Recent Attacks Suggest the Three Ransomware Groups Are Sharing Playbooks or Affiliates
LAS VEGAS, Aug. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, released new findings into the connections between the most prominent ransomware groups this past year, including Royal, in its report, “
Clustering Attacker Behavior Reveals Hidden Patterns
.” Over the course of three months beginning in January 2023, Sophos X-Ops investigated four different ransomware attacks, one involving Hive, two by Royal, and one by Black Basta, and noticed distinct similarities between the attacks. Despite Royal being a notoriously closed off group that doesn’t openly solicit affiliates from underground forums, granular similarities in the forensics of the attacks suggest all three groups are sharing either affiliates or highly specific technical details of their activities. Sophos is tracking and monitoring the attacks as a “cluster of threat activity” that
defenders can use to speed up detection and response times
“Because the ransomware-as-a-service model requires outside affiliates to carry out attacks, it’s not uncommon for there to be crossover in the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) between these different ransomware groups. However, in these cases, the similarities we’re talking about are at a very granular level. These highly specific, unique behaviors suggest that the Royal ransomware group is much more reliant on affiliates than previously thought. The new insights we’ve gained about Royal’s work with affiliates and possible ties to other groups speak to the value of Sophos’ in-depth, forensic investigations,” said Andrew Brandt, principal researcher, Sophos.
The unique similarities include using the same specific usernames and passwords when the attackers took over systems on the targets, delivering the final payload in .7z archive named after the victim organization, and executing commands on the infected systems with the same batch scripts and files.
Sophos X-Ops succeeded in uncovering these connections following a three-month long investigation into four ransomware attacks. The first attack involved Hive ransomware in January 2023. This was followed by Royals’ attacks in February and March 2023 and, later, in March, Black Basta’s. Near the end of January this year, a large portion of Hive’s operation was disbanded following a sting operation by the FBI. This operation could have led Hive affiliates to seek new employment—perhaps with Royal and Black Basta—which would explain the similarities in the ensuing ransomware attacks.
Because of the similarities between these attacks, Sophos X-Ops began tracking all four ransomware incidents as a cluster of threat activity.
“While threat activity clusters can be a stepping stone to attribution, when researchers focus too much on the ‘who’ of an attack, then they can miss critical opportunities for strengthening defenses. Knowing highly specific attacker behavior helps managed detection and response teams react faster to active attacks. It also helps security providers create stronger protections for customers. When protections are based on behaviors, it doesn’t matter who is attacking—Royal, Black Basta, or otherwise—potential victims will have the necessary security measures in place to block subsequent attacks that display some of the same distinct characteristics,” said Brandt.
More information about these ransomware attacks is available in the article “ Clustering Attacker Behavior Reveals Hidden Patterns .”
Learn More About
- The importance of tracking threat activity clusters
- A triple ransomware attack involving Hive, Lockbit and BlackCat
- How companies are falling victim to multiple ransomware attacks
- The State of Ransomware 2023
- Attacker behaviors, techniques and tactics in the 2023 Active Adversary Report for Business Leaders , based on an analysis of Sophos incident response cases
- Different ransomware threat actors, their TTPs and Sophos’ latest ransomware research in the Ransomware Threat Intelligence Center
- The threat landscape and trends likely to impact cybersecurity in the 2023 Threat Report
- Sophos X-Ops and its groundbreaking threat research by subscribing to the Sophos X-Ops blogs
Sophos is a worldwide leader and innovator of advanced cybersecurity solutions, including Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and incident response services and a broad portfolio of endpoint, network, email, and cloud security technologies that help organizations defeat cyberattacks. As one of the largest pure-play cybersecurity providers, Sophos defends more than 500,000 organizations and more than 100 million users globally from active adversaries, ransomware, phishing, malware, and more. Sophos’ services and products connect through its cloud-based Sophos Central management console and are powered by Sophos X-Ops, the company’s cross-domain threat intelligence unit. Sophos X-Ops intelligence optimizes the entire Sophos Adaptive Cybersecurity Ecosystem, which includes a centralized data lake that leverages a rich set of open APIs available to customers, partners, developers, and other cybersecurity and information technology vendors. Sophos provides cybersecurity-as-a-service to organizations needing fully-managed, turnkey security solutions. Customers can also manage their cybersecurity directly with Sophos’ security operations platform or use a hybrid approach by supplementing their in-house teams with Sophos’ services, including threat hunting and remediation. Sophos sells through reseller partners and managed service providers (MSPs) worldwide. Sophos is headquartered in Oxford, U.K. More information is available at www.sophos.com .
Contact: Sam Powers, Sophos@Walkersands.com