin group claim to have deep knowledge of their network and claim that they exfiltrated data with which to extort the company. Ransom notes associated with GwisinLocker.Linux contains detailed internal information from the compromised environment. Encrypted files use file extensions customized to use the name of the victim company”, the report reads.

Regarding the information on the payment system behind the ransomware, researchers said that GwisinLocker.Linux victims called for logging into the portal run by the group and creating private communications channels for completing ransom payments. “As a result, little is known about the payment method used and/or cryptocurrency wallets associated with the group,” the researchers further added.

LockBit Ransomware Exploits Windows Defender to Load Cobalt Strike Payloads


A hacker linked with the LockBit 3.0 ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation has been identified exploiting the Windows Defender command-line tool to decrypt and install Cobalt Strike payloads.

According to endpoint security firm SentinelOne, the ransomware operator exploited VMware command-line utility called VMwareXferlogs.exe, to alter VMware tool settings and interface in the targeted operating systems, and downloaded a Cobalt Strike payload. The hacker also leveraged a command line tool associated with Windows Defender named “MpCmdRun.exe to” decrypt and load Cobalt Strike payloads. 

Subsequently, the malicious actor exploited the Log4Shell vulnerability which is the bug found in an open-source logging library employed by apps and services across the internet, and implemented a reconnaissance for thorough observation of the network to download the Cobalt Strike Payload.

SentinelOne stated that Windows Defender needs to be vigilant regarding the current scenario as hackers associated with the LockBit ransomware are exploring to abuse “novel living off the land tools” to deploy Cobalt Strike beacons bypassing traditional AV detection tools. 

“Defenders need to be alert to the fact that LockBit ransomware operators and affiliates are exploring and exploiting novel ‘living off the land’ tools to aid them in loading Cobalt Strike beacons and evading some common EDR and traditional AV detection tools,” SentinelOne said. 

“Importantly, tools that should receive careful scrutiny are any that either the organization or the organization’s security software have made exceptions for. Products like VMware and Windows Defender have a high prevalence in the enterprise and a high utility to threat actors if they are allowed to operate outside of the installed security controls,” the company added. 

The LockBit ransomware has been active since 2019 and it has likely been used to target thousands of organizations. 

Earlier this year in June, the Lockbit ransomware gang announced the launch of Lockbit 3.0, a new ransomware-as-a-service offering and a bug bounty program. The group said it will offer rewards ranging between $1,000 and $1 million to security researchers and ethical or unethical hackers for information regarding vulnerabilities in their website, the ransomware encryption process, the Tox messaging app, and bugs exploiting their Tor infrastructure.

North Korean Hackers Employ H0lyGh0st Ransomware to Target Businesses


Researchers from Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) this week claimed that the North Korean hackers are employing the H0lyGh0st ransomware to target small and midsize businesses worldwide. 

The hacking group, which calls itself H0lyGh0st and is tracked by Microsoft as DEV-0530, has been employing ransomware since at least June 2021 and has successfully exploited multiple businesses since September 2021. 

The activities of DEV-0530 are similar to other ransomware gangs out there. The group engages in double extortion, threatening to publish personal data stolen from victims unless a ransom is paid. 

In recent years, North Korean hackers have siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign businesses to help their country which is struggling economically due to the U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is equally possible that the hackers are employing ransomware for personal gain, which could explain an “often-random selection of victims.” 

According to Microsoft, the activities of DEV-0530 are partially linked to a group known as Plutonium (also known as DarkSeoul or Andariel). Both groups have been spotted operating from the same infrastructure, employing custom malware controllers with similar names, and emailing accounts belonging to each other. 

“MSTIC has observed known DEV-0530 email accounts communicating with known PLUTONIUM attacker accounts. MSTIC has also observed both groups operating from the same infrastructure set, and even using custom malware controllers with similar names,” Microsoft says. 

The researchers also identified that the hacker’s activities are consistent with the UTC+9 time zone employed in North Korea. DEV-0530’s first malicious payload was spotted in June last year, BLTC_C.exe, which was classified as SiennaPurple, despite its lack of complexity compared to other variants in the same ransomware family. More powerful derivatives of the malware were released later, between October 2021 and May 2022, and were based on the Go programming language. 

In November 2021 DEV-0530 successfully exploited several small-to-midsized businesses in the manufacturing, finance, education, and event and meeting planning sectors in multiple nations. Likely opportunistic, the attacks exploited vulnerabilities such as CVE-2022-26352 on public-facing web assets for initial access. 

Subsequently, the hackers would steal “a full copy of the victims’ files” and then shift to encrypt the contents on the system, appending the .h0lyenc extension to impacted files. In addition to dropping a ransom note, the attackers emailed the victim to inform them that their data was stolen and encrypted by H0lyGh0st. 

“Based on our investigation, the attackers frequently asked victims for anywhere from 1.2 to 5 Bitcoins. However, the attackers were usually willing to negotiate and, in some cases, lowered the price to less than one-third of the initial asking price. As of early July 2022, a review of the attackers’ wallet transactions shows that they have not successfully extorted ransom payments from their victims,” Microsoft researchers explained.

HavanaCrypt Ransomware Deployed Via Fake Google Updates


Trend Micro researchers have unearthed a new ransomware family dubbed ‘HavanaCrypt’ being deployed as a fake Google Software Update application. 

The ransomware launches multiple anti-virtualization checks and employs a Microsoft web hosting service IP address for its command and control (C&C) server, which allows it to bypass detection. HavanaCrypt also leverages a namespace method function in its execution process, a report from Trend Micro explained. 

“It disguises itself as a Google software update application and uses a Microsoft web hosting service IP address as its command-and-control server to circumvent detection,” Trend Micro said in a blog. 

The ransomware is the latest in a series of malware that poses as a legitimate application. This year alone has seen ransomware masquerading as Windows 10, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Exchange updates. 

HavanaCrypt modus operandi 

HavanaCrypt is a .NET-compiled application, that employs an open-source tool called Obfuscar to obfuscate its code. Once installed on a system, HavanaCrypt examines the AutoRun registry to see whether the "GoogleUpdate" registry is already present. If not, it continues with the routine. 

The malware then undertakes a four-stage assessment of whether the compromised device is running in a virtualized environment. 

First, it checks for services used by common virtualization applications such as VMWare Tools and vmmouse. Then it scans for files related to virtual applications, followed by a check for specific file names employed in virtual environments. Finally, it compares the machine's MAC address with unique identifier prefixes usually employed in virtual machine settings. If any of the checks show the infected machine to be in a virtual environment, the malware terminates itself. 

Additionally, the malware designs a text file that logs all the directories containing the encrypted files. The file is named foo.txt and the ransomware encrypts it as well. No ransom note is dropped. 

"It is highly possible that the ransomware's author is planning to communicate via the Tor browser because Tor is among the directories that it avoids encrypting files in. It should be noted that HavanaCrypt also encrypts the text file foo.txt and does not drop a ransom note. This might be an indication that HavanaCrypt is still in its development phase," said Bharat Mistry, technical director at Trend Micro.

This New RedAlert Ransomware Targets Windows, Linux VMware ESXi Servers


RedAlert (aka N13V), a new ransomware threat that encrypts both Windows and Linux VMWare ESXi systems, has been discovered. Concerning the RedAlert ransomware, MalwareHunterTeam uncovered the new ransomware and published various screenshots of its data leak site. Because of a string in the ransom text, the ransomware is known as RedAlert. 

However, the attackers are internally referring to their operation as N13V in the Linux encrypter version. The Linux encryptor is intended for use on VMware ESXi servers, including command-line options that enable attackers to shut down any operating virtual machines before locking data. 

RedAlert, like other enterprise-targeted ransomware operations, conducts double-extortion attacks in which data is taken and then ransomware is used to encrypt machines. The ransomware exclusively targets VMware ESXi virtual machine data, such as memory files, log files, virtual discs, and swap files. 

The ransomware encrypts certain file formats and appends the extension.crypt658 to the file names. The ransomware produces a specific ransom note entitled HOW TO RESTORE in each folder, which includes a description of the stolen data and a link to a TOR ransom payment site. One of RedAlert/features N13V's is the '-x' command-line option, which performs asymmetric cryptography performance testing with various NTRUEncrypt parameter sets. 

During encryption, the ransomware employs the NTRUEncrypt public-key encryption method, which supports several 'Parameter Sets' with varying degrees of protection. Aside from RedAlert, the only other ransomware known to use this form of encryption is FiveHands.  

RedAlert currently lists only one organisation as a victim, however, this may change in the near future. Furthermore, the malware's compatibility for both Windows and Linux shows that it intends to target a broader attack surface. As a result, enterprises should keep an eye on this threat. Always use encryption and access controls to safeguard critical information.

Hive Gang Changes Programming from Go to Rust

About Hive Ransomware

Microsoft Security researchers found new versions of Hive ransomware written in the Go programming language but now in Rust. Hive surfaced in June 2021, it was found by the FBI in August. In November, Mediamarkt, a European electronics retail company was hit by Hive. 

It's a RaaS (Ransomware as a service) double extortion gang that has recently been attacking vulnerable Microsoft Exchange Servers, compromised VPN credentials, phishing, and vulnerable RDP servers to install the ransomware and steal information that can be leaked. 

Why the change from Go to Rust

The Rust change from Hive has been underway for quite some time, it took its lessons from BlackCat ransomware, written in Rust as well. Researchers from Group-IB in March discovered that Hive changed its Linux encryptor (for attacking VMware ESXi servers) to Rust to make it difficult for cybersecurity experts to monitor the ransom talks with targets. 

The Rust rewrite is much easier, Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center in its blog said, "the upgrades in the latest variant [of Hive] are effectively an overhaul: the most notable changes include a full code migration to another programming language and the use of a more complex encryption method. 

What is the impact

The implications of these updates are far-reaching, we should consider that Hive is a RaaS payload that Microsoft found in attacks against organizations in the software and healthcare industries from big ransomware actors like DEV-0237. 

Microsoft has mentioned some advantages of Rust over other languages that make it one of the most preferred languages among programmers, like good crypto library support and better memory security. 

Following are the benefits of Rust language, as per Microsoft: 

  • It offers memory, data type, and thread-safety It has deep control over low-level resources It has a user-friendly syntax 
  • It has several mechanisms for concurrency and parallelism, thus enabling fast and safe file encryption 
  • It has a good variety of cryptographic libraries 
  • It's relatively more difficult to reverse-engineer 

ZDNet reports "Microsoft found that the new ransom note differs from the one used in older variants. The new note instructs victims: "Do not delete or reinstall VMs. There will be nothing to decrypt" and "Do not modify, rename or delete *.key files. Your data will be undecryptable." The *.key files are the files that Hive has encrypted."

Alert! Teen Hackers are Using Discord to Disseminate Malware


Avast security researchers found a Discord channel where a group of teenagers is developing, updating, promoting, and selling malware and ransomware outbreaks, allegedly to make pocket money. 

The researchers assume they are all minors since they referenced their parents and instructors frequently and casually used age-specific slurs. Researchers discovered their actions via their Discord chat. The hackers sell malware variants of Snatch, Lunar, and Rift and provide a variety of services ranging from data theft to ransomware and crypto mining. 

However, researchers discovered that teen hackers mostly give easy-to-use malware builders and toolkits, allowing users to utilise them without real programming by using the "Do it yourself" (DIY) technique. 

How does the Group function? 

To become a group member or utilise the malware-as-a-service capability, interested parties must pay a charge. The registration price ranges from €5 to €25. Avast researchers observed in their analysis that about 100 accounts have already enrolled to get access to a hacking group. The malware dissemination method is a little unusual. 

The hackers posted a YouTube video displaying a bogus crack for a popular computer game or commercial software, along with a download link in the description. To establish credibility, additional users of the Discord group leave comments on the video, thanking the originator and confirming that the connection works. This method is even more twisted than bots for commenting since it becomes hard to recognise. 

How Should One Handle Teen Hackers? 

This scenario is undoubtedly troubling. As a result, hacking ability among teenagers and minors must be channelled towards beneficial, ethical endeavours for the general benefit of the cybersecurity sector. 

Parents must communicate to their children to understand the motivational elements that drive them to distribute malware. There are several tools accessible on Discord and other platforms to assist anyone interested in pursuing a career in the cybersecurity field. 

The first step, though, is for parents to interact with their children without passing judgement. It is worth emphasising that the organisation distributes unlawful malware without comprehending the gravity of the situation and dismissing it as a prank.

Phony Copyright Emails Employed to Install LockBit Ransomware


LockBit ransomware operators are employing a unique strategy to lure victims into infecting their devices with malware by portraying it as copyright claims. 

The ransomware hackers target victims by sending an email regarding a copyright violation for allegedly using media files without the creator’s license. It also urges the victim to remove the content from their websites immediately or face legal action. 

The emails, identified by analysts at AhnLab in Korea, do not determine which files were inappropriately employed in the body of the text; rather, they instruct the receiver to download and open the attached file in order to view the infringing content. 

The attachment is a ZIP file that has been encrypted with a password and contains a compressed file. The archive contains a compressed file, an executable file posing as a PDF document. The executable is an NSIS installer, loading the LockBit 2.0 ransomware which, in turn, encrypts all of the files on the endpoint. 

As BleepingComputer reports, copyright claims are not exactly a novelty when it comes to distributing malware. Earlier this year, there had been “numerous” emails of this sort, distributing the likes of BazarLoader, or the Bumblebee malware loader. 

Bumblebee is employed for deploying second-stage payloads, including ransomware, so opening one of those files on your computer may lead to rapid and disastrous assaults. Copyright claims are a matter that publishers of content should take into serious consideration, but if the claim isn't straightforward but instead requests you to open attached files to view the violation details, it's improbable for it to be a genuine takedown notice. 

LockBit 2.0 is by far the most widespread ransomware variant, security analysts from the NCC group have said. Allegedly, LockBit 2.0 accounted for 40% of all ransomware attacks that occurred in May this year. The notorious ransomware operation recorded a whopping 95 victims in May alone, whereas Conti, BlackBasta, Hive, and BlackCat collectively had 65. 

To mitigate the risks, multi-factor authentication can be applied across the entire ecosystem in order to provide an additional layer of defense against cyber assaults. Those behind LockBit attacks have also been known to exploit stolen usernames and passwords, so if it's known that a password has been part of a data breach, it should be changed.

Ransomware Group Leveraged Mitel Zero-Day Bug To Target VOIP Appliances


CrowdStrike researchers have identified ransomware groups targeting a zero-day flaw impacting the Linux-based Mitel VoIP appliance. 

The vulnerability tracked as CVE-2022-29499 was patched earlier this year in April by Mitel after CrowdStrike researcher Patrick Bennett unearthed the bug during a ransomware investigation. 

In a blog post published last week, Bennett explained that after taking the Mitel VoIP appliance offline, he unearthed a “novel remote code execution exploit used by the threat actor to gain initial access to the environment.” 

“After tracing threat actor activity to an IP address assigned to the Mitel MiVoice Connect VoIP appliance, CrowdStrike received a disk image of the Linux system and began analysis. CrowdStrike’s analysis identified anti-forensic techniques that were performed by the threat actor on the Mitel appliance in an attempt to hide their activity,” Bennett said. 

Although the hacker erased all files from the VoIP device’s filesystem, Bennett was able to retrieve forensic data from the device. This included the initial undocumented exploit used to compromise the device, the tools subsequently downloaded by the threat actor to the device, and even evidence of specific anti-forensic measures taken by the attacker. 

The zero-day bug impacts the Mitel Service Appliance component of MiVoice Connect. The company rated the bug critical and said it could be abused in MiVoice Connect Service Appliances, SA 100, SA 400, and/or Virtual SA, Mitel explained in its security advisory. 

"A vulnerability has been identified in the Mitel Service Appliance component of MiVoice Connect (Mitel Service Appliances – SA 100, SA 400, and Virtual SA) which could allow a malicious actor to perform remote code execution (CVE-2022-29499) within the context of the Service Appliance," the company stated.

The exploit entailed two HTTP GET requests — which are used to retrieve a specific resource from a server — to trigger remote code execution by fetching rogue commands from the attacker-controlled infrastructure. 

The hacker leveraged the exploit to design a reverse shell, utilizing it to launch a web shell ("pdf_import.php") on the VoIP appliance and download the open-source Chisel proxy tool.

Subsequently, the binary was implemented, but only after renaming it to "memdump" in an attempt to fly under the radar and use the utility as a "reverse proxy to allow the threat actor to pivot further into the environment via the VOIP device." 

But detection of the activity halted their operation and restricted them from moving laterally across the network. The announcement of a zero-day bug arrives less than two weeks after German penetration testing firm SySS disclosed two vulnerabilities in Mitel 6800/6900 desk phones (CVE-2022-29854 and CVE-2022-29855) that, if successfully exploited, could have allowed threat actors to secure root privileges on the devices.

QNAP NAS Devices Struck by eCh0raix Ransomware Attacks


The ech0raix ransomware has resumed targeting vulnerable QNAP Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems this week, as per user complaints and sample uploads on the ID Ransomware site.

ech0raix (also known as QNAPCrypt) began attacking QNAP customers in many large-scale waves in the summer of 2019 when attackers brute-forced their entry into Internet-exposed NAS equipment. Since then, victims of this ransomware strain have discovered and reported numerous further campaigns, in June 2020, May 2020, and a large wave of assaults targeting devices with weak passwords that began in mid-December 2021 (just before Christmas) and gradually declined towards early February 2022. 

A fresh series of ech0raix assaults have been validated by an increase in the amount of ID Ransomware submissions and users reporting getting affected on the BleepingComputer forums, with the first hit on June 8. 

Although just a few dozen ech0raix samples have been submitted, the real number of successful assaults is likely to be larger because only a subset of victims will utilize the ID Ransomware service to detect the ransomware that encrypted their devices. 

While this ransomware has been used to encrypt Synology NAS systems since August 2021, this time victims have solely reported attacks on QNAP NAS systems. The attack vector employed in the current ech0raix campaign is unknown until QNAP releases additional information on these attacks. 

How to Protect NAS Against Attacks 

While QNAP is yet to give a warning to consumers about these assaults, the firm has already recommended users secure their data from potential eCh0raix attacks 
  • by using stronger passwords for administrator accounts
  • activating IP Access Protection to protect accounts from brute force assaults, 
  • and preventing the use of the default port numbers 443 and 8080 
In this security advice, QNAP gives extensive step-by-step instructions for changing the NAS password, enabling IP Access Protection, and changing the system port number. 

Customers are also advised by the Taiwanese hardware manufacturer to stop Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) port forwarding on their routers to avoid exposing their NAS systems to Internet-based assaults. One can also stop SSH and Telnet connections and enable IP and account access prevention by following these step-by-step instructions. QNAP also urged users on Thursday to protect their devices against continuous DeadBolt ransomware threats. 

"According to the investigation by the QNAP Product Security Incident Response Team (QNAP PSIRT), the attack targeted NAS devices using QTS 4.3.6 and QTS 4.4.1, and the affected models were mainly TS-x51 series and TS-x53 series," the NAS maker stated.

"QNAP urges all NAS users to check and update QTS to the latest version as soon as possible, and avoid exposing their NAS to the Internet."