Friday, December 1, 2023

Ransomware Actors Exploiting Legitimate System Tools to Gain Access – FBI

Ransomware attacks are on the rise, causing organizations to lose millions of dollars, restricting them from accessing their data, and possibly disclosing personal information.

According to the FBI Private Industry Notification, ransomware attackers have recently been taking advantage of flaws in vendor-controlled remote access to casino servers. These attackers have hurt businesses by using legal system management tools to gain more access to the network.

In response to these new activity trends, the FBI advises organizations to take action to strengthen their security posture.

The FBI keeps track of reports of third-party vendors and services being used as a point of attack for ransomware attacks. In particular, between 2022 and 2023, they also noticed ransomware attacks that affected casinos through third-party gaming vendors.

Small and tribal casinos were regularly the target of the attacks, which encrypted servers and the personally identifying information (PII) of employees and patrons.

As of June 2023, the Luna Moth, known as the Silent Ransom Group (SRG), was conducting callbackphishing data theft, and extortion attacks. 

Typically, the phishing effort would involve the victim receiving a phone number related to pending charges on their account. 

After the victims dialed the number provided, the malicious actors sent them a follow-up email with a link to join a legitimate system management tool. 

The threat actors then utilized the management tools to install other legitimate system management tools that can be reused for malicious activity. Once the network shared drives and local files were compromised, the actors stole victim data and extorted the companies.

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Recommendations from the FBI

Identity and Access Management:

  • Require all accounts with password logins.
  • Phishing-resistant multifactor authentication.
  • Review domain controllers, servers, workstations, and active directories
  • Audit user accounts
  • Implement time-based access for accounts set at the admin level and higher.

Protective Controls and Architecture:

  • Segment networks to prevent the spread of ransomware.
  • Using a networking monitoring tool, locate, identify, and look at unusual behavior and possible malware traversal.
  • Install, regularly update, and enable real time detection for antivirus software.
  • Secure and closely monitor remote desktop protocol (RDP) use.

Vulnerability and Configuration Management:

  • Keep all operating systems, software, and firmware up to date.
  • Disable unused ports. 
  • Adding an email banner to emails received from outside your organization
  • Disable ports and protocols that are unused.
  • Restrict Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol within the network.

The FBI tells network defenders to take the necessary steps to lower the risk of ransomware attacks and to limit the use of common system and network discovery techniques that could be used for bad purposes.

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BALAJI is an Ex-Security Researcher (Threat Research Labs) at Comodo Cybersecurity. Editor-in-Chief & Co-Founder - Cyber Security News & GBHackers On Security.

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