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Sophos 2023 Threat Report: Cryptocurrency Will Fuel Cyberattacks

The Sophos 2022 Threat Report, released by Sophos, a pioneer in next-generation cybersecurity, illustrates how the gravitational influence of ransomware is attracting other cyber threats to building one vast, linked ransomware delivery system, having essential ramifications for IT security.

Entry-level hackers can buy malware and spyware installation tools from illicit markets like Genesis, and also sell illegal passwords or other data in mass. Access brokers increasingly sell other criminal groups' credentials and susceptible software exploits.

A new ransomware-as-a-service economy has emerged in the last decade due to the rising popularity of ransomware. In 2022, this as-a-service business model has grown, and almost every component of the cybercrime toolkit from initial infection to methods of evading detection is now accessible for purchase, according to the researchers.

Several step-by-step tools and methods that attackers might use to spread the ransomware were revealed when an affiliate of the Conti ransomware published the deployment guide supplied by the operators. RaaS affiliates and other ransomware operators can use malware distribution platforms and IABs to discover and target potential victims once they have the virus they require. The second significant trend predicted by Sophos is being fueled by this.

Gootloader was launching innovative hybrid operations in 2021, as per Sophos's research, that blended broad campaigns with rigorous screening to identify targets for particular malware packs.

Ransomware distribution and delivery will continue to be adapted by well-known cyber threats. Which include spam, spyware, loaders, droppers, and other common malware in addition to increasingly sophisticated, manually handled first access brokers.

Data theft and exposure, threatening phone calls, distributed denial of service (DDoS) assaults, and other pressure tactics were all included in the list of ten pressure methods Sophos incident responders compiled in 2021.

Cryptocurrency will continue to feed cybercrimes like ransomware and unlawful crypto mining. In 2021, Sophos researchers discovered crypto miners like Lemon Duck and MrbMiner, which installed themselves on machines and servers by using newly revealed vulnerabilities and targets that had already been compromised by ransomware operators. Sophos anticipates that the trend will continue until international cryptocurrencies are better regulated.

In addition to promoting their products, cybercrime vendors sometimes post job openings to hire attackers with specialized capabilities. In addition to profiles of their abilities and qualifications, job seekers are posting help-wanted sites on some markets, which also have technical hiring personnel.

As web services grow, different kinds of credentials, particularly cookies, can be utilized in a variety of ways to penetrate networks more deeply and even get through MFA. Credential theft continues to be one of the simplest ways for new criminals to enter gray markets and start their careers.

A Ransomware Attack Hit Two Michigan Schools

In response to a ransomware attack, two Michigan school districts have shuttered. Kevin Oxley, the superintendent of the Jackson County Intermediate School District, announced that until Wednesday school would remain closed.

In order to look into the incident and get support in re-establishing their systems in a secure manner, the schools alerted law enforcement and hired external cybersecurity advisors.

According to Det. Lt. Mike Teachout of the Michigan Cyber Command Center, the district got in touch with the organization. This organization is in charge of coordinating the joint efforts of the emergency response to cyber occurrences in Michigan.

The schools encouraged everyone to abstain from using any school-issued gadgets as a precaution.

According to Kevin Oxley, "This intrusion occurred because we were victims of a ransomware attack that was spotted over the weekend. Credits to overnight work by our tech staff and cybersecurity professionals. We actively shut down networks as soon as we noticed suspicious behavior in order to contain the situation."

While restoration efforts are ongoing, Oxley stated that getting students back in class on Thursday was the first priority. "We prioritized bringing vital systems back up to allow us to safely restart operations and reopen school buildings across Jackson and Hillsdale counties," Oxley said.

Over 24,000 pupils are enrolled in the district. According to officials, Hillsdale Community District Schools, whose technology services are provided by a county consortium, were also impacted by the incident.

A wide range of facility operations, including but not limited to heating, telephones, and classroom equipment, were affected by the cyberattack that transpired over the weekend of November 12–13, forcing schools in Jackson and Hillsdale counties to cancel classes for the whole week. As of yet, no cybercrime organization has been held responsible for the attack.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the largest school systems in the US, was the victim of a ransomware attack in September. School districts that are a prime target for ransomware gangs now must exercise caution. 




Cyberattack Targets US Hospital in Texas

Just several weeks following one of the largest healthcare cyberattacks in the US, another hospital system was taken down by a ransomware attack. 

According to a report, OakBend discovered that cybercriminals had accessed its network and encrypted parts of its system on September 1, 2022. In reaction, OakBend started working on network restoration before getting in touch with a third-party data security organization to help with the business's investigation into the event.

The investigation revealed that OakBend Medical Center's computer system had been accessed without authorization and that the hackers had been able to delete some of the material that was accessible.

OakBend Medical Center started looking through the affected files after learning that private customer information had been made available to an unauthorized entity, in order to ascertain what information had been hacked and whose customers were impacted.

On October 28, the medical system notified the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of a data breach affecting approximately 500,000 people. The attack has been linked to the ransomware and data extortion gang Daixin Team.

The group, which was formed in June of this year, has financial motivations. Fitzgibbon Hospital in Missouri was its prior victim, and the gang claims to have stolen 40GB of confidential data, including personnel and patient records.

Additionally, CommonSpirit, which manages over 140 hospitals in the US, decided not to reveal the precise number of its locations that were experiencing delays. However, a number of hospitals have reported being impacted, including CHI Memorial Hospital in Tennessee, some St. Luke's hospitals in Texas, and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle.

According to Brett Callow, a cybersecurity specialist at Emsisoft, ransomware has been used to breach 19 significant hospital chains in the United States this year.

OakBend stated: "Our analysis shows that only a small quantity of data was really transported outside of the OakBend computing environment, even though we are aware that the hackers had access to OakBend's servers to encrypt our data. However, it does seem that the cybercriminals were able to access or remove several employee data sets and some reports that contained the private and medical information pertaining to our present and past patients, employees, and connected individuals."

To all those whose information was affected as a result of the current data breach, OakBend Medical Center handed out data breach notifications on October 31, 2022.

FBI Nearly Adopted NSO's Spyware

According to a report published by the New York Times on Saturday, several agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation worked to enhance the rollout of Pegasus, the notorious phone-hacking program created by Israel's NSO Group. 

What is Pegasus?

Once installed, Pegasus spyware enables the user to fully manage a target's phone, allowing them to see messages, listen in on calls, and access the phone as a remote listening device.

Significant numbers of human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and corporate executives were reportedly designated as potential targets of NSO's Pegasus program, which has caused criticism for the Israeli company responsible for its development. 

When smartphones are infected with Pegasus, they effectively become portable surveillance tools that can be used to read the target's messages, browse through the images, or even switch on the user's camera and microphone secretly.

FBI Purchased Pegasus 

The highly classified files, which were provided to the Times in response to a FOIA request, reveal that agency officials had developed guidelines for federal prosecutors concerning how to disclose Pegasus usage in court proceedings and were progressed in organizing to brief FBI heads on the malware.

Additionally, the FBI asserted that Pegasus had never been used to assist an FBI investigation. The FBI only obtained a restricted license for product testing and evaluation, the statement read "There was no functional use in support of any investigation."

The announcement represents a clear admission by the FBI that it purchased Pegasus, one of the most advanced hacking tools in existence.

The FBI examined NSO's Phantom software, which has the ability to hack US phones, earlier this year, the press reported. After learning that NSO's hackers were linked to violations of human rights all around the world and as negative press about the technology spread, the FBI eventually opted against utilizing it.

The New York Times broke the news of the FBI's acquisition of Pegasus in 2019 while the Trump administration was in control. However, the bureau has still not ruled out the potential of using comparable technology in the future, the report said, citing recent court records.

A legal brief submitted on the bureau's behalf last month stated that "just because the FBI eventually decided not to deploy the tool in support of criminal investigations does not mean it would not test, evaluate, and potentially deploy other similar tools for gaining access to encrypted communications used by criminals."



Australian Medibank Alert Customers After Private Data Leak

The major health insurer in Australia, Medibank Private Ltd (MPL.AX), revealed on Wednesday that the hacker may leak additional stolen data if the company continues to refuse to pay the demanded ransom. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged that he is one of the millions of Australian Medibank customers who may have been impacted by the most recent cyberattack, but he supported the insurer's refusal to pay a ransom.

"For some, this is incredibly difficult. It will worry me that part of this information has been made public as I am also a Medibank Private customer," said Albanese.

According to Medibank, additional Australian customers' private medical information will likely be posted on the dark web as the perpetrators of the most recent cyberattack try to put more pressure on the insurance.

A sample of customer information, which included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, and email addresses, was discovered to have been placed online on the dark web this morning. In other instances, the passport numbers of foreign students who had registered with Medibank Group's partner company ahm were also made public.

If a hacker gained access to the prime minister's personal or medical information, it is not immediately evident. According to Medibank, information on 9.7 million of both current and former clients was exposed.

Federal Cyber Security Minister Clare O'Neil stated in a statement on Wednesday that Medibank's decision to forego paying a ransom is in line with the government's recommendation. Customers that were affected were encouraged to be extremely vigilant against extortion attempts. On Wednesday, Medibank Chief Executive David Koczkar called the occurrence 'a criminal crime.'

Since September, there has been an increase in cyberattacks in Australia, with at least eight businesses reporting intrusions, including the telecom company Optus, which is owned by Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI).

 Cyberattacks Against US Hospitals are Growing Rapidly

Ransomware has emerged as one of the most challenging issues in cybersecurity and a threat to industries worldwide. With ransomware, hackers extort businesses and organizations by breaking into and frequently holding computers and files hostage. However, it can have a particularly negative impact on patient care when it affects hospital networks and cascades across the nation. 

According to The Des Moines Register, ransomware hackers targeted MercyOne in the first few days of October as part of a more significant attack that resulted in hospital-wide outages at many other health systems. It was unclear how many of the 140 hospitals under the management of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit healthcare organization with headquarters in Chicago, were impacted, and the organization declined to disclose the number.

Since having the tonsils removed, Kelley Parsi brought her 3-year-old son to a hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, where she anticipated that the staff would treat his pain and dehydration and then send him home. She claimed that instead, the excursion turned into one of her most terrifying days ever.

She was told by the resident doctor that he had accidentally given him five times what was prescribed, due to the computer system that automatically calculated medication doses not functioning. Later, she found out that part of the hospital's digital equipment had been disabled by a cyberattack. While her son's body digested the overdose, she waited several hours in fear.

In addition, CommonSpirit, which operates more than 140 hospitals in the United States, opted not to disclose the number of its locations experiencing delays. However, a number of hospitals have reported being impacted, including Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle, certain St. Luke's hospitals in Texas, and CHI Memorial Hospital in Tennessee.

According to Brett Callow, an expert at the cybersecurity company Emsisoft, ransomware has been used to hack into 19 major hospital chains in the United States this year.

Due to patient confidentiality, MercyOne, Parsi's hospital, declined to comment on her condition. "It was dedicated to delivering safe, high-quality treatment for all patients we serve in their time of need," a representative said in a statement.

The U.S. government lists health care as one of 16 important infrastructure sectors. Hackers view healthcare organizations as prime targets.

However, a significant assessment by the government Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and a poll of healthcare IT experts concluded that a ransomware attack on a hospital puts more strain on its capabilities generally and raises death rates there.

Indianapolis Housing Authority Hit by Ransomware

According to a senior agency official, a ransomware attack on the federal organization in Indianapolis which manages low-income housing has caused a delay in the distribution of rent payments to landlords.

During the attack, which started weeks ago, every employee of the Indianapolis Housing Agency blocked access to their email. That concerned its executive director, Marcia Lewis, who was unable to access her email for days before being able to do so again on Tuesday, according to a message she wrote to The Indianapolis Star.

The inability to send October rent payments to landlords under the federal housing choice voucher program, generally known as Section 8, on which 8,000 Indianapolis families rely, was caused by the ransomware attack on the Indianapolis Housing Agency. The organization oversees the administration of the Section 8 program in Indianapolis, which offers rental help to very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities for housing on the private market.

Marcia Lewis stated that the attack was still continuing as of Wednesday and that an investigation by data security professionals, police enforcement, and the agency's IT service providers is in progress. The housing authority has not disclosed information regarding the purpose or identity of those responsible for the ransomware attack, which utilizes software to encrypt files within a victim organization in order to demand payment.

With the help of Section 8 or through residing in one of the organization's public housing complexes, almost 25,000 people rely on the Indianapolis Housing Agency for a variety of housing services.

Lewis claimed that as of Monday, the organization had successfully paid every Section 8 landlord's rent for the month of October. The company had to manually send out client power allowance checks and important vendor payments during the previous week since the IT system was unavailable.

The Indianapolis Star has previously written about the abuse that residents of Indianapolis Housing Agency buildings have experienced. Some of the issues residents have encountered include bed insect infestations, air conditioner outages on some of this summer's hottest days, or a lack of hot water at the beginning of October.

Landlords are prohibited from evicting residents for nonpayment by the agency under Section 8 laws set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including in the present instance.

Cyberattack Triggers a Service Outage at Hartnell College

In reaction to a potential cybersecurity attack, Hartnell College's governing board conducted an urgent meeting on Wednesday evening to address the ongoing network outage at the institution.

The college's security system detected unusual behavior at 6 a.m. on Sunday, prompting Hartnell Vice President of Technology Chelsy Pham to take precautions and shut down the college's servers at around 8 a.m. Pham reported that the network had high levels of activity, which is unusual for a Sunday morning.

The main school in Salinas as well as the satellite campuses in East Salinas, Soledad, Castroville, and King City were all affected by the outage. According to Pham, the satellite campuses' internet was disabled out of an abundance of caution.

On Monday, there was no postponement of classes and the school's services were still available. Even though classes were still in session on Wednesday, students who depend heavily on the internet while on campus find the outage to be a hassle.

According to Pham, the college is striving to gradually reactivate the network. Although some lab and classroom conditions have to be changed, lessons have not been disrupted because the school's online teaching platform, Canvas, is up and running.

The college's phone system is still down as of now, but emails and text messages are still being delivered, according to Pham. Pham stated that there is no set date when the network will be completely functioning once more, but the college is undertaking extra efforts to get the system back up. 

The FBI issued a warning to K–12 institutions in 2020 over the continuation of ransomware attacks and data thefts into the 2020–2021 academic year. Data from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center show that K–12 schools were implicated in 57 percent of all ransomware attacks reported to the organization in August and September, up from 28 percent from January through July.

Although the public was not permitted to join Hartnell's emergency governing board meeting where the current problem was reviewed, Gutierrez said the college is preparing a statement to release in the coming days. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which compelled colleges and school districts to rely on technology to instruct students, such attacks have grown to be a major threat to American institutions.

Evolution of LilithBot Malware and Eternity Threat Group

A variant of the versatile malware LilithBot was recently uncovered by ThreatLabz in its database. This was connected to the Eternity group, also known as the Eternity Project, a threat entity affiliated with the Russian Jester Group, which has been operating since at least January 2022, according to further investigation.

In the darknet, Eternity disseminates many malware modules bearing the Eternity name, such as a stealer, miner, botnet, ransomware, worm+dropper, and DDoS bot.

LilithBot Malware

The distribution channels for the LilithBot that were found were a specialized Telegram group and a Tor connection that offered one-stop shopping for these multiple payloads. It included built-in stealer, clipper, and miner capabilities in addition to its primary botnet activity. 

The LilithBot multipurpose malware bot was discovered by Zscaler's ThreatLabz threat research team in July 2022 and was being offered as a subscription by the Eternity organization. In this campaign, the threat actor adds the user to its botnet and then steals files and user data by sending it via the Tor network to a command-and-control (C2) server. The malware in this campaign performs the functions of a stealer, miner, clipper, and botnet while using false certificates to avoid detection.

This malware-as-a-service (MaaS) is unusual because, in addition to using a Telegram channel to share updates on the latest features, it also uses a Telegram Bot to let customers create the binary. Common cryptocurrencies accepted by Eternity for payments include BTC, ETH, XMR, USDT, LTC, DASH, ZEC, and DOGE. Eternity often conducts business via Telegram.

If the buyer requests it, hackers will construct viruses with add-on functionality and offer customized viruses. The infection costs from $90 and $470 in USD. The Eternity Telegram channel demonstrates the frequent upgrades and improvements the team makes to its services.

The Eternity gang frequently refers users to a dedicated Tor link where a detailed description of their various viruses and their features may be found. The Tor link takes you to the homepage, where you can learn more about the different products and modules you may buy. The targeted user's files and documents are encrypted by the malware. A specific video explaining how to create the ransomware payload is available on the Tor page. Their Ransomware is the most expensive item on sale. For yearly membership, Eternity Stealer costs $260.
  • Eternity Miner as a yearly subscription costs $90.
  • Eternity Miner ($90 )as an annual subscription 
  • Eternity Clipper ($110 )
  • Eternity Ransomware ($490)
  • Eternity Worm ($390)
  • Eternity DDoS Bot (N/A) 

It is adaptable to the unique needs of clients and can constantly be updated at no further cost. They also provide their clients with numerous additional discounts and perks.

It is possible that the organization is still carrying out these tasks as the LilithBot malware has developed, but doing so in more complex ways, for as by completing them dynamically, encrypting the tasks like other areas of code, or employing other cutting-edge strategies.

The 'Microsoft Code Signing PCA' certificate authority issues a valid Microsoft-signed file, and it will also show a countersignature from Verisign. But as research is seen, LilithBot's bogus certificates lack a countersignature and appear to have been granted by the unverified Microsoft Code Signing PCA 2011.

Noberus Ransomware Has Updated Its Methods

Recently there has been an increase in the use of different techniques, tools, and procedures (TTPs) by attackers using the Noberus aka BlackCat ransomware, making the threat more serious than ever. On Thursday, Symantec provided new techniques, tools, and procedures (TTPs) that Noberus ransomware attackers have employed recently.

Noberus is believed to be the sequel payload to the Darkside and BlackMatter ransomware family, according to a blog post by Symantec's Threat Hunter Team. The company said that Darkside is the same virus that was used in the May 2021 ransomware assault on Colonial Pipeline.

About  Coreid 

Coreid operates a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) business, which implies it creates the malware but licenses it to affiliates in exchange for a share of the earnings. 

Since Noberus was the first genuine ransomware strain to be deployed in real-world attacks and it was written in the computer language Rust, it piqued interest when it was discovered in November 2021; as a cross-platform language, Rust is notable. In accordance with Coreid, Noberus can encrypt files on the Windows, EXSI, Debian, ReadyNAS, and Synology operating systems.

The organization has chosen to utilize the ransomware known as Noberus, which is short for the BlackCat ALPHV ransomware that has been used in attacks on multiple American colleges, to escape law enforcement by using fresh ransomware strains, according to Symantec researchers.

The researchers claim that the criminal organization first started stealing money from businesses in the banking, hospitality, and retail industries using the Carbanak malware. Before the group's transition towards ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation in the early 2020s, three of its members were arrested in 2018.

Noberus is a destructive ransomware

Coreid emphasized Noberus' various improvements over other ransomware, such as encrypted negotiation conversations that can only be seen by the intended victim. Cybercriminals have access to two different encryption methods and four different ways to encrypt computers, depending on their needs for speed and the size of their data heaps, thanks to Noberus.

Noberus employs a program called Exmatter to recover the stolen data. According to Symantec, Exmatter is made to take particular kinds of files from particular directories and upload them to the attacker's site even before the ransomware is activated. Exmatter, which is constantly modified and updated to exfiltrate files through FTP, SFTP, or WebDav, can produce a report of all the processed exfiltrated files and if used in a non-corporate setting, it has the potential to self-destruct.

Noberus is also capable of collecting credentials from Veeam backup software, a data protection and recovery product that many organizations use to store login information for domain controllers and cloud services, utilizing information-stealing malware called Infostealer. By using a specific SQL query, the malware known as Eamfo can connect to the SQL database containing the credentials and steal them.

Symantec reported that in December the gang introduced a 'Plus' category for allies who had extorted at least $1.5 million in attacks. The group has demonstrated that it will cut off allies who don't earn enough in ransoms, according to Symantec.

A potent data exfiltration tool for the most common file types, including.pdf,.doc,.docx,.xls,.xlsx,.png,.jpg,.jpeg,.txt, and more, was added to Coreid last month.

Similar to some other organizations, Coreid has outlined four primary entities that affiliates are not permitted to attack: the Commonwealth of Independent States, nations with ties to Russia, healthcare providers, and nonprofits.

According to Symantec, the affiliates are 'directed to avoid assaulting the education and government sectors,' but given the numerous attacks on universities around the world, they seem to be lax about this directive.




Zyxel Updates NAS Devices to Fix Potential Security Flaw

Shaposhnikov Ilya alerted about a major security vulnerability, targeting Zyxel's network-attached storage (NAS) device. The vulnerability was identified as CVE-2022-3474 and the patches for the same were released. The vulnerability officially described as a 'format string vulnerability' affects Zyxel NAS326 firmware versions before V5.21(AAZF.12)C0 and has a CVSS score of 9.8/10.

An attacker could take advantage of the issue by sending specially created UDP packets to vulnerable products. The firm said in an alert that a successful flaw exploit might allow a hacker to run whatever code they want on the vulnerable device.

Zyxel provided security upgrades in May 2022 to address a number of vulnerabilities impacting a variety of products, including firewall, AP, and AP controller products.

The following versions are affected by the flaw:
  • NAS326 (versions before V5.21(AAZF.11)C0)
  • NAS540 (versions prior to V5.21(AATB.8)C0), and
  • Prior to V5.21(ABAG.8)C0, NAS542
This revelation follows Zyxel's July patching of the CVE-2022-30526 and CVE-2022-2030 vulnerabilities impacting its firewall products, which affect local root access and authenticated directory traverse.

The four vulnerabilities with the command injection bug in some CLI commands classified as CVE-2022-26532 being the most critical are as follows: 
  • CVE-2022-0734: A cross-site scripting vulnerability was found in the CGI program of various firewall versions, which could let an attacker use a malicious script to access data stored in the user's browser, like cookies or session tokens.
  • CVE-2022-26531: Several erroneous input validation problems were discovered in several CLI commands of some firewall, AP controller, and AP versions that might let a local authorized attacker bring down the system or trigger a buffer overflow through the use of a specially crafted payload.
  • CVE-2022-26532: Certain firewall, AP controller, and AP versions contain the 'packet-trace' CLI command that contains a command injection vulnerability that might allow a local, authorized attacker to execute arbitrary OS instructions by providing specially crafted inputs to the function.
  • CVE-2022-0910: In the CGI program of various firewall versions, an authentication bypass issue resulting from a deficient access control mechanism has been discovered. An attacker may be able to use an IPsec VPN client to switch from two-factor verification to one-factor verification due to the bug.
A few days after QNAP issued a warning about a fresh wave of Deadbolt ransomware attacks aimed at its NAS consumers, Zyxel released its caution. 

In earlier assaults that exploited another critical-severity vulnerability resulting in remote code execution, a Mirai botnet variant targeted Zyxel NAD products.

Remote code execution flaws in NAS devices, which are frequently used to store massive amounts of data, might easily result in complete device compromise. NAS devices are frequently the target of ransomware assaults. 


20K Users' Data was Stolen by Blackbyte Ransomware Group

 


Owing to a ransomware attack that impacted its network earlier this year, the NFL's San Francisco 49ers are distributing warning letters to all affected individuals, revealing a data breach impacting more than 20,000 of them.

A week prior to Super Bowl Sunday, the BlackByte ransomware group targeted the team's networks, sparking concerns about what would have transpired had the club retained its late-game lead two weeks earlier to win the championship game.

Personal information belonging to 20,930 people was accessed and taken during the hack between February 6 and February 11, 2022, according to the San Francisco Bay Area professional American football team.

On Monday, the company announced that an investigation had been updated and that the theft had taken six days. Also, it stated it has begun sending letters of notification to people whose data may have been exposed. The group said that it "conducted a thorough assessment of these data to discover the individuals whose data was stored within, and additional research to locate and validate the addresses for these people."

A total of 20,930 names and related Social Security numbers were acquired during the incident, the business further stated in its notification to the Maine Attorney General's Office, where it is allowed by law to report data breaches.

In order to take credit for the hack, the BlackByte gang began leaking files purportedly taken from the 49ers' network on February 12, just as the NFL was preparing for the Super Bowl 2022.

The ransomware organization released an archive with 292 MB worth of files it claimed were invoices taken from the 49ers' infected systems.

The group first surfaced in September 2021, according to experts, with ransomware that was poorly coded. A flaw was uncovered in it, and the cybersecurity company Trustwave exploited it to produce a free decryptor.

However, the organization was able to carry out many attacks after creating a second edition of the ransomware that fixed the Trustwave's flaws. Only one day after the 49ers attack became widely known, the FBI issued a security notice regarding BlackByte.

Hackers are Actively Targeting Linux-Based Devices

Ransomware attacks against Linux have accelerated as cybercriminals try to increase their options and take advantage of an operating system that is sometimes neglected when organizations think about security. 

According to Trend Micro, hackers prefer using ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) techniques because they enable quicker deployment and higher rewards. Additionally, they increasingly focused their attacks on Linux-based computers and employed relatively new ransomware families in high-profile strikes. Operators of ransomware also used both cutting-edge and time-tested strategies to attack cloud environments.

Linux powers significant enterprise IT infrastructure, including servers, making it a target for ransomware gangs. This is especially true when cybersecurity teams may decide to concentrate on protecting Windows networks against cybercrime due to a believed lack of threat to Linux systems compared to Windows.

For instance, LockBit, one of the most widespread and effective ransomware operations in recent memory, now provides the choice of a Linux-based variant that is made to target Linux systems and has been used to carry out assaults in the field.

Hackers are regularly extending the scope of their exploits by focusing on Linux, one of the most potent operating systems utilized in cloud platforms and servers around the world, in addition to upping the ante by utilizing MaaS methods in their attacks.

The RaaS architecture makes it simpler and quicker for cyber criminals to deploy ransomware attacks than traditional ransomware models, even those with limited technical knowledge. According to SPN data, three ransomware families—the infamous LockBit, Conti, and BlackCat families—dominated the RaaS space in terms of detections. BlackCat is a family of ransomware that was developed in the Rust programming language at the end of 2021.

Attackers using ransomware are motivated by money and would jump at new possibilities if they believe they can increase their earnings; it would seem that encrypting Linux systems and demanding payment for the key to open servers and files are becoming more and more common.

According to researchers, as ransomware perpetrators strive to maximize their profits, this strategy will only grow in popularity.

It's not only ransomware entities that are focusing more on Linux, according to Trend Micro, but there has also been a 145% increase in Linux-based cryptocurrency-mining malware attacks, wherein online criminals covertly use the processing power of infected computers and servers to mine for cryptocurrency for their own gain.

Damart Suffered a Hive Ransomware Attack

A cyberattack by the Hive ransomware gang has led to an extortion attempt worth $2 million against Damart, the French clothing firm with over 130 locations throughout the world. 

The company's operations have been interrupted and some of its systems have been encrypted since August 15. In order to keep discussions confidential, the hackers have chosen not to list the victim on their extortion website.

Damart has not yet started discussions with the cybercriminals but has reported the event to the national police, thus, it remains doubtful if Hive will be compensated.

The first indication of difficulty arose on August 15 when Damart posted a notice about unexpected maintenance on the home page of their online store.

Damart, a mail-order clothing company based in Bingley, West Yorkshire, has confirmed that there was an attempt to hack into their IT systems during that time. The firm stated that "They were quickly able to intercept the attempt with strong security protocols."

In addition, the website is presently unavailable because they have temporarily restricted several services that are offered to clients as a precaution. The business places a high focus on data and system security, and reassuringly, there is no proof that any client data has been adversely affected as of yet.

On August 24, it was revealed that 92 of Damart's stores had been affected by the disruption to its sales network, which was not functioning regularly. As a result, fewer purchases were accepted, and customer service was shut down.

The company made it clear that the hackers had successfully entered the Active Directory and had begun a sudden attack that led to the encryption of some of the systems.

According to Damart, the corporation took preventive measures by shutting down systems to prevent them from being encrypted, which impaired the services.

It is yet uncertain whether Hive was successful in stealing any data during the cyberattack. The gang, however, uses the double-extortion strategy and steals data before it is encrypted. This gives the hackers the ability to threaten the victim with a data breach in order to exert pressure on the victim to pay a ransom.

The situation is similar to how Ragnar Locker's cyberattack against LDLC last December played out. By their own accord, the assailants had been stopped before they could deliver their fatal blow and activate the encryption.

According to Valery Marchive's claim, the hackers are not eager for negotiations and anticipate that parent company Damartex would pay the whole ransom. Marchive was able to recover a leaked ransom note and published data on LeMagIT.

HHS Alerts Healthcare Workers on Karakurt Ransomware Group

A new wave of cyber attacks from the Karakurt ransomware gang are reported to healthcare providers. The warning came months after CISA and FBI disclosed operational technical data on the group, along with evidence of infiltration and mock ransom notes.

A dentistry practice, an assisted care facility, a supplier, and a hospital were all impacted by the attacks. The healthcare industry should continue to be on high alert and keep an eye out for any signs of compromise, experts assert. 

According to HC3, Karakurt's "massive cyberbullying efforts against victims to disgrace them are what is most alarming."

Karakurt has been seen buying stolen login details or acquiring access to users who have already been hacked through third-party intrusion broker networks in order to access victim machines.

Fortinet FortiGate SSL VPN appliances, Log4Shell, old Microsoft Windows Server instances, and outdated SonicWall SSL VPN appliances are just a few examples of the intrusion flaws the organization is known to use to get initial access.

HHS Alert 

Karakurt first emerged in late 2021, according to a warning from the Department of Health and Human Services Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3), they are likely connected to the Conti ransomware organization, either through a working relationship or as a side company.

Given that the Conti ransomware organization has successfully attacked more than 16 healthcare providers since early 2021, federal agencies have long issued warnings about the risk attached to the sector.

Similar to other ransomware groups, the Karakurt actors claim data theft and threaten to sell it on the dark web or make it available to the general public if their demands are not met. The ransoms range from $25,000 to $13,000,000 in Bitcoin, and the timeframes are frequently set to expire just one week after the fraudsters make contact.

According to open-source reports, Karakurt threat actors typically conduct scanning, reconnaissance, and collecting on their targets for roughly two months. The organization then makes an attempt to acquire access to documents that include private data, including Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, medical history, and information about treatments. The gang retains the data and threatens its victims until they pay, as is customary with ransomware.

The recent Karakurt campaign against Methodist McKinney Hospital in early July provided evidence of this. The actors threatened to make the allegedly stolen material available, but Methodist McKinney instead alerted patients of the incident and the ongoing inquiry into the potential data theft.


Data Spyware Delivered via Telegram & Discord Bots

Hackers have utilized these messaging apps in a variety of ways to transmit their own malware, according to Intel 471's research. They have discovered ways to host, distribute, and execute various activities on these platforms, which they mostly exploit in cooperation with data theft in order to be able to steal credentials or other information from unwary users.

According to a recent study from Intel 471, threat actors are using the multifaceted nature of messaging apps — in particular, their content-creation and program-sharing components — as a basis for information stealing.

Tactics & Techniques

Researchers at Intel 471 have found a number of data thefts that are openly accessible and depend on Telegram or Discord to operate.

Additionally, these hackers conduct similar attacks against the Roblox and Minecraft gaming sites. Discord's content delivery network (CDN) is regularly used to store malware, as per researchers, because the platform doesn't place limitations on file storage.

One Telegram-focused botnet, dubbed X-Files, includes features that may be accessible through Telegram's bot commands. Once the malware has been installed on a victim's computer, criminal actors can take credit card information, login credentials, session cookies, and passwords, and send them to a Telegram channel of their choice. 

Several browsers, including Google Chrome, Chromium, Opera, Slimjet, and Vivaldi, may import data into X-Files. Although Prynt Stealer, another stealer, operates similarly, it lacks the built-in Telegram commands.

The following malware families have been seen hosting harmful payloads on Discord CDN: PrivateLoader,  Discoloader, Colibri, Warszone RAT, Modi loader, Raccoon thief, Smokeloader Amadey,  Tesla agent thief, GuLoader, Autohotkey, and njRAT.

Cautions

The entry threat for malicious actors is reduced by automation in well-known chat platforms. Data theft might be the initial step in initiating a targeted attack against an enterprise, even though they can not alone cause as much harm as malware like a data wiper or ransomware.

Although messaging services like Discord and Telegram are not often utilized for corporate activities, their popularity and the surge in remote work have increased the attack surface available to cybercriminals.




Here's How BlackMatter Ransomware is Linked With LockBit 3.0

 

LockBit 3.0, the most recent version of LockBit ransomware, and BlackMatter contain similarities discovered by cybersecurity researchers. 

In addition to introducing a brand-new leak site, the first ransomware bug bounty program, LockBit 3.0, was released in June 2022. Zcash was also made available as a cryptocurrency payment method.

"The encrypted filenames are appended with the extensions 'HLJkNskOq' or '19MqZqZ0s' by the ransomware, and its icon is replaced with a.ico file icon. The ransom note then appears, referencing 'Ilon Musk'and the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union (GDPR)," researchers from Trend Micro stated.

The ransomware alters the machine's wallpaper when the infection process is finished to alert the user of the attack. Several LockBit 3.0's code snippets were found to be lifted from the BlackMatter ransomware by Trend Micro researchers when they were debugging the Lockbit 3.0 sample.

Identical ransomware threats

The researchers draw attention to the similarities between BlackMatter's privilege escalation and API harvesting techniques. By hashing a DLL's API names and comparing them to a list of the APIs the ransomware requires, LockBit 3.0 executes API harvesting. As the publically accessible script for renaming BlackMatter's APIs also functions for LockBit 3.0, this procedure is the same as that of BlackMatter.

The most recent version of LockBit also examines the UI language of the victim machine to prevent infection of machines that speak these languages in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states.

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) via COM objects is used by Lockbit 3.0 and BlackMatter to delete shadow copies. Experts draw attention to the fact that LockBit 2.0 deletes using vssadmin.exe.

The findings coincide with LockBit attacks becoming the most active ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) gangs in 2022, with the Italian Internal Revenue Service (L'Agenzia delle Entrate) being the most recent target.

The ransomware family contributed to 14% of intrusions, second only to Conti at 22%, according to Palo Alto Networks' 2022 Unit 42 Incident Response Report, which was released and is based on 600 instances handled between May 2021 and April 2022.


Windows 11: Account Lockout Policy Set Against Brute Force Attacks

Brute force exploits are injected into ransomware and other sorts of unauthorized access since they typically rely on automated methods to test a massive amount of passwords for one or more user accounts. 

Beginning with Insider Preview version 22528.1000, Windows 11 automatically mitigates such exploits by capping the number of unsuccessful sign-in attempts at 10, for a period of 10 minutes.

"In order to reduce RDP and other brute force password vectors, DEFAULT account lockout policy is now enabled in Win11 builds. The command will make brute forcing more tricky, which is decent. This technique is frequently used in Human Operated Ransomware and other attacks," stated David Weston, vice president of OS and enterprise security at Microsoft.

Setting Lockout Policy

By establishing a threshold of between 1 and 999 failed sign-in attempts that would cause a user account to be locked, IT security professionals already had the option of preventing brute force attacks using the account lockout policy.

The Account lockout threshold policy enables configuring the maximum number of unsuccessful sign-in attempts before a user account is locked. Once locked, an account cannot be used again until the administrator unlocks it or until the time period provided by the Account lockout duration policy setting has passed. 

It suggested restricting the account lockout time to no more than 15 minutes and setting the account lockout threshold to a high enough number to cater to users mistakenly mistyping their passwords.

However, the reset account lockout countdown will eventually run out, giving the user three more opportunities if they wait and try to log in again the following day, effectively making it appear as though there have been no failed logins.

The effectiveness of brute force attacks is considerably reduced by restricting the amount of password entry tries, but Microsoft warns that threat actors could abuse this security feature to perform denial-of-service (DoS) attacks by locking multiple user accounts in an enterprise.


ESXi , Linux, and Windows Systems at Risk From New Luna Ransomware

Luna is a brand-new ransomware family that was written in Rust, making it the third strain to do so after BlackCat and Hive, according to Kaspersky security researchers

The experts who examined the ransomware's command-line options believe that Luna is a reasonably straightforward ransomware program. 

Luna ransomware

This interesting encryption method combines x25519 with AES. The researchers discovered that the Linux and ESXi samples, which are compiled using the identical source code, differ only slightly from the Windows version.

Darknet forum advertisements for Luna imply that the ransomware is only meant to be used by affiliates who speak Russian. Due to spelling errors in the ransom note that are hard-coded into the malware, its main creators are also thought to be of Russian descent.

The Luna ransomware is also able to avoid automated static code analysis attempts by utilizing a cross-platform language.

"The source code used to compile the Windows version and the Linux and ESXi samples are identical. The remaining code is almost unchanged from the Windows version" the researchers added. Luna "confirms the trend for cross-platform ransomware," the researchers wrote, pointing out how hackers are able to target and strike at scale while avoiding static analysis, thanks to the platform flexibility of languages like Golang and Rust.

Nevertheless, considering that Luna is a recently identified criminal organization and its activities are still being constantly monitored, there is very little knowledge available regarding the victimology trends.

Black Basta

Researchers have also revealed information about the Black Basta ransomware group, which modified its software to target ESXi systems. By adding compatibility for VMware ESXi, various ransomware families, including LockBit, HelloKitty, BlackMatter, and REvil, hope to increase their potential targets.

The double-extortion attack model is used by Black Basta, a ransomware operation that has been operational since April 2022.

Researchers from Kaspersky said that operators had introduced a new feature that relies on launching the computer in safe mode before encrypting data and imitating Windows Services in order to maintain persistence.

Black Basta can avoid detection from a variety of endpoint security solutions by starting Windows in safe mode.




Businesses Hit By The Ransomware 0mega

 

Launched in May 2022, this new ransomware operation known as 0mega uses a double-extortion method to target corporations all over the world and seeks millions of dollars in ransom. 

Since a ransomware sample for the 0mega operation is not yet detected, not much is known about the encryption method used. However, what's known is that the malware adds the .0mega extension to the encrypted file names and produces ransom letters with the filename extension DECRYPT-FILES.txt, according to BleepingComputer. 

Such ransom notes are made specifically for each victim, and they typically include the name of the business and a list of the various kinds of data that were stolen. Additionally, some notes contain threats that, in the scenario that a ransom is not paid, the 0mega gang will reveal the information to commercial partners and trade associations. 

The victims can contact the ransomware group using the "help" chat feature of the Tor payment negotiation site included in ransom notes. It includes a special code to get in touch with the operators via the negotiating site. 

Like practically all ransomware operations that target businesses, 0mega has a specific site for data leaks where malicious actors disseminate stolen information if a ransom is not paid. 152 GB of data that was stolen from an electronics repair business in a May incident is now hosted on 0mega's leak site. 

Last week, though, there was a second victim who has since been eliminated, suggesting that the business has perhaps paid a ransom. In a published blog post The digest 'Crypto ransomware', researchers Lawrence Abrams and Andrew Ivanov discusss the malware in detail.