Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Is the threat of a large-scale DDoS attack enough to convince organizations to bow to a ransomware attack?
It might be a good time for companies to invest in DDoS protection , as hackers have begun to use the threat of large-scale DDoS attacks to carry out ransomware attacks on organizations .
According to a new blog post from Cloudflare, a major company, in the Fortune Global 500, was the target of a DDoS ransomware attack ( RDDoS ) in late 2020. The attacking group claimed to be Lazarus Group , North Korea’s largest and most active hacking division .
This extortion attempt was part of a larger trend of ransom campaigns that has been developing throughout the past year . Cybercriminals will likely continue to use similar methods, as they have been quite successful.
What is a DDoS Ransomware?
Unlike a ransomware attack in which cybercriminals enter a company’s network in order to block their files, RDDoS attacks use the threat to obscure the Dell website. ‘company with traffic overload and this can be crippling for business.
Just as an organization can use cloud backup and other similar services to protect its data from being blocked following a ransomware attack, DDoS protection ensures that a company’s website remains secure if it is suddenly flooded with traffic overload.
What is a DDoS attack?
Before continuing and to better understand what we are talking about.
DDoS is an acronics which means Distributed Denial of Service . Attacks of this type target websites and online services. The goal is to flood the site with more traffic than the server or network can accommodate . The purpose is to make the website or service unusable.
Traffic can consist of inbound messages, connection requests or fake packets. In some cases, victims are threatened with a DDoS attack or attacked at a low level . This attack can be combined with an extortion threat than a more devastating attack unless the company pays a ransom in cryptocurrency . In 2015 and 2016, a criminal group called the Armada Collective repeatedly extorted money from banks, web host providers and other companies using this method.
How Do DDoS Attacks Work?
The theory behind a DDoS attack is simple: flood a server with requests so that it reaches the limit that available resources allow. If the attack is successful, your server, service, website or network is rendered inoperable.
The primary way a DDoS is accomplished is through a network of remotely controlled, hacked or bot computers . These are often called “zombie computers”, we have also seen them in the techniques of Zombie Phishing . These zombies , organized in networks called botnets , are used to flood websites, servers and networks with more data than they can accommodate.
Botnets can send more connection requests than a server can handle or send huge amounts of data that exceed the bandwidth capabilities of the targeted victim. Botnets can range from thousands to millions of computers controlled by cybercriminals. Your computer could be part of a botnet without you knowing.
What are the symptoms of an attack?
DDoS attacks have distinctive symptoms . The problem is that the symptoms are so similar to other problems you may have with your computer that it can be difficult to understand without a professional diagnosis. Symptoms of a DDoS include:
- – Slow file access, both locally and remotely
- – Inability to access a particular website
- – Logout from the Internet
- – Problems accessing all websites
- – Excessive amount of email spam
Most of these symptoms can be difficult to label as unusual . However, if two or more occur over long periods of time, you could be the victim of a DDoS and check them out.
Phenomenology of a DDoS Ransomware Attack
A DDoS ransomware attack is like pointing a gun at someone and asking them for their wallet. It is not known if the gun is real (or loaded), but to avoid an unpleasant misunderstanding, the money is handed over.
In these attacks, in fact, the hackers threaten to carry out the attack, but have not yet performed any. In some cases they launch a minor attack as a demonstration action.
The attack covered in the Cloudflare article started like many other attacks, with ransom emails sent to employees of the organization. These emails contained a note that read:
Please do a Google search of “Lazarus Group” to take a look at some of our previous work. Also, search for “NZX” or “New Zealand Stock Exchange” in the news. You don’t want to be like them, do you?
The current price is 20 Bitcoin (BTC). It’s a small price to pay for what will happen if your entire network goes down. Is it worth it? You decide!…
If you decide not to pay, we will start the attack on the indicated date and will keep it until you do. We will completely destroy your reputation and make sure that your services remain offline until you pay… “.
The attackers then began sending a large amount of traffic to one of the company’s global data centers , firing gigabits of data per second to a single server. This led to a DDoS event and generated a series of unpleasant inconveniences.
Next, the criminals launched an attack at the end of a working day that was difficult to mitigate due to the fact that the organization was still using services to mitigate previous attacks.
Mitigating DDoS attacks can be quite difficult when an attack is already underway, which is why companies should consider using dedicated and proactive DDoS protection .
We will likely see an increase in similar attacks this year , so now is the time to take the necessary precautions or risk having the company’s website taken down or worse, having to pay a ransom in order to continue with the services offered.
The SOD proposal for companies
Due to the possibility that these DDoS Ransomware attacks become more and more frequent, we think we are a good time to evaluate one of our services in this regard.
CDN against DDoS ransomware attacks
One way to mitigate attacks is by using CDN ( Content Delivery Network ) services such as Cloudflare . These services distribute a static copy of the site on their servers around the world. When the site is requested by a client, the request is processed by the closest CDN server, reducing the loading time.
The use of this type of service filters access to the company site by distributing traffic to other servers that keep a copy of the site.
In this way, not only is the site loaded via the CDN server closest to the user, reducing the loading time, but the traffic is distributed territorially and what actually reaches the server is a fraction of the real one .
For our customers who use different services, it is necessary to design an ad-hoc solution. Contact us to find out more.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
ransomware gangs have been targeting businesses in recent times, demanding larger payments than they can extort from consumers. The plan was very successful. According to the new data, 70% of the attacked companies paid the ransom to get their data back. Avoiding ransomware is a necessity, these figures implicitly prove it. If such a large number of companies pay, it is because the risk is too great in terms of reputation and collateral economic losses.
Researchers from IBM Security’s X-Force interviewed executives of 600 companies of all sizes and found that organizations affected by ransomware choose to pay in most cases.
Data shows that 20% of compromised organizations paid ransoms of more than $ 40,000 and 25% paid between $ 20,000 and $ 40,000. These numbers are much higher than that. that consumers typically pay, which is usually around $ 500-1,000, depending on the variant of the ransomware.
When targeting businesses, hacking groups aim to paralyze organizations by encrypting financial data , customer databases, sales data and other vital information .
Avoid ransomware – the risks of attacks
In the past year, a number of organizations have been hit by severe ransomware attacks, including hospitals, universities and others. For example, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority was hit by a ransomware attack during the weekend of Thanksgiving, a very important holiday in the US. The attack paralyzed desktops within the agency and forcing officials to shut down the automatic ticket machines. Needless to say, this attack resulted in a huge loss of assets and a ransom demand.
Getting malware into public organizations isn’t as difficult as you might think, and is often done with a single email .
In their attacks on networks, cybercriminals seek out the servers that keep the business running and encrypt critical assets rather than working on enterprise-wide endpoints.
The access point is usually a phishing email with a malicious attachment, sent to the mailbox of a employee . In most cases, the attachment is a Microsoft Office document asking the victim to enable macros . Clicking the macro enable button is often a trivial matter for those uninformed users who just want to get rid of the warning at the top of the document . The malware runs as soon as the user allows the macros to run. The ransomware can also arrive through any other attachment or through exploit kits which facilitate infection without any special action on your part.
The amount of money businesses have paid to get their data back shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the alternative. As is increasingly the case, the attack doesn’t just put key the data until payment of the requested amount. The threat continues with the release of data if you do not agree to pay a second ransom. In the end two ransoms will be paid and in any case there is no certainty that the data will not be disclosed. (It is said double extortion attack).
Many organizations keep these attacks under wraps to avoid public humiliation and loss of customer confidence . Data from the IBM survey shows that 29% of executives in large corporations would pay more than $ 50,000 to retrieve financial data.
Law enforcement, including the FBI, and security experts advise ransomware victims not to pay, for a variety of reasons. First, there is no guarantee for the attacker to deliver the decryption key. Second, the ransomware’s profits help fund other cybercrime operations.
How to defend yourself to avoid ransomware
Phishing remains one of the key methods by which a ransomware attack is attempted. With the recent increase in remote working, it is imperative to reiterate the importance of being careful when opening emails and attachments . If employees are suspicious of something, they should report it.
Organizations should also make sure they have a good patching strategy and apply the latest security updates . This prevents cybercriminals from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities to distribute malware.
Regularly updating backups should be a priority , because if the worst happens and your organization falls victim to a ransomware attack, your network can be restored without paying the ransom.
SOD provides solutions for the situations listed through the SOCaaS service. You can ensure the protection of a Security Operation Center without having to invest in its initial funding .
The system controls the actions of the computers connected to the network using an artificial intelligence. As soon as a suspicious, even legitimate, action is detected, the technicians are alerted who can investigate the nature of the fact . The new generation SIEM systems and behavioral analysis via UEBA , work together to offer 360 ° security.
SOD also provides intelligent anti-ransomware backup systems via Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud . With this tool at your side, business and customer data are safe. Any attack attempt is identified and mitigated immediately, meanwhile, thanks to dynamic backups, the data is immediately restored .
Avoiding ransomware can be relatively easy – just pay attention to every operation you perform on your computers. Unfortunately, sometimes this is not enough. This is the time when having invested in a quality safety system will make a difference.
For questions or requests do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer your questions and propose a solution tailored to your needs.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Looking to up the ante and earn more money with the ransomware , i Cybercriminals are increasingly using a tactic known as double extortion ransomware . Not only do they encrypt data and demand a ransom from the victim to regain access. They also threaten to upload them online if their conditions are not met.
Let’s take a step back, ransomware is one of the most common types of malware. It targets a company every 14 seconds and it cost $ 11.5 billion in 2019 alone . Typically, hackers who carry out these attacks break into a system to steal data and delete it if the victim doesn’t pay a ransom.
Why do hackers prefer double-extortion ransomware?
The rise of double extortion ransomware proves that cybercriminals are constantly expanding their arsenal. Paolo Passeri, director of cyber intelligence at the software firm Netskope , says these attacks they have become popular because they are the easiest way for hackers to make money.
Passeri Says: “With double extortion ransomware attacks, even if a backup is available, attackers can put more pressure on the victim to pay the ransom . The increased pressure comes from the potentially serious consequences of a data leak, for example economic and reputational damage. Groups like REvil are even more creative: they don’t just leak data, they monetize it by auctioning it on the dark web and putting even more pressure on their victims. “
When conducting a double extortion ransomware attack, hackers start spending more time on the overall strategy . Sparrows warns that scammers are no longer taking an opportunistic approach. Instead, they are carefully selecting their target and method of attack to increase the ransom money they make . He explains: “ the threat actors select their victims, choosing organizations whose businesses could be affected by a data leak “.
The spear phishing is the primary means of distributing double extortion ransomware, but cybercriminals are also by exploiting vulnerabilities in on-premises devices such as VPN concentrators. “In the past few months, nearly all major VPN technologies have suffered severe vulnerabilities that have been exploited for similar attacks,” says Passeri.
“This is unfortunate given the current situation with forced telework where these remote access technologies play a crucial role in ensuring business continuity during Covid-19. These systems are directly exposed to the Internet, so threat actors can scan them and then exploit any vulnerabilities discovered “.
Risks of Doxing : diffusion of private data
Double extortion ransomware provides more opportunities for cybercriminals, allowing them to extort victims twice. They can ask for a first payment to decrypt the files and a second payment not to make them public.
This technique, also known as doxing , is been used by an increasing number of ransomware groups over the past year. The consequences of doxing are more severe for the victim, so they often come down to demands. This means more money in the pockets of cybercriminals to fund new strains of ransomware and support other criminal activities.
Improvements in malware and financial incentives for hackers have led to the growth of double extortion ransomware attacks. In the past, ransomware encrypted files and hackers stole data, but it was rare to do both.
We now have bots that can scan the web for unprotected data, steal it, encrypt it or delete it, and leave a ransom note for the owner, all in one automated attack. The hacker can then collect a ransom for the data and sell the data to other criminals, playing double-crosses with minimal effort .
There has been an influx of double extortion ransomware attacks in the past year. Hackers gained traction in late 2019 when high-profile groups like Maze began exploiting aggressively this tactic.
In these particularly aggressive cases, the hacker would extract a copy of the data before encrypting it . This way the attacker not only prevents the victim from accessing her data, but also keeps a copy of the data for himself.
To claim responsibility and put pressure on the victim during the negotiation process, the attacker often released small chunks of data online. If the deals are blocked or failed, the attacker publishes all the stolen data or sells it to third parties . This creates a significant violation against the victim.
What to do
To defend against these attacks, there are several steps companies should take . For example, keeping systems updated to ensure that known vulnerabilities are resolved. It is also imperative that organizations have a layered security approach that includes the use of data loss prevention tools . An example is the service offered by SOD Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud . The system can stop the extraction or encryption of the data which initiates these double extortion attacks.
But what can organizations do if they can’t successfully mitigate one of these attacks?
Organizations should try to include a last line of defense that isolates and stops illegitimate encryption immediately . This mitigates the risk when traditional prevention-based security has been compromised or bypassed. Robust backup processes, including air-gap backups, should also be considered to make it more difficult for criminals to encrypt or disable critical data stores.
If an organization falls victim to a double extortion ransomware attack, there are often dire consequences. Criminal groups are increasingly blatant, even dystopian names like Maze, Netwalker and REvil, are an indication of this inclination. Their pride leads them to display exfiltrated data as online trophies and even sponsor clandestine hacking contests to display their malware. In a kind of cyber show-off . < / p>
For the victims, the consequences can be devastating. Travelex, a currency exchange service, went into receivership with the loss of 1,300 jobs in the UK following a ransomware attack . During the heist, the cyber gang REvil asked the company to pay $ 6 million in 48 hours. The company has faced the threat of publishing credit card information, national insurance numbers and birth dates of its customers.
It is clearly critical that companies do everything they can to identify and stop these attacks before they cause more damage. Preventing these attacks proactively is much better than mitigating their effects, with all the financial costs and reputational damage they entail .
Most attackers gain access through human error . For this, together with technical measures such as internal data access management and back-up, staff training and supervision are key elements in an organization’s defenses .
Victims essentially have two choices, both of which are costly: if they refuse to pay, they face a catastrophic data breach with exposure to painful regulatory fines and civil demands; if they pay the ransom, they still have no guarantee that the data will be returned.
Handle double-extortion ransomware
While getting hit by ransomware can deal a severe blow to any business, companies should be cautious when asked to pay a ransom. Doing so could involve even greater risks . There is no certainty that these hackers will not ask for more money without releasing the data anyway.
It is important for companies to secure their networks and conduct mock test < / a> to mitigate the ransomware threat . Such simulated attacks will help spot vulnerabilities within the organization without the risk of facing serious financial problems and having to answer very difficult questions from customers.
Implementing strong resilience measures is the best way to prevent double extortion ransomware. Ransomware is often a secondary infection. Threat actors seek to exploit known vulnerabilities, particularly in relation to remote access protocols and applications that are critical for working from home.
Critical to mitigating this is ensuring that vulnerabilities are patched in a timely manner and that network data logs are monitored for any unusual activity or data exfiltration. < / strong> There is therefore a potential window of opportunity to remedy any primary infection (which precedes the ransomware) and thus prevent the ransom note process from developing.
Organizations need to educate staff about the risks of double extortion ransomware and how it is executed . Individual users can also be of great help by being aware of the potential of unsafe attachments. They should also be cautious about clicking any email links received in any communication , particularly with the recent resurgence of Emotet , a known malware.
There are two defense strategies for dealing with double extortion ransomware. First, robust backups, to make sure you don’t your hands tied if hackers gain control of your data. Then, encryption, to make sure that if an attacker threatens to expose your data, it’s protected too.
These approaches should then be incorporated into a broader strategy: careful monitoring of the network that could allow attackers to be cut off, and promoting employee IT education not to fall victim to phishing attacks which are often the main cause of a ransomware incident.
The threat of double extortion ransomware is undeniable, with cybercriminals carefully targeting and creating these attacks in an attempt to increase the size of ransom.
Organizations often feel they have no choice but to pay the ransom to avoid the leak of sensitive data. But it’s actually a Russian roulette game and the stolen information can still find its way online. Therefore the focus must be on prevention and risk mitigation .
WastedLocker is ransomware attack software that began targeting businesses and other organizations in May 2020. It is known for its high ransom demands reaching millions of dollars per victim. It is the product of a group of highly skilled cyber criminals who have been operating for over a decade: Evil Corp.
Who is behind WastedLocker Ransomware
The group behind WastedLocker goes by the name of Evil Corp and some of the individuals associated with it have a long history in the world of cybercrime. The group is best known for managing the Dridex malware and botnet since 2011, but has also been responsible for creating ransomware programs over the years.
Through various episodes of criminal attacks, the group has been developing malware targeting mainly US companies since 2011. For this reason they have been known to the police for some time. After a period of inactivity, the group reappeared in January 2020 and their activity resumed as usual, with victims appearing in the same regions as before.
WastedLocker is a completely new program from Evil Corp that began infecting organizations in May 2020. It does not share the code with BitPaymer (a previously used software) but shows other similarities in the ransom note and per-victim customization. Evil Corp’s lack of activity between March and May could be explained by the group that was working on developing this new cyber threat as well as other tools that make up its toolset.
How does it work
The SocGholish framework is distributed as a ZIP file. Once opened and executed, it initiates a chain of attacks that involves downloading and running PowerShell scripts and the Cobalt Strike backdoor. Evil Corp has used this same distribution technique in the past to distribute the Dridex Trojan, so it has been part of its arsenal for a long time.
Once hackers gain access to a computer, they begin distributing various tools to steal user credentials. In addition, they can also increase privileges and perform a lateral movement to other machines. The attackers’ goal is to identify and gain access to high-value systems such as servers. They then implement an ad hoc binary file on the compromised machines for the victims.
The use of manual hacking and system administration tools are part of a trend observed in recent years. According to this trend, cybercriminals are increasingly adopting attack techniques that in the past were associated with cyber espionage. This trend poses a serious problem for smaller organizations that lack the budget and IT resources to deploy defenses against advanced threats, but are a frequent target for ransomware groups and other financially motivated cybercriminals.
WestedLocker in detail
WastedLocker uses a combination of AES and RSA encryption in its encryption routine which is similar to other ransomware programs. Each file is encrypted with a unique 256-bit AES key generated on-the-fly. These AES keys along with other information about the encrypted files are then encrypted with a 4096-bit public RSA key which is encoded in the WastedLocker binary. Attackers keep the private part of the RSA key pair needed to retrieve AES keys and decrypt individual files.
According to an analysis by Kaspersky Lab, the encryption routine is strong and correctly implemented. So the victims cannot recover their files without the attacker’s private RSA key. Because it is a manually distributed ransomware threat customized to each target, attackers generate unique RSA key pairs for each victim. I mean, the key received from one organization after paying the ransom will not work to decrypt the files of another affected organization.
Some distinctive aspects of WastedLocker
The WastedLocker ransomware has a mechanism that allows attackers to prioritize certain directories during the encryption routine. This is probably used to ensure that the most important and valuable files are encrypted first in case the encryption process is detected by the system administrators and stopped while it is in progress.
The malware appends an extension to files consisting of the victim’s name and the word “wasted”. Also, it generates a text file with the ransom note for each file, which means that each directory will contain hundreds or thousands of copies of the ransom note.
WastedLocker is designed to delete shadow copies (the default backups made by the Windows operating system) and tries to encrypt files on the network, including remote backups.
After the July 2020 attacks
The Securonix Threat Research Team (STR) is actively investigating the details of Wastedlocker ransomware critical attacks. These have reportedly already affected more than 31 companies, of which 8 are Fortune 500 companies.
Here are the key details regarding the impact of WastedLocker ransomware attacks:
– WastedLocker ransomware is relatively new, used by EvilCorp, which previously used the Dridex trojan to distribute BitPaymer ransomware in attacks against government organizations and businesses in the US and Europe.
– Evil Corp group is currently focusing on targeted attacks on multiple industry casualties in recent months. Garmin is one of the latest high profile victims attacked (officially confirmed by Garmin on July 27).
– The most recent ransom amount requested was $10 million and appears to be based on the victim’s financial data. Based on the available details, the ransom has probably been paid.
– To date, a mono-extortion scheme appears to have been used, ie with only encryption and no or minimal data loss.
How to defend yourself
Following the analysis of the attacks and the data available, we want to suggest methods of mitigation and prevention of attacks.
– Review the backup retention policies. Make sure these are stored in a location that cannot be accessed / encrypted by the operator who placed the targeted ransomware. For example, consider write-only remote backup.
– Implement a training program on the safety of end users (company employees). Since end users are the targets of ransomware, it is best that they are aware of the current risks. It is important that they are aware of the threat of ransomware and how it occurs.
– Patches of infrastructure operating systems, software and firmware. Consider the possibility of leveraging a centralized patch management system.
– Maintain regular, air-gaped backups of critical company / infrastructure data. An air-gaped backup and recovery strategy means making sure that at least one copy of your organization’s data is offline and not accessible from any network.
– Implement security monitoring, particularly for high-value targets, to detect in advance any malicious ransomware operator positioning activity.
As always, we at SOD are available for advice and to suggest you which services you can implement for the safety of your company. Contact us to find out how we can help you keep your business defenses high.
There have been critical cases of ransomware of note lately. Tor Vergata University suffered an attack that knocked out about a hundred computers. Access to the systems by teachers and students has been blocked. The attack affected a number of documents related to COVID-19 research that were encrypted and then made inaccessible. In addition, two other noteworthy cases shook hospitals in September. The first took place in Germany, in Düsseldorf, where a woman lost her life following an attack that also blocked the machinery that kept her alive. The second happened in the USA and involved UHS (Universal Health Services). In that case, patient care was kept secure, but the IT applications were out of order.
For the uninitiated, ransomware-type attacks happen this way: attackers take possession of the data on a computer and remove or encrypt it. They ultimately render them unusable and require the victim to pay a ransom to free up the data again.
The costs of an attack
According to the Cost of a Data Breach report, a critical ransomware attack can cost an average of $ 4.44M. It is an impressive figure that should make us reflect on the value of data managed by companies and on their protection.
Let’s see in detail some attacks and what consequences they had.
A fatal ransomware
For the first time, a woman dies after a cyber attack on a hospital. On September 9, 2020, a critical ransomware attack, launched at a hospital in Düsseldorf, caused the vital systems to which the patient was connected to no longer function properly. The victim had to be transferred to another hospital as quickly as possible. For more than 30 kilometers, the paramedics fought for the victim’s life, but ultimately without success. Many questions remain pending regarding this case, first of all why the machines that kept the woman alive were connected to a hackable network. The investigations continue, however, showing how the network must be protected for the physical safety of users, to avoid tragic consequences.
An attack on research
The access of students and teachers was blocked at the University of Tor Vergata with a critical ransomware attack that made documents concerning the research on COVID-19 inaccessible. The attackers managed to break into systems within hours and encrypt files on hard drives. A month later, no ransom had yet been requested.
Such an attack could slow down the search, hampering the process. Even if no ransom was required, the damage would still be tangible.
Attack on UHS
Fortunately, it finished better than the attack in Düsseldorf, another episode hit areas close to health. Facilities using Universal Health Services (UHS) systems have seen access to the system freeze due to an attack. Fortunately, there were no casualties and patient care was guaranteed all the time, as stated by UHS itself.
Other critical ransomware attacks
Critical ransomware attacks happen all the time and can have non-immediate implications. For example, Fragomen, a New York law firm, suffered an attack and a consequent data breach involving the personal data of some Google employees.
Another attack hit Enel, which was asked for a ransom of € 14M in bitcoin. The attack refers to the download of private data, contacts, databases, financial and customer documents for a total of 4.5 TB. Enel did not provide any press release regarding the attack.
Run for cover
Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are among the most subtle and annoying, because they also leverage a psychological factor of the victim who sees a way out (payment) and tries to cover what happened in order not to lose reputation.Unfortunately, following a successful attack, the data is still breached and security has proved ineffective.
So how do you make sure these attacks are neutralized? Adequate security measures must be implemented to prevent attacks as much as possible and provide a quick response in critical situations.
Services such as those offered in partnership with Acronis and SOD’s SOCaaS are essential tools for defending your data and corporate network. The first proposed service secures data through backups and monitors file changes. As soon as an encryption attempt is detected, the data is locked and secured to avoid the worst. In the unfortunate event that the attack is successful, backups reduce the severity of the consequences and prevent actual data loss.
SOC as a Service is an all-round solution that monitors all the IT infrastructure referred to. The defense is not specific to a type of attack, but instead focuses on detecting anomalies, even in user behavior, which can indicate ongoing attacks of all kinds.
Finally, to verify that your system is protected, it is possible to request preventive services such as Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test. These test the infrastructures with controlled attacks in order to stimulate the security response and identify the areas that need to be reinforced. We recommend implementing this type of service regularly throughout the year as a preventative measure.
If you have any questions about the services or want to talk to us about your situation to request an intervention, do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer your questions.
The ransomware (or cyber extortion) threat is on the rise. In 2020, there was a spike in the number of reported incidents and the number of hackers attempting to extort money from organizations. It is important that every organization does all it can to combat these criminals and being informed is a key element. In this article we see the most dangerous ransomware of 2020.
2020 is drawing to a close and perhaps it is not surprising, given the world situation, that there has been a significant spike in ransomware attacks, especially in the first quarter. In that period, according to some sources, it peaked at 25% compared to the previous quarter.
The most dangerous ransomware
According to an FBI consultant for the private sector, “Unknown cyber actors have targeted several US and international companies with the Maze ransomware since early 2019. Maze encrypts data on an infected computer’s file system and its shares of network file. Once the victim has been compromised, but before the encryption event, the actors extract the data. “
“After the encryption event, the cybercriminals demand a specific ransom for the victim paid in Bitcoin (BTC) to obtain the decryption key. An international Maze campaign targeted the healthcare sector while its deployment in the United States it was more varied “.
The FBI first observed Maze ransomware activity against US victims in November 2019. Since its initial observation, Maze has used several methods for intrusion, including creating cryptocurrency-looking sites. malicious and malspam campaigns impersonating government agencies and well-known security providers. It is certainly among the most dangerous and insidious ransomware and has done a lot of damage in the last year.
You may have heard of REvil Ransomware due to a recent breach by media and entertainment lawyers Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks. They confirmed the news that their studio was the victim of a ransomware attack. The attack took place in early 2020.
Several prominent celebrities, clients of the law firm, have potentially suffered a data leak. Madonna’s tour contract has allegedly been leaked.
The attackers doubled the ransom note to $42 million and threatened to release malicious information about President Trump.
SNAKE (EKANS) Ransomware
Ekans Ransomware is a variant of the malware that infects industrial control systems to interrupt operations until a ransom is paid. Security analysts say Ekans is a spin-off of Snake Ransomware and that it has so far infected factories related to the automotive and electronics sectors, particularly Honda.
Hackers reportedly targeted Honda servers with a variant of file encryption malware called Ekans, forcing company authorities to send manufacturing unit workers home when automated devices were installed they have become inoperative.
While Honda has never admitted that its servers were down due to a cyber attack, it has admitted that its IT infrastructure was down for some reason.
This ransomware is particularly dangerous for companies that may have to stop production due to the attack.
Trickbot Ransomware – the danger in a petition
A phishing email campaign asking you to vote anonymously on the Black Lives Matter campaign is spreading information-stealing TrickBot malware. Born as a banking Trojan, the TrickBot has evolved to perform a variety of malicious behaviors.
This behavior includes side spreading across a network, theft of credentials saved in browsers, theft of Active Directory Services databases, theft of OpenSSH cookies and keys, theft of RDP, VNC and PuTTY Credentials, and more. TrickBot also works with ransomware operators, such as Ryuk, to give access to a compromised network to distribute the ransomware.
Mailto (known as Netwalker Ransomware)
NetWalker hit the scene in mid-2009. Similar to other well-supported ransomware families, operators target global high-value entities. The group’s objectives span several industries and also encompass the education, medical and government sectors.
NetWalker collects data from its targets and is used by operators as leverage through threats to publish or release data in case the victim fails to meet their demands. To date, the stolen data belonging to twelve different NetWalker victims has been publicly disclosed. The attackers behind NetWalker campaigns are known to use common utilities, post-exploitation toolkits, and Living-off-the-Land (LOTL) tactics to explore a compromised environment and steal as much data as possible. These tools can include mimikatz (and their variants), various PSTools, AnyDesk, TeamViewer, NLBrute, and more.
In recent months, NetWalker has seen the transition to a RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) delivery model, which will potentially open the platform to a growing number of enterprising criminals. More recently, we have seen NetWalker spam campaigns using COVID-19-related bait to lure victims into initiating the infection.
Ransomware are particularly subtle and dangerous attacks, which not only aim to collect data, but leverage the dynamics of a ransom.
SOD, through the Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud service, can defend data from this type of attack. Protection takes place by analyzing user behavior and identifying suspicious transactions. The intervention in case of attack is immediate and allows to recover, in most cases, the attacked data.
Thanks to a backup system, blocking the data encryption action and behavior analysis, Acronis Cyber Protect is an excellent service against the most dangerous ransomware attacks, capable of detecting suspicious behaviors before they become really dangerous for data.
Acronis Active Protection is an advanced anti-ransomware technology. It actively protects all the data on your systems: documents, data of all kinds and Acronis backup files. It is a technology available for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems and protects against the latest ransomware actions such as Petya, WannaCry, Locky and Osiris.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a particularly painful type of malware. Malware is “hostile or intrusive software” illegally introduced into your system for malicious reasons. When ransomware infects the system, it blocks access to data. Whoever introduced the malware will then make a cash request to unlock the data. In short, the mechanism is that of redemption.
To defend against this type of attack, it is necessary to constantly monitor the activities that take place in the system.
Find the patterns
Acronis Active Protection constantly observes the patterns in how files and data are changed. A set of behaviors can be typical and expected. Another may report a suspicious process that aims to initiate hostile actions against the data.
Acronis’ approach is as follows: examine these actions and compare them with patterns of malicious behavior. This approach can be exceptionally powerful in identifying ransomware attacks, even from variants that have not yet been reported. The latest version of Acronis Active Protection adds additional behavioral patterns to improve ransomware detection.
Acronis has invested heavily in a new dedicated machine learning infrastructure used for telemetry and data processing. The first step in the process is a stack trace analysis. It is possible to detect malicious code by using the stack trace analysis of a process based on the machine learning approach.
The data to be studied and analyzed are the stack trace dumps / frames which are sent as input to the Acronis Machine Learning module. The output of the analysis will be the verdict: clean or infected data. This approach takes active protection to a new level, especially when it comes to threats never used before (called Zero Day).
The system does not require signatures of any kind, but rather creates a model of what is acceptable and what is not. In this way, when hackers will find a new vulnerability or a new approach to infiltrate the system, they will hardly be able to pass this behavior check made thanks to the models applied by Acronis.
Defense against advanced threats
Acronis Active Protection can detect very sophisticated ransomware threats that usually appear as legitimate operations. The detection of attacks takes place thanks to the application of advanced heuristics and machine learning, but not only.
In fact, special mathematical approaches are also adopted to calculate the entropy of the files, in order to understand if the file has been modified even if the header remains the same. Many anti-ransomware solutions, on the other hand, only act based on file headers.
One way that criminals could choose to compromise files would be to attack the backup software itself to corrupt the backup files it creates. To protect against this, Acronis has implemented a robust self-defense mechanism that will not allow criminals to interrupt the work of the Acronis application or the contents of the backup files. In addition, Acronis Active Protection checks the Master Boot Record of Windows-based computers. Hence, it will not allow illegitimate changes to be made to prevent the computer from starting.
How it intervenes
If the ransomware attack starts encrypting files, Acronis quickly detects and stops this process. Since Acronis is a backup solution, any data that was exposed and encrypted before the process was stopped can be recovered from a variety of sources. This is remarkable, considering that not only can anti-ransomware solutions commonly fail to terminate an attack once it has begun, they also have no way of recovering files encrypted by the attack.
Acronis Active Protection detects and deflects attacks and restores files of any size.
The methodologies detect and deflect attacks and advanced file recovery. These protection approaches are not only leading the way against criminals, but they are more innovative and advanced than any other anti-ransomware methodology available.
The Acronis solution is able to identify:
– Hackers trying to infect or compromise local or cloud backups
– Reduced attacks and usually more difficult to detect (for example, changing only a small portion of a document or a photo stored deep in the hard disk)
– Attackers who come up with creative new ways to attempt maliciously manipulating files
The application of artificial intelligence in the field of cyber security has made giant strides in defense possible and is making life extremely complicated for hackers. The search for innovative solutions is now oriented towards the implementation of machine learning to try to capture malicious behavior rather than the attacks themselves. Acronis Active Protection does this and does it effectively, offering complete and efficient protection from ransomware attacks.
The threats do not end once the security of your systems and perimeter has been verified, you must adopt constant defense and verification solutions to ensure your data in the best possible way.
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