The ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats continues to challenge individuals, organizations, and even governments. In July 2023, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a Private Industry Notification (PIN) that raised concerns about a new and worrisome trend in the world of ransomware attacks – dual ransomware attacks. In this blog post, we will explore this alarming development, understand its implications, and discuss the FBI's recommendations for better preparedness and defense against such threats.
Dual ransomware attacks involve threat actors targeting the same victims not once but twice, within close date proximity. In these attacks, cybercriminals deploy two different ransomware variants within a victim's network. This malicious tactic doubles the risk and harm faced by the targeted organization.
The FBI's notification highlighted several ransomware families that have been observed in dual ransomware attacks, including AvosLocker, Diamond, Hive, Karakurt, LockBit, Quantum, and Royal. These ransomware variants have been used to encrypt, exfiltrate, and financially exploit their victims, resulting in substantial data and financial losses.
The consequences of dual ransomware attacks are severe and multifaceted. The initial attack compromises the victim's systems and data. Subsequent attacks only exacerbate the situation, potentially causing irreparable damage to the targeted organization. The FBI rightly warns that a second ransomware attack against an already compromised system could significantly harm victim entities.
In addition to dual attacks, the FBI also highlighted the emergence of new data destruction tactics in ransomware attacks. Threat actors are increasingly using custom data theft tools, wiper tools, and malware to apply pressure on their victims and compel them to negotiate. Some ransomware groups have even added their own code to known data theft tools to avoid detection. In other instances, data wipers remain dormant until a specific time, preventing detection and causing intermittent data corruption.
As if the threat landscape weren't challenging enough, the Symantec Threat Hunter Team recently discovered a new ransomware family known as "3AM." This ransomware, though limited in its deployment so far, represents the constant innovation and adaptation of cybercriminals. Understanding and countering such emerging threats is crucial to cybersecurity efforts.
To mitigate the risk posed by dual ransomware attacks and evolving ransomware tactics, the recommendations for network defenders:
- Preparedness: Organizations should have a robust incident response plan in place to swiftly respond to cyber incidents.
- Identity and Access Management: Implement strong identity and access management practices to restrict unauthorized access to critical systems and data.
- Protective Controls and Architecture: Enhance protective controls and network architecture to minimize vulnerabilities and reduce the attack surface.
- Vulnerability and Configuration Management: Continuously monitor and update systems to identify and remediate vulnerabilities.
Dual ransomware attacks represent a concerning evolution in cyber threats. Organizations must remain vigilant, adapt their cybersecurity strategies, and stay informed about emerging tactics used by cybercriminals. By following the FBI's recommendations and collaborating with cybersecurity experts, businesses and institutions can better defend themselves against this growing menace. Remember, in the ever-evolving world of cybersecurity, preparedness is paramount.