Here is just another week in ransomware 05-21-2024

Posted by:

Ransomware, Todd Laff, Todd Laff Chicago,

In a recent development, the U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) has pinpointed Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev, a 31-year-old Russian national, as the mastermind behind the notorious LockBit ransomware operation. Operating under aliases like LockBitSupp and putinkrab, Khoroshev now faces stringent international sanctions and travel bans imposed by the U.K., U.S., and Australia. The U.S. Department of State has even offered a substantial reward of up to $10 million for any information leading to his capture or conviction.

LockBit, functioning as a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) platform since 2019, is renowned for its adept evasion techniques and lightning-fast encryption capabilities. Despite facing a significant international crackdown dubbed Operation Cronos back in February 2024, which momentarily hindered its operations, LockBit swiftly bounced back, launching fresh assaults throughout the first quarter of 2024.

The group’s ingenuity shines through its continual innovations, exemplified by the release of LockBit 3.0 in mid-2022 and the introduction of the first-known macOS ransomware variant in April 2023. Recent advancements include a novel variant capable of mimicking system administrators and autonomously spreading across networks.

Exploiting vulnerabilities in remote desktop protocols (RDP) and leveraging network tools like Group Policy Objects and PsExec via the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, LockBit primarily infiltrates its targets. Additionally, the group capitalizes on the Citrix Bleed vulnerability (CVE 2023-4966). For data exfiltration, LockBit employs publicly available file-sharing services alongside a proprietary tool named Stealbit. Despite promoting its 3.0 platform, LockBit maintains operations for its 2.0 variant.

With an efficient affiliate program offering partners up to 75% of ransom proceeds, LockBit has demanded exorbitant ransoms, with figures reaching as high as $70 million, particularly targeting entities like the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Notable victims encompass major corporations and institutions such as Boeing, SpaceX, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, solidifying LockBit’s position as a persistent and evolving menace in the realm of cybersecurity.

Black Basta Alert: Upgraded Version Released

The Black Basta ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation has emerged as a significant cybersecurity threat, affecting over 500 organizations across North America, Europe, and Australia within various sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, and telecommunications. Employing common initial access strategies such as phishing and exploiting vulnerabilities, Black Basta adopts a double-extortion approach, encrypting victims’ data and issuing threats to leak it unless a ransom is paid.

Distinguished by its ransom notes lacking upfront demands, instead providing victims with a unique code to access the attackers via a secure .onion URL, Black Basta is speculated to have originated in early 2022, potentially evolving from former notorious groups like Conti and REvil. The group collaborates selectively with highly skilled affiliates to execute targeted attacks, showcasing advanced technical capabilities.

Capable of deploying ransomware affecting both Windows and Linux systems, Black Basta employs encryption techniques utilizing ChaCha20 and RSA-4096. Exploiting vulnerabilities in VMware ESXi and utilizing malware like Qakbot alongside methods such as PrintNightmare, Black Basta exploits insecure Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) setups as a common vector for its attacks.

Maintaining a leaked website to pressure non-compliant victims, Black Basta has garnered ransom demands of up to $2 million, amassing over $107 million in ransom payments from approximately 90 victims since its inception. High-profile targets include major entities like Coca-Cola, Southern Water, and ABB, solidifying Black Basta’s status as an adaptable and formidable threat in the cybersecurity domain.

Ransomware Targets Executive Families

Ransomware groups are escalating coercion tactics, transitioning from mere data theft to intricate psychological manipulations, targeting not only victims’ data but also their personal lives. This alarming trend, underscored by The Register and experts like Mandiant’s CTO, Charles Carmakal, introduces a new dimension to cyber extortion.

Employing tactics such as SIM swapping and caller ID spoofing to make threatening calls appear to originate from the personal phone numbers of executives’ family members, attackers add a deeply personal and distressing layer to their assaults. This strategy, constituting double extortion, sees attackers encrypting data and threatening to expose sensitive information if their demands are unmet.

Recent tactics witnessed include threats to expose compassionate personal data, such as medical records of breast cancer patients or mental health information of students, to exert pressure. More aggressive forms of harassment, like swatting—falsely reporting emergencies to provoke a heavy police response to a victim’s address—have also been documented.

These evolving strategies underscore the lack of ethical boundaries in these criminal enterprises, emphasizing their sole focus on profit. The ongoing challenge for organizations lies in enhancing cybersecurity defenses by investing in skills, technologies, and robust security frameworks to preemptively thwart such attacks.

Traditional security solutions like endpoint protection (EPP), endpoint detection and response (EDR), and extended detection and response (XDR) are being reassessed for their efficacy, often failing to detect ransomware in its critical stages. Experts advocate for dedicated anti-ransomware solutions to complement existing tools, aiming to halt ransomware before it inflicts irreparable harm through data exfiltration or system encryption.

The key to combating this threat lies in early detection, comprehensive mitigation strategies, and resilient data backup systems enabling organizations to recover without succumbing to extortion demands.


About the Author:

Online Security Expert Todd Laff reviews online hacks and security issues and how to protect yourself and secure your network.
  Related Posts