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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