ORX-Locker – A Darknet Ransomware That Even Your Grandmother Can Use

Written by Ran L. and Mickael S.

The bar for becoming a cyber-criminal has never been so low. Whether buying off-the-shelf malware or writing your own, with a small investment, anyone can make a profit. Now it seems that the bar has been lowered even further with the creation of a new Darknet site that offers Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), titled ORX-Locker.

Ransomware-as-a-Service enables a user with no knowledge or cash to create his own stubs and use them to infect systems. If the victim decides to pay, the ransom goes to the service provider, who takes a percent of the payment and forwards the rest to the user. For cyber-criminals, this is a win-win situation. The user who cannot afford to buy the ransomware or does not have the requisite knowledge can acquire it for free, and the creator gets his ransomware spread without any effort from his side.

This is not the first time we have seen this kind of service. McAfee previously (May, 2015) reported on Tox. While Tox was the first ransomware-as-a-service, it seems that ORX has taken the idea one step further, with AV evasion methods and complex communication techniques, and apparently also using universities and other platforms as its infrastructure.

In the “August 2015 IBM Security IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly, 3Q 2015,” published on Monday (August 24, 2015), IBM mentioned TOX while predicting: “This simplicity may spread rapidly to more sophisticated but less common ransomware attack paradigms and lead to off-the-shelf offerings in the cloud.” Just one day later, a post was published on a closed Darknet forum regarding the new ORX-Locker service.

ORX – First Appearance

On August 25, 2015, a user dubbed orxteam published a post regarding the new ransomware service. The message, which was part of his introduction post – a mandatory post every new user has to make to be accepted to the forum – described the new ORX-Locker ransomware as a service platform. In the introduction, the user presented himself as Team ORX, a group that provides private locker software (their name for ransomware) and also ransomware-as-a-service platform.

ORX team introduction post in a closed Darknet hacking forum.
ORX Team introduction post in a closed Darknet hacking forum.

ORX Locker Online Platform

Team ORX has built a Darknet website dedicated to the new public service. To enter the site, new users just need to register. No email or other identification details are required. Upon registration, users have the option to enter a referral username, which will earn them three percent from every payment made to the new user. After logging in, the user can move between five sections:

Home – the welcome screen where you users can see statistics on how much system has been locked by their ransom, how many victims decided to pay, how much they earned and their current balance.

Build EXE – Team ORX has made the process of creating a stub so simple that the only thing a user needs to do is to enter an ID number for his stub (5 digits max) and the ransom price (ORX put a minimum of $75). After that, the user clicks on the Build EXE button and the stub is created and presented in a table with all other stubs previously created by the user.

ORX-Locker Darknet platform, which enables every registered user to build his own ransomware stub.
ORX-Locker Darknet platform, which enables every registered user to build his own ransomware stub.

Stats – This section presents the user with information on systems infected with his stub, including the system OS, how many files have been encrypted, time and date of infection, how much profit has been generated by each system, etc.

Wallet – following a successful infection, the user can withdraw his earnings and transfer them to a Bitcoin address of his choosing.

Support – This section provides general information on the service, including more information on how to build the stub and a mail address (orxsupport@safe-mail[.]net) that users can contact if they require support.

Ransomware

When a user downloads the created stub, he gets a zip file containing the stub, in the form of an “.exe” file. Both the zip and the stub names consist of a random string, 20-characters long. Each file has a different name.

Once executed, the ransomware starts communicating with various IP addresses. The following is a sample from our analysis:

  1. 130[.]75[.]81[.]251 – Leibniz University of Hanover
  2. 130[.]149[.]200[.]12 – Technical University of Berlin
  3. 171[.]25[.]193[.]9 – DFRI (Swedish non-profit and non-party organization working for digital rights)
  4. 199[.]254[.]238[.]52 – Riseup (Riseup provides online communication tools for people and groups working on liberatory social change)

As you can see, some of the addresses are related to universities and others to organizations with various agendas.

Upon activation, the ransomware connects to the official TOR project website and downloads the TOR client. The malware then transmits data over this channel. Using hidden services for communication is a trend that has been adopted by most known ransomware tools in the last year, as was the case of Cryptowall 3.0. In our analysis, the communication was over the standard 9050 port and over 49201.

The final piece would be the encryption of files on the victim’s machine. Unlike other, more “target oriented” ransomware, this particular one locks all files, changing the file ending to .LOCKED and deletes the originals.

When the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted, and a payment instruction file will be created on the desktop.

After the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted
After the ransomware finishes encrypting the files, a message will popup announcing that all the files were encrypted

In the payment instruction file (.html), the victim receives a unique payment ID and a link to the payment website, located on the onion network (rkcgwcsfwhvuvgli[.]onion). After entering the site using the payment ID, the victim receives another set of instructions in order to complete the payment.

ORX-Locker payment platform which has a dedicated site located on the onion network.
ORX-Locker payment platform, which has a dedicated site located on the onion network.

Finally, although some basic persistence and anti-AV mechanisms are present, the malware still has room to “grow.” We are certain that as its popularity grows, more developments and enhancements will follow.

YARA rule:

rule ORXLocker
{
meta:
author = “SenseCy”
date = “30/08/15”
description = “ORXLocker_yara_rule”

strings:
$string0 = {43 61 6e 27 74 20 63 6f 6d 70 6c 65 74 65 20 53 4f 43 4b 53 34 20 63 6f 6e 6e 65 63 74 69 6f 6e 20 74 6f 20 25 64 2e 25 64 2e 25 64 2e 25 64 3a 25 64 2e 20 28 25 64 29 2c 20 72 65 71 75 65 73 74 20 72 65 6a 65 63 74 65 64 20 62 65 63 61 75 73 65 20 74 68 65 20 63 6c 69 65 6e 74 20 70 72 6f 67 72 61 6d 20 61 6e 64 20 69 64 65 6e 74 64 20 72 65 70 6f 72 74 20 64 69 66 66 65 72 65 6e 74 20 75 73 65 72 2d 69 64 73 2e}
$string1 = {43 61 6e 27 74 20 63 6f 6d 70 6c 65 74 65 20 53 4f 43 4b 53 35 20 63 6f 6e 6e 65 63 74 69 6f 6e 20 74 6f 20 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 30 32 78 25 30 32 78 3a 25 64 2e 20 28 25 64 29}
$string2 = {53 4f 43 4b 53 35 3a 20 73 65 72 76 65 72 20 72 65 73 6f 6c 76 69 6e 67 20 64 69 73 61 62 6c 65 64 20 66 6f 72 20 68 6f 73 74 6e 61 6d 65 73 20 6f 66 20 6c 65 6e 67 74 68 20 3e 20 32 35 35 20 5b 61 63 74 75 61 6c 20 6c 65 6e 3d 25 7a 75 5d}
$string3 = {50 72 6f 78 79 20 43 4f 4e 4e 45 43 54 20 66 6f 6c 6c 6f 77 65 64 20 62 79 20 25 7a 64 20 62 79 74 65 73 20 6f 66 20 6f 70 61 71 75 65 20 64 61 74 61 2e 20 44 61 74 61 20 69 67 6e 6f 72 65 64 20 28 6b 6e 6f 77 6e 20 62 75 67 20 23 33 39 29}
$string4 = {3c 61 20 68 72 65 66 3d 68 74 74 70 73 3a 2f 2f 72 6b 63 67 77 63 73 66 77 68 76 75 76 67 6c 69 2e 74 6f 72 32 77 65 62 2e 6f 72 67 3e 68 74 74 70 73 3a 2f 2f 72 6b 63 67 77 63 73 66 77 68 76 75 76 67 6c 69 2e 74 6f 72 32 77 65 62 2e 6f 72 67 3c 2f 61 3e 3c 62 72 3e}
$string5 = {43 3a 5c 44 65 76 5c 46 69 6e 61 6c 5c 52 65 6c 65 61 73 65 5c 6d 61 69 6e 2e 70 64 62}
$string6 = {2e 3f 41 56 3f 24 62 61 73 69 63 5f 6f 66 73 74 72 65 61 6d 40 44 55 3f 24 63 68 61 72 5f 74 72 61 69 74 73 40 44 40 73 74 64 40 40 40 73 74 64 40 40}
$string7 = {2e 3f 41 56 3f 24 62 61 73 69 63 5f 69 6f 73 40 5f 57 55 3f 24 63 68 61 72 5f 74 72 61 69 74 73 40 5f 57 40 73 74 64 40 40 40 73 74 64 40 40}
$string8 = “ttp://4rhfxsrzmzilheyj.onion/get.php?a=” wide
$string9 = “\\Payment-Instructions.htm” wide

condition:
all of them
}

The Latest Trends in the Russian Underground – H1 2015 Summary

It is summer in Russia, and the time of the year when people head to the seaside on vacation for a couple of weeks’ break. The decline in activity can be clearly seen on the Russian-speaking forums and marketplaces dealing with cybercrime. Apparently, cybercriminals also take a rest from their online activities, just as they would from a regular full-time job. For us, it is the best time to perform a deep analysis of the main trends in the Russian underground boards during the first half of 2015. When preparing the insights from this analysis, our goal was to identify the main scope of interest on closed, Russian-speaking forums these days, as well as to pinpoint the shifts that have occurred in the last six months.

In order to draw conclusions, we analyzed the threads from the last six months from the four leading Russian forums. These forums mainly serve as a marketplace for attack tools and platforms, in addition to being a source of information and consultation for the forum members. Hereinafter, we tried to summarize the main topics of conversation on Russian marketplaces dedicated to cybercrime during the past six months:

Exploit Kits: In recent months, we have witnessed numerous attacks involving EK as the intrusion vector, including Angler, Neutrino, Nuclear, Magnitude and RIG. These EKs are constantly updated with new exploits.

While some EKs are offered for sale on trading boards, others are available exclusively to selected buyers via private sales, using the Jabber instant messaging system for example. For one case in point, RIG EK 3.0 is offered for a monthly rental fee of $700 on a closed Russian forum (this is considered an extremely low price). In comparison, Angler EK, AKA XXX is not advertised at all among Russian forum members on any of the closed forums.

RIG EK Statistics – screenshots published by the developer of the EK
RIG EK Statistics – screenshots published by the developer of the EK

Banking Trojans: During the last few months, we did not spot any new banking Trojans for sale on the Russian underground. The majority of recent attacks against the financial industry clients were perpetrated using DYRE or Dridex banking Trojans. Even though there is evidence that both were developed by Russian coders and are distributed among Russian-speaking criminals, we did not witness any commercial trading of these Trojans.

The two Trojans currently selling on Russian forums are Kronos, whose sales started back in the middle of 2014, and the new version of Tinba, which is based on source code leaked in the 2014 version.

Tinba banking Trojan offered for rent
Tinba banking Trojan offered for rent

Ransomware: Despite the fact that new campaigns distributing ransomware are uncovered on a regular basis, culminating in an FBI alert at the beginning of 2015, we did not see an elevated interest in this kind of malware on the Russian forums. The sales of CTB-Locker were ceased, at least publicly, probably because of the extensive media coverage. None of the ransomware tools that are widely used in the wild (TorrentLocker, Tesla Crypt, Cryptowall), are offered for sale on Russian marketplaces. The only two new ransomware tools offered during H1 2015 were GM Cryptolocker for Android-based devices and Azazel locker, for just $200. Both are relatively new and there has been no comprehensive feedback from buyers as yet.

The interface of GM Cryptolocker – ransomware for mobile platforms
The interface of GM Cryptolocker – ransomware for mobile platforms

RAT malware based on legitimate software – a clear new trend on the Russian underground is the development of malicious tools based on the source code of legitimate software for remote access (such as TeamViewer, AmmyAdmin, etc.). These tools are disguised as an update for the software or as a setup file. Additional tools traded on the forums exploit services and programs for remote control, such as RDS (Remote Desktop Services, RMS (Remote Manipulator System) and RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol).

To date, we have identified five different malicious tools of this kind for sale during the last six months. According to the sellers’ description, they are capable of bypassing defense mechanisms installed on the machine and gaining full access to it.

Screenshot from a video uploaded by the seller of TVSpy, a RAT based on TeamViewer software. The video presents the malware in action.
Screenshot from a video uploaded by the seller of TVSpy, a RAT based on TeamViewer software. The video presents the malware in action.

Loaders and Droppers – In recent months, we have identified a rise in this type of malware for sale on Russian underground forums. Generally, they it is spread via spam emails, and once installed on the system, serves as a tunnel for later installations of malicious programs. In this manner, defense mechanisms can be bypassed. One instance involving this malware was the infamous Andromeda, sold since 2011 to date for only $500. Andromeda was employed by the Carbanak group against financial targets. Aside from Andromeda, we also identified six new loaders and droppers offered for sale during the past six months.

Digital Certificates Trade – This phenomenon started as a sporadic sales thread, appearing occasionally on several forums during the last year. As demand expanded, trade in digital certificates evolved into a successful sub-category on Russian underground marketplaces. Recently, a dedicated online shop for trade in digital certificates was launched. The average price for one certificate is about 1.4 BTC.

The vigorous trade in these certificates demonstrates that they are quite useful for the purchasers, who use them to sign the malicious code they distribute and evade detection.

For obvious reasons, the sellers do not disclose the origin of the certificates, but claim they are authentic and were issued by a Certificate Authority (CA).

An online shop for digital certificates trade
An online shop for digital certificates trade

How Hackers Use Social Media Networks to Put Your Organization at Risk

SenseCy’s teams monitor underground and password-protected forums and communities in many languages – Russian, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Portuguese, English, and more. By gaining access to the Deep Web and Darknet, we identify suspicious activity and new hacker tools and enable our clients to mitigate or eliminate cyber threats.

Hacker communities on social networks continue to evolve. More and more communities are creating Twitter accounts as well as pages and groups in popular social networks such as Facebook and VKontakte (a Russian social network) to share information, tools, and experience.

In the past, hackers came together on social networks to hold operational discussions, share targets, and join forces for DDoS attacks, but less to upload or download hacking tools. Since this is changing, we are now monitoring hacking tools offered for download on Twitter, Facebook, and VKontakte.

Source code published on Twitter
Source code published on Twitter

These hacker communities can be classified into three main categories:

  1. Open public groups and accounts that make common, well-known tools available.

    Open Facebook group of well-known Arab hackers
    Open Facebook group of well-known Arab hackers
  2. Closed, secret groups sharing rare or sector-related tools or programs in a specific language.

    Secret Facebook group from Southeast Asia
    Secret Facebook group from Southeast Asia
  3. Groups sharing or even selling self-developed tools.
    Facebook post in closed Asian hacker group
    Facebook post in closed Asian hacker group

    A prominent example is the self-developed DDoS tool created by hacker group AnonGhost for the #OpIsrael cyber campaign, which is expected to take place on April 7, 2015. This tool uses three flooding methods, TCP, UDP, and HTTP and can operate through a proxy if needed. AnonGhost posted its new tool on its official Facebook page with a link to a tutorial on YouTube, and soon it was widely distributed among hacktivists through social media.

    From AnonGhost's official Facebook Page
    From AnonGhost’s official Facebook Page

    We regularly monitor trends and developments in social networks, since they are becoming the preferred platform for groups of hackers to share and improve attack tools. SenseCy also takes part in these communities, which gives us the edge in preventing attacks in real time. We continue to track new trends and developments to detect cyber threats for our clients.

‘BandarChor’ and ‘Ebola Virus’ Ransomware – Are They the Same?

F-Secure recently reported on BandarChor, a new player in the field of ransomware. The SenseCy team that analyzed the so-called new malware was intrigued by some of its characteristics. Further analysis revealed that BandarChor is another variant of Ebola Virus, ransomware we reported on in October 2014.

Brief Review of BandarChor (according to F-Secure)

First documented infections – November 2014
Spreading platform/method – Malicious emails or distribution by exploit kits
Capabilities – Upon execution, the ransomware encrypts multiple files on the infected machine. Afterwards the files are renamed to [original_file_name].id-[ID]_fud@india.com.

The Link Connecting BandarChor with Ebola Virus

BandarChor’s “file name modification” attribute caught our attention, as SenseCy had already encountered ransomware with a very similar modus operandi. In a blog post in October 2014, we reported on Ebola Virus, a new ransomware whose victims were mainly in Russia. Based on our research, we believe that Ebola and BandarChor are variants of the same ransomware, although with slight differences. This is because both use the same file name modification after encryption. BandarChor renames files to [filename].id-[ID]_fud@india.com, while one of the previously discovered Ebola variants changes file names to id-*_decrypt@india.com, indicating that the attackers were using the same domain.

BandarChor / Ebola Ransomware Evolution as Observed by SenseCy

SenseCy first encountered Ebola malware in a discussion on VKontakte, a very popular Russian social network. One of the participants uploaded a sample of the virus that had infected his computer. The sample that we examined was received by the victim in an email that contained a malicious link. Clicking the link initiated downloading of an RAR archive, and unzipping the archive encrypted all files stored on the PC that had the extensions .pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .jpg, or .dwg. After that, the filenames were changed to *id-*help@antivirusebola.com. According to an infected user, to recover the files on the PC, he had to send an email to help[at]antivirusebola.com, and he was subsequently instructed to pay one bitcoin to a certain address.

We conducted a further investigation on the Russian-speaking web that revealed many other reports of Ebola virus infections. In most of the cases, the malicious link was sent through an email, allegedly from the tax authorities or traffic police.

The ransomware was reported on several security firm forums (such as Kaspersky, Symantec, and Dr.Web), and later in November, was included in TrendMicro’s threat encyclopedia under TROJ_CRYPAURA.A (with a decryption solution).

According to Russian security firm Dr.Web, the the Ebola virus first appeared on August 20, though a slightly different version has been distributed since August 7 that changes the file names to id-*_decrypt@india.com or id-*_com@darkweider.com. All three versions are probably variants of the same malware, identified by Dr.Web as Trojan.Encoder.741, and were coded by a Russian nicknamed Korrektor (presumably the author of other ransomware as well). The malware is written in Delphi language, packed with an Armadillo packer, and encrypted with the AES-128 algorithm.

Additional Variants of this Ransomware

After performing additional research, we discovered more formats of this ransomware. In most cases, it is disguised in an email allegedly from the tax authorities, courts, or the like. Here is a list of email addresses identified as being connected to this ransomware (according to a Russian cyber security blog):

  • Com[at]darkweider.com
  • protectdata[at]inbox.com
  • xsmail[at]india.com
  • decrypt[at]india.com
  • decode[at]india.com
  • help[at]antivirusebola.com
  • foxmail[at]inbox.com
  • marineelizz[at]inbox.com
  • protectdata[at]inbox.com
  • sos[at]xsmail.com

In conclusion, this case study demonstrates the importance of near-real-time cyber intelligence. By identifying future threats and notifying our customers in advance, we can help them to protect themselves before the threat can be detected by traditional security systems.

 

SenseCy 2014 Annual Cyber Intelligence Report

Written and prepared by SenseCy’s Cyber Intelligence analysts.

Executive Summary

Clearly, 2014 was an important year in the cyber arena. The technical level of the attacks, the variety of tools and methods used and the destructive results achieved have proven, yet again, that cyber is a cross-border tool that is rapidly gaining momentum.

This year, we witnessed attacks on key vectors: cyber criminals setting their sights on targets in the private sector, hacktivists using cyber tools for their ideological struggles, state-sponsored campaigns to facilitate spying on high-profile targets, and cyber conflicts between countries.

The following is an excerpt from an annual report prepared by our Cyber Intelligence analysts. To receive a copy, please send a request to: info@sensecy.com

Insights

Below are several of our insights regarding cyber activity this past year:

  • The financial sector was and continues to be a key target for cyber criminals, with most of the corporations hacked this year in the U.S. being attacked through infection of Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. Despite the high level of awareness as to the vulnerability of these systems following the Target breach at the end of 2013, ever more organizations are continuing to fall victim to these types of attacks, as the cybercrime community develops and sells dedicated tools for these systems.
  • In 2014, we saw another step up in the use of cyber as a cross-border weapon, the use of which can be highly destructive. This was evidenced in the attack on JPMorgan, which according to reports was a response to sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russia. The ensuing Sony breach and threats to peoples’ lives should the movie The Interview be screened exacerbated the state of asymmetrical war in cyber space, where on the one hand, we see countries attacking companies, and on the other, groups of hackers attacking countries. This trend becomes even more concerning following the reports of the deaths of three workers at a nuclear reactor in South Korea, after it became the target of a targeted cyber-attack, evidently by North Korean entities.
  • This past year was rife with campaigns by anti-Israel hacktivist campaigns, whose motivation for attacking Israel’s cyber networks was especially strong. Again, it was clearly demonstrated that the relationship between physical and virtual space is particularly strong, when alongside Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014), we witnessed a targeted cyber campaign by hacktivist organizations from throughout the Muslim world (but not only) and by cyber terror groups, which in some cases were able to score significant successes. We believe that in 2015, attacks by hacktivist groups will become higher quality (DDoS attacks at high bandwidth, for example) and the use of vectors, which to date have been less common, such as attacks against mobile devices, will become increasingly frequent.
  • Involvement of the internal factor in cyber-attacks: According to some speculations published recently in the global media regarding the massive Sony breach, former company employees  may have abused their positions and status to steal confidential information and try to harm the organization. This underscores the importance of information security and internal compartmentalization in organizations with databases containing sensitive information.

The Past Year on the Russian Underground

In 2014, we saw active underground trading of malware and exploits, with some of them being used in attacks inside and outside Russia that gained widespread media coverage in sources dealing with information security.

The following is a list of categories of malware and the main services offered for sale in 2014 on the Russian-speaking underground forums. Note that in this analysis, we only included important tools that were well-received by the buyers, which indicates their reliability and level of professionalism. Additionally, only tools that were sold for over a month were included. Let us also note that the analysis does not include special PoS firmware, but only programs designed to facilitate remote information theft through takeover of the terminal.

Malware_Russian Underground

Prices

The average price of a tool offered for sale in 2014 was $1,500. Since 2013, the average price has increased by $500. The following graph lists the average price in each of the categories outlined above (in USD):

Average_Price_by_Category

Key Trends Observed on the Russian Underground this Past Year

Trojan Horses for the Financial Sector

Malware designed to target financial institutions is a highly sought-after product on the Russian underground, and this past year we observed the development of malware based on Kronos source code – Zeus, Chthonic (called Udacha by the seller) and Dyre malware. Additionally, the sale of tools designed to sell login details for banking sites via mobile devices were also observed.

In this context, it should be noted that the modular structure of many types of financial malware allows flexibility by both the seller and the buyer. Most financial malware is sold in this format – meaning, various modules responsible for the malware’s activity can be purchased separately: Formgrabber module, Web-Injections module and more.

MitM Attacks

This type of attack vector, known to cyber criminals as Web injections, is most common as a module in Trojan horses for the financial sector. Members of many forums offer their services as injection writers, referring to creation of malware designed to be integrated into a specific banking Trojan horse (generally based on Zeus), tailored to the specific bank, which imitates the design of its windows, etc. In 2014, we saw this field prosper, with at least seven similar services offered on the various forums.

Ransomware

This year we witnessed a not insignificant amount of ransomware for sale on Russian-speaking forums. It would appear that the forums see a strong potential for profit through this attack vector and therefore invest in the development of ransomware. Furthermore, note that some of the ransomware uses the Tor network to better conceal the command and control servers. Since CryptoLocker was discovered in September 2013, we have seen numerous attempts at developing similar malware both for PCs and laptops.

Additional trends and insights are detailed in the full report.

After Intimidating Humankind Around the World, the Ebola Virus is now Threatening the Cyber Arena

It is a well-known fact that hackers can be very creative, not only when writing malicious code, but also when bestowing a name on their creation or connecting it to some sensational subject.

This time, inspired by the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in Africa, the authors of the ransomware discussed below coded it to change filenames on the infected computer into a string containing the word “Ebola”. Let us take a deeper look at this new malware.

We first encountered the malware in a discussion on VKontakte, a very popular Russian social network. One of the participants uploaded a sample of the virus that infected his computer.

According to his description, he received the malware via an email message that contained a link. Clicking the link initiated the downloading of an .RAR archive that DOES NOT pop-up an AV alert. After unzipping the archive, all the files on the PC (extensions: PDF, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, JPG, DWG) became encrypted and their names were changed to *id-*help@antivirusebola.com. The shared folders were also encrypted and access denied. To recover the contents of the PC, the victim had to send an email to the address help[at]antivirusebola.com, and was subsequently instructed to pay 1 Bitcoin (approximately US$380) to a given address.

Further investigation on the Russian-speaking web revealed many other reports of Ebola virus infections. In most of the cases, the malicious link was sent via an email message, allegedly from the tax authorities or traffic police.

The ransomware was reported on several security firm forums (such as Kaspersky, Symantec and Dr.Web), but no solution to decrypting the files was found.

According to the Russian security company Dr.Web, the malware, now called “the Ebola Virus,” firstly appeared on August 20. The same ransomware has been distributed since August 7, albeit in a slightly different format – the file names were changed to id-*_decrypt@india.com or id-*_com@darkweider.com). All three versions are probably variants of the same malware identified by Dr.Web as Trojan.Encoder.741, and coded by a Russian nicknamed Korrektor (presumably the author of other ransomware as well). The malware is written in Delphi language, packed with an Armadillo packer and uses the algorithm AES-128 for encryption.

A closer look at the sample revealed the IP address of the C&C server – 31.220.2.150 – which belongs to a company called KODDOS, registered in Hong Kong (offering Offshore hosting and DDoS protection). The network is generated over HTTP – the infected machine sends out a unique string, probably the UID of the infected machine.

The post in VKontakte

It is important to note that to date, the malware is largely unrecognized by AV vendors. (The detection rate varies for different samples on VirusTotal – the highest is 15/55.)

Protect your Mobile, or else – You Will Have to Pay Ransom for the Right to Use it Again!

Over the last couple of months, two major threats to the constantly evolving cybercrime world are becoming more and more prominent. Cybercriminals are seeking new sources of profit, as the old ones become harder to exploit over time. Lately, we have noticed a new developing trend, a procreation that combines the two mentioned below.

The first trend on the rise is the targeting of Android systems. Although the subject is not new on underground platforms, and dedicated rooms for discussing vulnerabilities on Android were already opened a couple of years ago, we can definitely say that a big step forward has been made in recent months in this area.

Malware for Android is frequently seen on underground forums and uploaded to file-sharing platforms. Since the beginning of 2014 alone, we have monitored approximately ten malware tools for infecting Android devices, for example Dendroid, AndroRAT, iDroid (targeting both iOS and Android systems), Stoned Cat, etc. The modus operandi can be different, but the final target is always the same: monetary theft, as opposed to stealing credentials for mobile banking applications, sending premium SMS messages, or some other method. The infection technique also varies. It usually happens when the victim installs a new application that is actually the virus itself, obviously well-disguised as something harmless. Another infection vector is binding a malicious code to a legitimate application. Finally, there are the good old emails and SMS messages containing a link that initiates the download of malware.

Dendroid's Admin Panel
Dendroid’s Admin Panel
IDroid's Admin Panel
IDroid’s Admin Panel

The second trend is the growing number of ransomware viruses that lock the user’s computer and/or encrypt his files, then demand remuneration for restoring the computer to its initial state. The most infamous malware of this kind is Cryptolocker, but there are some more that we wrote about in the past.

If these two methods are profitable, why not combine them and increase the odds of earning more easy money? We recently noticed the sale of two “ransomware for mobile” products on the Russian underground. The first is called Block Android Mobile – offered alongside additional products by the same seller, such as Syslocker and BrowBlock. The seller and his services appeared on one of the closed Russian forums in February 2014, but the mobile ransomware was offered as a new function in April 2014. According to the seller, there are two APIs for this malware – the first redirects traffic to a lending page, where an automatic downloading of a malicious file occurs. The victim then has to run the APK file later. The second API injects the APK file, directly by the cybercriminal, wherever he desires. A deeper analysis of this malware was provided in the Malware don’t need coffee blog, as he came across its files in action.

Another ransomware for mobile is Tor Android Cryptolocker. This was offered for sale for US$5,000 about two weeks ago. Once installed on the mobile device, the malware blocks the screen, thus preventing its deletion. At the same time, it encrypts all the files of a defined format that are found on the SD card and in the phone’s memory (including music, photos, videos, etc.). The victim is asked to pay a certain amount of WebMoney, and then his phone is unblocked. The author was offering only three copies for sale. According to our last check, two were already sold. This probably means that we will soon see this malware in action.

The blocking message sent by Tor Android Cryptolocker
The blocking message sent by Tor Android Cryptolocker

Taking into account the important role that mobile phones play in our lives, this can be a very profitable means of money extortion. Buying a new phone may not always be cheaper than paying hundreds of dollars to get the old one back. And there are also all those pics and videos (of extremely high emotional value) that we do not always backup, although it is widely known that we should. Cyber criminals can be good psychologists sometimes, and they can hurt us in the most painful places.

Ransomware Malware – Not Exclusive to CryptoLocker!

Since its discovery in the wild in September 2013, CryptoLocker has held the title ‘the most damaging Windows ransomware Trojan.’ CryptoLocker appears to spread through fake emails, and once it reaches your device, it encrypts the files on your computer. As soon as it completes its malicious action, a message demanding a ransom of $100 or $300 in return for the decryption is displayed. The relatively large sum demanded, combined with a tight deadline (after which the file is lost forever), makes it appear more aggressive than other similar viruses.

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But CryptoLocker’s programmers have not reinvented the wheel. This kind of business can be very profitable, so Russian cyber criminals cannot just pass it up. We heard mention of different kinds of locker malware on Russian forums already in 2005, when no-one had even heard about web currencies, which today is a very convenient way to settle a ransom payment.

Silence WinLocker first appeared on Russian trading platforms in early 2012 and sold for $250. This ransomware demanded a payment of $200 for an alleged violation of the copyright law. This was changed to accusations of visiting porn websites in more updated versions of the locker.

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MultiLocker was another ransomware that sold for $899 in November 2012. Many underground forums members complained that it bore too close a resemblance to old versions of SilenceLocker.

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Euro WinLocker sold for $1,000 in July 2012, and was marketed as Europe-oriented ransomware. However, sales were soon halted, owing to a financial conflict that eventually banned the seller from the two most important underground forums. He thus lost any chance of continuing to market his products. ULocker was another ransomware that appeared almost simultaneously with Euro WinLocker, and would demand 50 or 100 Euro to unlock the system.

Looking at more modern malware, we have the Winlock + BrowLock (that prevents the opening of new pages), which still sells today, for a percentage of the income.

As a general rule, Russian hackers do not like operating in their own country. Although it may look like a very patriotic act coming from such “tough guys”, the real reason is more likely that they are just afraid of getting caught and punished by the authorities. There are, of course exceptions, for example this “cute” contemporary locker malware, whose ransom demand is displayed in Russian.

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Given this state of affairs, we can see that CryptoLocker is not the first ransomware and will surely not be the last.

Recent Trends from the Russian Underground

Being a successful hacker can be a very demanding profession. Maybe the most important trait required for this job is being innovative and keeping updated of recent trends. Just like in physical fitness – a couple of weeks away from of the gym, and you feel left out of the loop – such is the case with hacking. You take sick leave from the cybercrime scene for a brief period of time and when you return, you feel like a lot has changed. This scene is very dynamic: new threats and vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered and then patches and security updates released; new Trojans are sold on the underground and then the source code is leaked, rendering them of no interest anymore. Something is always going on.

This time, we want to draw your attention to recent trends identified on the Russian underground, from leading forums and other web-platforms.

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A Wider Variety of Crypt (Obfuscation) Services for sale on Trading Platforms

We have observed a sharp increase in threads offering crypt services for malware files lately. In the last month alone, we traced at least 20 active threads advertising crypt services for .exe or .dll files on different forums. There is a wide assortment and the prices are competitive. You can choose between a one-time service for $15 – $50 per file or a monthly subscription for a service starting at $150 for a new vendor and $500 for a well-known, time-honored service.

The main purpose of the crypt is to bypass AV, firewalls, browsers and malware detection, etc. and it is valid for 24-72 hours on average. Increased offerings of this service indicate a growing demand, which may be motivated by two main reasons: increased volume of activity linked to botnets and difficulty in bypassing security mechanisms that are becoming more sophisticated. Actually, we think it is a combination of the two – more and more cyber criminals are attracted to easy profits from running a botnet, while security firms try to fight back and refine their defense mechanisms. The crypt services happened to be in the right place at the right time to rake in the money.

More Malware Using Tor Browser

In recent months, new Tor-based malware has appeared on underground trading platforms. The newest is a TOR Android bot named “Slempo” and a TorLocker Ransomware (the first one rented for $500 per month after a connection cost of $1000 and the second one is sold for $200). Before that, we saw Atrax HTTP Tor Bot, whose admin panel is located on a TOR browser.

Using Tor hidden services provides anonymity to the botnet operator, as it is almost impossible to reveal the identities of TOR users. The disadvantage of this method is the large size of the malware files and the significant resources needed to manage such a botnet, owing to the integration of TOR.

As we see it, this may turn out to be quite an alarming trend, making the detection of botnets and their initiators that much more difficult.

Greater Focus Granted to Firmware Attacks

As previously mentioned, cyber-criminals wage a constant battle against evolving defense mechanisms. While more and more obstacles are placed in the path of the hacker seeking to access your PC, his path to firmware devices such as ATM and POS remains almost clear. The operating system of these devices is usually the common Windows XP, and due to their physical aspects (the possibility of inserting physical malware into an ATM, for instance), it is much harder to protect them.

Hackers have also discovered this vector – we were recently privy to numerous discussions about ways to attack ATMs, as well as an increasing number of POS malware for sale and download.

In our opinion, we may be witnessing a gradual shift in the main targets of cyber-criminals – from the personal PC to large-scale devices of organizations. Recent attacks executed via POS devices on Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers merely corroborate this claim.

SenseCy is coming to town! Come meet us at the RSA USA 2014 conference, February 24-28, in San Francisco.

Cyber Threats to the Healthcare Industry

Written by Gal Landesman

Introduction

The healthcare industry is advancing rapidly, linking systems and medical devices to the Internet, adopting electronic health records and implementing regulatory reforms. Tremendous technological advancements in the medical industry bring with them a greater reliance on software-controlled devices and wireless technologies. These technologies are used in any visit to the doctor and in hospital wards. Many of them connect or have the capability to connect to the Internet. Alongside the opportunities presented, the industry is also a major target for cyberattack, mostly for financial motivationIn the following post, we will present some of the cyber threats currently faced by the healthcare industry.

In today’s environment, organizations are required to take responsibility for securing their networks and computers. Alarming vulnerabilities in medical devices have caused the FDA to issue guidelines for cyber security of the medical device industry. The U.S. Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, for example, permits the fining of hospitals and other organizations up to $1.5 million a year for serious security incidents. Unfortunately, the industry is falling short of complying with said security standards. Last year, for example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) performed a random audit of 20 healthcare organizations, 19 of which failed.

(Note –  this blog post is an excerpt from our report: ”Cyber Threats to the Healthcare Industry”. If you are interested in receiving the full report, please write to: info@sensecy.com).

Threats to the Healthcare Industry

According to security experts, cyber criminals are shifting their focus from the financial industry to the healthcare industry, today an easier and more profitable target. Healthcare records contain valuable information for cyber criminals, such as social security numbers and personal information. Credit card records sell for an average of $2, while medical records can fetch about $20 on the black market. According to the Experian 2014 Data Breach Industry Forecast, the healthcare industry is likely to make the most breach headlines in 2014, despite the fact that 2013 was a year of mega-breaches in the healthcare industry.

Hackers' ransom note, after breaking into a Virginia government website
Hackers’ ransom note, after breaking into a Virginia government website

Identity and Information Theft

Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses an individual’s name and personal identity to fraudulently receive medical services, prescription drugs and goods, or attempts to commit fraudulent billing. Information theft can include the theft of personal information for malicious use, such as selling it on the DarkNet. According to a Ponemon Institute 2013 survey, medical identity theft claimed more than 1.84 million U.S. victims in 2013. Medical identity theft is on the rise in the U.S., where the number of victims in 2013 increased by 19%.

Medical Device Breaching

Over the last 15 years, a growing number of medical devices have become interconnected through hospital networks, the Internet, smartphones and other devices, increasing their vulnerability. This has not escaped the attention of the FDA who recently issued new guidelines to biomedical engineers, healthcare IT and procurement staff, medical device user facilities, hospitals and medical device manufacturers.

The new FDA guidelines came in response to the 2012 findings of a governmental panel that revealed that computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infection that can potentially render these devices temporarily inoperable. Many of the devices run on Windows variants. They are interconnected through internal networks to the Internet and are also exposed to laptops in the hospitals, making them vulnerable to malware.

An example of the implications that could be caused by such systems was demonstrated by the medical-device panel from the NIST Information Security & Privacy Advisory Board, who described fetal monitors in intensive-care wards that were slowed down due to malware infection. This problem can affect a wide range of devices, such as compounders, diagnostic equipment, etc.

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned mostly about vulnerabilities found in wireless implanted defibrillators and insulin pumps, but thousands of other network-connected life-saving devices are also vulnerable. Malware in medical devices is probably much more prevalent than we know, since most of it is not reported to the regulators and there are no records. The OS updating process for medical devices is an onerous regulatory process.

Cyber threats to medical devices (from the GAO report)
Cyber threats to medical devices (from the GAO report)

Conclusion

We believe that the healthcare industry is facing major threats from cyberspace. These threats encompass large areas of the industry and may become a greater burden for it, compromising patient safety, and causing financial and commercial damage to the associated bodies.

SenseCy is coming to town! Come meet us at the RSA USA 2014 conference, February 24-28, in San Francisco.