Friday, May 24, 2024

Akira Ransomware Attacks Over 250 Organizations and Collects $42 Million

The Akira ransomware variant has severely impacted more than 250 organizations worldwide, amassing approximately USD 42 million in ransom payments.

This information comes from a detailed joint Cybersecurity Advisory issued by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Evolution of Akira Ransomware

Initially detected in early versions written in C++, the Akira ransomware encrypted victims’ files, appending them with a .akira extension.

However, a significant shift occurred in August 2023 when the ransomware operators began deploying a new variant named Megazord.

This updated version, crafted in Rust, marks encrypted files with a .powerranges extension, indicating a strategic evolution in the malware’s development to evade detection and potentially enhance its encryption capabilities.

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The advisory highlights the extensive reach of the Akira ransomware, noting its profound impact on over 250 organizations.

The financial repercussions are staggering, with the cybercriminals behind these attacks having extracted roughly $42 million USD in ransoms.

The scale and sophistication of the operations suggest a highly organized criminal network with significant resources.

Akira threat actors use tools like FileZilla, WinSCP, WinRAR, and RClone to extract data from a system.

Threat actors use easily accessible tools such as AnyDesk, MobaXterm, RustDesk, Ngrok, and Cloudflare Tunnel to establish command and control channels.

This allows them to exfiltrate data through different protocols like FTP, SFTP, and cloud storage services like Mega. They then connect to exfiltration servers to transfer the data.

Tools Abused

Tool NamePurposeDescription of Use
PowerShellScriptingUsed to automate tasks and manage configurations, often for initial access and movement.
MimikatzCredential HarvestingEmployed to steal credentials, which are crucial for lateral movement within a network.
Cobalt StrikeCommand and ControlA legitimate security tool repurposed to control compromised systems remotely.
PsExecRemote ExecutionUtilized to execute processes on other systems, aiding in the spread of ransomware.
RcloneData ExfiltrationCommand-line program to manage files on cloud storage, used to exfiltrate data.
Advanced IP ScannerNetwork ScanningScans network devices, providing information that can be used to further infiltrate networks.

These tools represent a combination of legitimate software repurposed for malicious intent and specific hacking tools designed for cyber espionage and system manipulation.

The use of such tools in the Akira ransomware attacks highlights the sophistication and the level of access achieved by the attackers.

FBI and CISA Response

In response to the rising threat, the FBI and CISA have intensified their efforts to combat the spread of Akira ransomware. They urge affected organizations to report incidents to local FBI field offices or directly to CISA’s 24/7 Operations Center.

The advisory also provides detailed indicators of compromise, including malicious file hashes, which network defenders are encouraged to use to identify and mitigate potential ransomware attacks.

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Guru baran
Guru baran
Gurubaran is a co-founder of Cyber Security News and GBHackers On Security. He has 10+ years of experience as a Security Consultant, Editor, and Analyst in cybersecurity, technology, and communications.

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