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  1. GandCrab Ransomware Discovered To Be Embedded in Super Mario Image Researchers spotted the ransomware GandCrab embedded into a downloadable Mario image from Super Mario Bros. Matthew Rowan, a researcher at Bromium discovered the malware and identified the trends and patterns to be of an older method, steganography. This form of malware tends to use obfuscated Microsoft PowerShell commands. Similarly, the hacker uses a PowerShell command in this campaign. The targeted emails are sent to individuals in Italy, with an excel document attached. Labelled, “F.DOC.2019 A 259 SPA.xls” it also contains a Macro. The document prompts users to click ‘enable content,’ effectively deploying the malware. The malware firstly checks the region, usually, relying on the administrative language of the operating system. Here the coding used to determine this consisted of using IF statement with country 39, which was Italy. If the device is not based in Italy, then it will not deploy. If the user is based in Italy, the malware deploys behind an image of Mario by extracting various pixels, eventually executing the PowerShell command. A GandCrab ransom note then warns of corruption to files if not adhered to. It requires users to download and access the hacker via the dark web, gandcrabmfe6mnef, to retrieve their files, databases and photos. The Ransomware’s pattern Steganographic attacks are slowly coming back in trend as a tactic to avoid detection by security programmes. This is as its harder for firewalls, for example, to pick up the threat, allowing it to continue deploying undetected. GandCrab malware, on the other hand, rose rapidly in use last year, especially within the banking field. In the same week, the deployment of two different forms of GandCrab took place. The second instance used a .js file inside a zip, password protected as the initial vector. Users were required to enter the password, “invoice123.” To read more on recent attacks of this sort, check out, “Malware Distribution sites taken down across the world.” The researchers were unable to identify where the malware originated from. Source
  2. Hackers are scanning for MySQL servers to deploy GandCrab ransomware Serendipitous discovery unearths new threat for MySQL server owners. At least one Chinese hacking crew is currently scanning the internet for Windows servers that are running MySQL databases so they can infect these systems with the GandCrab ransomware. These attacks are somewhat unique, as cyber-security firms have not seen any threat actor until now that has attacked MySQL servers running on Windows systems to infect them with ransomware. Andrew Brandt, Principal Researcher at Sophos, and the one who spotted these new attacks in a honeypot's logs described them as "a serendipitous discovery" in an email to ZDNet. The researcher published today a blog post on the Sophos website detailing this new scanning activity and its payload. ATTACKERS TARGET RARE, BUT JUICY, EXPOSED MYSQL DBS Brandt said hackers would scan for internet-accessible MySQL databases that would accept SQL commands, check if the underlying server would run on Windows, and then use malicious SQL commands to plant a file on the exposed servers, which they'd later execute, infecting the host with the GandCrab ransomware. While most system administrators typically protect their MySQL servers with passwords, the purpose of these scans appeared to be the opportunistic exploitation of misconfigured or passwordless databases. According to Brandt, the hackers appeared to have been quite prodigious, while not entirely clear if they were successful. The Sophos researcher tracked these attacks back to a remote server, which had an open directory running server software called HFS, which exposed download stats for the attacker's malicious payloads. Image: Sophos Labs "The server appears to indicate more than 500 downloads of the sample I saw the MySQL honeypot download (3306-1.exe). However, the samples named 3306-2.exe, 3306-3.exe, and 3306-4.exe are identical to that file," Brandt said. "Counted together, there has been nearly 800 downloads in the five days since they were placed on this server, as well as more than 2300 downloads of the other (about a week older) GandCrab sample in the open directory. "So while this isn't an especially massive or widespread attack, it does pose a serious risk to MySQL server admins who have poked a hole through the firewall for port 3306 on their database server to be reachable by the outside world," he said. As Brandt points out, these types of attacks are very rare. Hacker groups usually scan for database servers to infiltrate companies and to steal their data or intellectual property, or to plant crypto-mining malware [1, 2]. Instances where a hacker group deploys ransomware are rare. Source
  3. GandCrab ransomware operation says it's shutting down GandCrab crew says it made enough money and plans to retire within a month. The creators of the GandCrab ransomware announced yesterday they were shutting down their Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) operation, ZDNet has learned. The GandCrab RaaS is an online portal where crooks sign up and pay to get access to custom builds of the GandCrab ransomware, which they later distribute via email spam, exploit kits, or other means. When an infected user pays a ransom demand, the original GandCrab author earns a small commission, while the rest of the money goes to the crook who distributed the ransomware. RETIREMENT PLANS Yesterday night, a source in the malware community has told ZDNet that the GandCrab RaaS operator formally announced plans to shut down their service within a month. The announcement was made in an official thread on a well-known hacking forum, where the GandCrab RaaS has advertised its service since January 2018, when it formally launched. In the forum message, the GandCrab authors bragged about the ransomware having earned over $2 billion in ransom payments, with the operators making roughly $2.5 million per week and $150 million per year. It goes without saying that these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. "We successfully cashed this money and legalized it in various spheres of white business both in real life and on the Internet," the GandCrab crew bragged. "We are leaving for a well-deserved retirement," they said. "We have proved that by doing evil deeds, retribution does not come." Our source tells ZDNet that this was the last step in a process that started earlier this week when the GandCrab crew announced RaaS customers via private emails about plans to shut down the service. Renters of the GandCrab ransomware were told to wind down operations and cash out within the next month. PLANS TO DELETE DECRYPTION KEYS The forum thread also leaves an ominous message for GandCrab victims, as the GandCrab RaaS operators said they were planning to delete all decryption keys, making file recovery for infected victims impossible. Some of the security researchers we approached have told ZDNet this could be a ploy to make victims panic and pay the ransom demand. However, they shifted their views when they learned that GandCrab RaaS customers were also told to wind down operations. In the past, when ransomware operations have shut down, they usually tended to release all victim decryption keys for free so that users could recover their data. Something like this happened for victims of ransomware families such as TeslaCrypt, XData, Crysis, and FilesLocker. Even the GandCrab crew showed some compassion in the past by releasing free decryption keys for all users infected in war-torn Syria. GANDCRAB WAS ON THE DECLINE A chart shared with ZDNet by Michael Gillespie-- the creator of ID-Ransomware, a service that lets ransomware victims identify the type of ransomware that has infected their systems -- shows a steady decline in GandCrab activity this month. Image: Michael Gillespie The chart shows that GandCrab was losing customers even before the shutdown announcement. Over the past year, the GandCrab ransomware family has been one of the most active ransomware threats around. It was one of the few ransomware strains that were being mass-distributed via email spam and exploit kits, but also as part of targeted attacks against high-profile organizations (a tactic known as big-game hunting) at the same time. The ransomware has seen frequent updates and is currently at version 5.2, at the time of today's shutdown. Cyber-security firm Bitdefender released GandCrab decryptors on three occasions over the past year. These are apps that allow victims to recover encrypted files without paying the ransom. The last one was released in February this year and could decrypt GandCrab versions up to version 5.1 (with the exemption of v2 and v3). The GandCrab author also had a spat with South Korean security vendor AhnLab last summer after the security firm released a vaccine for the GandCrab ransomware. As retaliation, they included a zero-day for the AhnLab antivirus in the GandCrab code. Recently, Sophos Labs has observed criminal groups scanning the internet for open MySQL databases running on Windows systems, which they tried to infect with GandCrab. Probably the most high-profile attack that GandCrab was behind is a series of infections at customers of remote IT support firms in the month of February. If the GandCrab crew follows through on their plans and actually shuts down, their legacy remains as one of a ransomware strain that has dominated the ransomware landscape in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, when it was, by far, the most active strain on the market. Source
  4. GandCrab ransomware distributor arrested in South Korea South Korean national police have announced today the arrest of a 20-year-old suspect on charges of distributing and infecting victims with the GandCrab ransomware. The suspect, whose name was not released, operated as a customer of the GandCrab Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) cybercrime operation. Known as an affiliate —or a distributor— police say the suspect operated by taking copies of the GandCrab ransomware and distributing them via email to victims across South Korea. Between February and June 2019, the suspect sent nearly 6,500 emails to South Koreans. The emails mimicked official communications from local police stations, the Constitutional Court, and the Bank of Korea. Phishing email sent in South Korea by a GandCrab affiliate However, when victims opened documents attached to emails they received, they infected themselves with the GandCrab ransomware, which then proceeded to encrypt their files and ask for a $1,300 payment in Bitcoin. South Korean national police say they tracked at least 120 users who fell victim to the suspect’s phishing campaigns. Despite the large number of victims, authorities said the suspect only made 12 million won, which stands to around $10,500, as he only received a 7% cut from the sum victims were paying on the GandCrab ransom portal. Suspect tracked via cryptocurrency transactions The suspect’s attacks stopped in June 2019 after the GandCrab group announced their retirement and moved on to create and run the REvil (Sodinokibi) RaaS instead, which focused on infecting companies rather than regular users. The South Korean individual marks the second GandCrab distributor arrested since the GandCrab shutdown. A 31-year-old suspect was previously arrested in Belarus in August 2020. South Korean national police said the recent arrest, which took place last month on February 25, was the result of an international investigation led by Interpol focused on tracking down the GandCrab gang and its network of distributors. Law enforcement agencies from ten countries are involved in the investigation. Authorities also said they tracked the suspect based on cryptocurrency transactions associated with the GandCrab operation, which led them to the suspect’s bank account, despite him using a cloak of servers and IP addresses to hide his real location. Source: GandCrab ransomware distributor arrested in South Korea
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