Friday, May 24, 2024

Multistage RA World Ransomware Exploits Group Policy Infrastructure

The RA World ransomware, previously known as the RA Group, has been a significant threat to organizations worldwide since its emergence in April 2023.

Focusing on the healthcare and financial sectors, ransomware has predominantly targeted entities in the United States while also affecting organizations in Germany, India, and Taiwan.

Industries affected by RA World ransomware based on the group’s leak site
Industries affected by RA World ransomware based on the group’s leak site (source: Trend Micro)
Countries affected by RA World ransomware based on the group’s leak site
Countries affected by RA World ransomware based on the group’s leak site (source: Trend Micro)

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Initial Access: The Entry Point

RA World operators commence their attack by compromising domain controllers and deploying their malicious components into the SYSVOL share path for a machine Group Policy Object (GPO), setting the stage for a widespread attack within the organization’s network.

The RA World attack chain
The RA World attack chain (source: Trend Micro)

The attackers leverage a PowerShell script to execute Stage1.exe, indicating a modification in Group Policy settings to allow such actions.

This strategic placement within the Group Policy infrastructure suggests deliberate tampering to include the malicious payload, enabling its execution across multiple machines during Group Policy processing.

Lateral Movement: Spreading Across the Network

Stage1.exe plays a crucial role in identifying and validating domain controllers, setting conditions for further actions based on the presence of specific files, and proceeding to deploy Stage2.exe across the network.

Stage1.exe checks if the conditions are met before proceeding
Stage1.exe checks if the conditions are met before proceeding (source: Trend Micro)

This step signifies a targeted attack strategy, emphasizing the use of Group Policies for spreading the ransomware.

A recent analysis by the Trend Micro threat hunting team has unveiled a sophisticated multistage attack targeting healthcare organizations in Latin America. The attack showcases the group’s methodical approach to maximizing the impact of its operations.

The global attack of RA World Ransomware Cyber Alert has increased, as reported by Ensar Seke – a cyber researcher, in a recent tweet.

Persistence and Defense Evasion Techniques

The attackers ensure their presence within the compromised system by creating a new service and manipulating the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) to enable Safe Mode with Networking.

These actions and registry modifications highlight the ransomware’s ability to persist and evade detection.

Upon successful deployment, Stage3.exe encrypts data and drops a ransom note, employing extortion tactics by listing recent victims unable to pay the ransom.

This stage underscores the ransomware’s ultimate goal: To coerce payment from its victims.

Anti-AV Measures and System Manipulation

RA World operators deploy scripts to disable antivirus measures and manipulate system settings, including wiping specific directories and removing Safe Mode options. This culminates in a forced system reboot.

These actions demonstrate the ransomware’s comprehensive approach to evading detection and ensuring its payload’s effectiveness.

The RA World ransom note
The RA World ransom note (source: Trend Micro)

The leakage of Babuk ransomware’s source code has facilitated the emergence of new threat actors, including RA World.

This incident highlights the ongoing challenges in the cybersecurity landscape, where source code leaks enable less technically skilled criminals to launch sophisticated ransomware attacks.

Recommendations and Solutions for Organizations

To mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks, organizations are advised to employ best practices such as limiting administrative rights, updating security products, conducting regular backups, and educating users on potential threats.

A multi-layered security approach, including solutions like Trend Vision One™ and Trend Micro Apex One™, can significantly enhance an organization’s defense against such threats. 

This article synthesizes the provided information into a structured news piece.

For actual images and references, one would typically include links to reputable sources or embed pictures directly related to the content, such as screenshots of the ransomware’s notes or graphical representations of its attack chain.

With Perimeter81 malware protection, you can block malware, including Trojans, ransomware, spyware, rootkits, worms, and zero-day exploits. All are incredibly harmful and can wreak havoc on your network.

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Divya is a Senior Journalist at GBhackers covering Cyber Attacks, Threats, Breaches, Vulnerabilities and other happenings in the cyber world.

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