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Resurgence in Ransomware Being Driven By a Surge of New Malware Families


A US based cyber security firm through its most recent threat report observed a 118% increase in new Ransomware strains basically in the first quarter of 2019 as compared with the last of 2018. It believes that the resurgence in ransomware is being driven by a flood of new malware families that are regularly more focused on.

The firm discovered that attackers were targeting the governments and organizations which were followed by companies in the financial, chemical, defence and education sectors. Their information corresponded with an ever expanding number of ransomware attacks standing out as truly newsworthy, especially US governments and urban communities, very much like the Texas Ransomware attack.

This new spate of ransomware attacks is said to have been a move away from 'spray and pray' ransomware strategies, in such targeted attacks, spear phishing – sending vindictive emails from an "apparently trusted person"  – is progressively being utilized to gain initial access 68% of the time.

Attackers are likewise said to have been utilizing unknown email services to oversee the ransomware crusades. The most widely recognized groups of ransomware during this period are known to be Dharma (otherwise called Crysis), GrandCrab and Ryuk.

In any case, McAfee, made some amazing disclosures also, first the cyber security firm found that culprits are turning to various attack approaches with regards to coin mining malware, like the CookieMiner malware focusing on Apple users.

Furthermore, also, it found an average of 504 'new threats per minute' in the first quarter of 2019 and noticed that more than 2.2 billion stolen account credentials were made accessible on the cybercriminal underground during the same period.

Its discoveries depend on the information accumulated from its Global Threat Intelligence cloud,, which comprises of over a billion sensors checking for different sorts of cyber dangers around the globe.

Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist, stresses on the fact that the impact of these threats is very real and added further that “It’s important to recognise that the numbers, highlighting increases or decreases of certain types of attacks, only tell a fraction of the story. Every infection is another business dealing with outages, or a consumer-facing major fraud. And we must not forget that for every cyber-attack, there is a human cost.”

Attackers demand $2.5 million for Texas Ransomeware




The cybercriminals who attacked multiple Texas local governments with file-encrypting malware via compromising service provider's network.

The attackers demanded a ransom of $2.5 million for decrypting the entire local government files, the mayor of a municipality says.

The Department of Information Resources (DIR) has announced that a total of 22 victims has been established, while all of them were attacked by a single party.

However, the names of all the victim municipalities have not been disclosed, whereas two municipalities have announced the hit publicly.

In a statement released by the city of Borger, "Based on the current state of the forensic investigation, it appears that no customer credit card or other personal information on the City of Borger’s systems have been compromised in this attack. No further information about the origins of the attack will be released until the completion of the investigation,"

Keene is another city affected by this ransomware attack. Both of the administration right now can not process card payments or utility disconnections.

The city will inform its citizen as soon as they restart business and financial services, press release. 

New MegaCortex ransomware targeting corporate networks

A new strain of ransomware called MegaCortex has been found targeting attacks against entities in the US, Canada, France, Netherlands, Ireland, and Italy. The ransomware uses both automated as well as manual components in an effort to infect as many victims as possible. It uses a complicated chain of events with some infections beginning with stolen credentials for domain controllers inside target networks.

The ransomware was reported by UK cyber-security firm Sophos after it detected a spike in ransomware attacks at the end of last week.

According to security researchers at Sophos, the cybercriminals operating the ransomware appear to be fans of the movie Matrix, as the ransom note “reads like it was written in the voice and cadence of Lawrence Fishburne’s character, Morpheus.”

The ransomware first began popping up in January. The ransomware has a few interesting attributes, including its use of a signed executable as part of the payload, and an offer of security consulting services from the malware author. Researchers said the ransomware often is present on networks that already are infected with the Emotet and Qakbot malware, but are not sure whether those tools are part of the delivery chain for MegaCortex.

Sophos said the ransomware appears to have been designed to target large enterprise networks as part of carefully planned targeted intrusions --in a tactic that is known as "big-game hunting."

“The malware also employs the use of a long batch file to terminate running programs and kill a large number of services, many of which appear to be related to security or protection, which is becoming a common theme among current-generation ransomware families,” Sophos researcher Andrew Brandt said in a report.

Ransomware, for the most part, targets individuals rather than enterprise networks. That has mainly to do with individuals being relatively easier targets than corporate machines, but some attackers have begun to move up the food chain. Corporate ransomware infections can be much more profitable and efficient, with larger payouts for criminals who can compromise an organization rather than dozens or hundreds of individual victims. MegaCortex seems to be part of that trend, targeting enterprises with a mix of techniques.

London hackers may be behind ransomware attack on Lucknow hotel

In a first-of-its-kind ransomware attack in Lucknow, cybercriminals breached and blocked the computer system of The Piccadily, a five-star hotel in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, and demanded a ransom to allow data access. Ransomware is a malware unleashed into the system by a hacker that blocks access to owners till ransom is paid.

The hotel management lodged an FIR with the cyber cell of police and also roped in private cyber detectives to probe the crime and suggest a remedy.

The hotel’s finance controller in Alambagh, Jitendra Kumar Singh, lodged an FIR on March 9, stating the staff at the hotel was unable to access the computer system on February 27 around 11:45 pm when they were updating monthly business data. This was followed by screen pop-ups which read — Oops, your important files are encrypted. The staff initially ignored the pop-ups and rebooted the system following which it crashed. Later, the hotel management engaged a software engineer to track down the malfunction after which it came to light the system has been hit by ransomware.

Nodal officer of the cyber cell deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Abhay Mishra said the case happens to be first of its kind of ransomware attack in the city. The demand for ransom in such cases are also made through ‘Bitcoin’, he said. “They are investigating into the matter, but are yet to make any breakthrough,” Singh told TOI. The staff initially ignored the pop-ups and rebooted the system following which it crashed.

The cyber cell of Lucknow police believes the ransomware attack could have been made from London. Sleuths of the cyber cell made these claims after authorities of the Piccadily said they had been getting frequent phone calls from London-based number after the attack.

Singh said, “We received for calls from the same number a day after the attack. The callers inquired about the ransomware attack and asked about the progress in the case. Later, they also agreed to offer assistance.”

Cybercriminals disturbing air traffic




Travelling via air has always been the most preferred and fastest option available to us at any given time but have we ever given a thought whether it is the safest in every context technical and cyber?

Never mind the technical mishaps that happen when least expected the accidents that occur are rare but shocking and terrible but are we aware of the dangers related to flying in the light of cyber security?

As we probably are aware, cybercriminals are driven for the most part by their thirst for money and power—and disturbing the air traffic and airport regulation helps they satisfy it. While the dominant part of these cyber security occurrences result in data breaks, but: Attacks on this imperative framework could prompt significantly more inauspicious outcomes.

Associations like the ATO and EUROCONTROL deal with the air traffic across continents, connecting with business and military bodies to control the coordination and planning of air traffic in their assigned region. These associations work firmly together, as there are numerous intercontinental flights that move across from one area then onto the next they respond quite rapidly to such episodes.
These Aviation control organisations require immaculate correspondence to work legitimately, as they are essential to keeping up the normal stream of air traffic. 

Along these lines, their related frameworks are intensely computerized which makes them the primary targets for the said cyber-attacks.

However apart from Air Traffic there are a lot more factors as well that have a specific negative effect on the transportation service. Some of the major ones being terrorist attacks, ransomeware attacks, targeted cyber-attacks in addition to the budget concerns.

Terrorists have hijacked Aircrafts before, the most known incident being 9/11, where the terrorists infiltrated onto four different air crafts, disabled the pilots. Anyway these physical, in-person hijacks are the reason behind the broad safety measures that we all experience at each major air terminal.

Despite the fact that these hijackers don't need to be physically present to cause such immense harm. As exhibited before, air crafts can be hacked remotely and malware can contaminate computer frameworks in the air crafts as well.

What's more, similar to some other industry, we likewise find numerous ransomware victims in the avionics and air traffic sector. The most popular one being air and express freight carrier FedEx that surprisingly has been a ransomeware victim twice: once through their TNT division hit by NotPetya, and once in their own conveyance unit by WannaCry.

When turning towards targeted cyberattacks the most fitting precedent is that of the IT system of Boryspil International Airport, situated in the Ukraine, which purportedly incorporated the airport's air traffic regulation system. Because of rough relations among Ukraine and Russia, attribution immediately swerved to BlackEnergy, a Russian APT group considered responsible of numerous cyberattacks on the country.

Lastly, "Where budgets are concerned, cybersecurity is treated reactively instead of proactively.
In 2017, the Air Traffic Control Aviation (ATCA) published a white paper issuing this warning as in a 2016 report by the Ponemon Institute discovered that the associations did not budget for the technical, administrative, testing, and review activities that are important to appropriately operate a  secure framework.

Bearing these factors in mind while the physical security on airports have been increased fundamentally, it appears that the cyber security of this essential framework still needs a considerable amount of work and attention, particularly remembering the sheer number of cyber-attacks on the industry that have occurred over the most recent couple of years.

The excrement will undoubtedly hit the propeller if the air traffic and cargo enterprises yet again fail to incorporate cybersecurity in their financial plan and structure propositions for the coming year.

Malware Stealing Credentials via Office Documents



Recently the threat actors in charge of the AZORult malware released a refreshed variant with upgrades on both the stealer and the downloader functionalities. This was altogether done within a day after the new version had released a dark web user AZORult in a large Email campaign to circulate the Hermes ransomware.

The new campaign with the updated adaptation of AZORult is in charge of conveying thousands of messages focusing on North America with subjects, such as, "About a role" or "Job Application" and even contains the weaponized office document "firstname.surname_resume.doc” attached to it.




Researchers said, “The recent update to AZORult includes substantial upgrades to malware that was already well-established in both the email and web-based threat landscapes.”

Attackers have made use of the password-protected documents keeping in mind the end goal to avoid the antivirus detections. Once the client enters the password for documents, it requests to enable macros which thusly download the AZORult, and at that point it connects with the C&C server from the already infected machine and the C&C server responds with the XOR-encoded 3-byte key. 

Finally after exfiltrating stolen credentials from the infected machine, it additionally downloads the Hermes 2.1 ransomware.

Security analysts from Proofpoint even recognized the new version (3.2) of AZORult malware publicized in the underground forum with full changelog.

UPD v3.2
[+] Added stealing of history from browsers (except IE and Edge)
[+] Added support for cryptocurrency wallets: Exodus, Jaxx, Mist, Ethereum, Electrum, Electrum-LTC
[+] Improved loader. Now supports unlimited links. In the admin panel, you can specify the rules for how the loader works. For example: if there are cookies or saved passwords from mysite.com, then download and run the file link[.]Com/soft.exe. Also, there is a rule “If there is data from cryptocurrency wallets” or “for all”
[+] Stealer can now use system proxies. If a proxy is installed on the system, but there is no connection through it, the stealer will try to connect directly (just in case)
[+] Reduced the load in the admin panel.
[+] Added to the admin panel a button for removing “dummies”, i.e. reports without useful information
[+] Added to the admin panel guest statistics
[+] Added to the admin panel a geobase

As indicated by the scientists, the malware campaign contains both the password stealer as well as the ransomware, which is astounding on the grounds that it is not so common to see both. Therefore, before causing a ransomware attack, the stealer would check for cryptocurrency wallets and steal the accreditations before the files are encrypted.

An Experimental Form of Android Malware Delivers a Banking Trojan, a Keylogger and Ransomware




An experimental form of Android malware, which was first considered to be an updated version of Lokibot, is known to convey a banking Trojan, a keylogger and ransomware to those most likely to succumb to it.

It is said to contain a couple of new features that the specialists are naming it as a yet another type of malware - MysteryBot.

The MysteryBot and the LokiBot are referred to share the same command as well as the control server which in this way shows an already established strong link between these two types of malware, with the potential that they've been produced by the same attacker.

"The enhanced overlay attacks also running on the latest Android versions combined with advanced keylogging and the potential under-development features will allow MysteryBot to harvest a broad set of personal identifiable information in order to perform fraud," wrote researchers.

While the MysteryBot is well equipped for performing various pernicious exercises, like making a phone call, stealing contact information, forwarding the incoming calls to another device, setting the keylogger, it is also capable of encoding the files possessed by the device and erases all contact information on the device.

It has the ability to effectively target Android versions 7 and 8 utilizing overlay screens intended to look like genuine bank websites, while numerous other Android malware families are focusing on attacking the older variants of the Google operating system.

Is additionally said to use a somewhat complex keylogging functionality that was never known and it supposedly employees two other banking Trojan's keylogging Module (CryEye and Anubis) to abuse the Android Accessibility service.

Be that as it may, notwithstanding a portion of the abilities of MysteryBot presently being underdeveloped, the malware is as yet a potential danger.


MysteryBot isn't at present widespread and is still being worked on, however it is recommended that the users ought to be careful about any applications they download which requests an over the top number of authorizations.

Ransomware Attack from Russian IP’s jeopardizes the Victims and Locks Their PC’s



A Newfound Ransomware by the name of Sigma is known to be spreading from Russia-based IP's with the assortment of social engineering procedures in order to jeopardize the victims and lock the contagion computer.

User's that were targeted on through the malignant SPAM Messages that contained a proclamation originated from the "United States District Court" with a pernicious attachment.


Presently the attackers utilizing the Email scam so as to make sure that the targeted victims perform the diverse malicious activities all the while manipulating the user by some emergency strings of dread and giving rise to the victim’s inquisitiveness.The Sigma Ransomware Attack directed from around 32 Russian based IP's and the attacker enlisted in the particular domain which is specifically utilized to perform different attacks.

The creators of the Malware utilized more obfuscation works by asking for the password to open the file and avoid the discovery.At first, the malignant documents required a password to open since it tricks the user to download the attachment that ought to be protected since the mail is originated from the court.

In the event that it finds that the Macros are turned off on the victim's machine then it further convinces the users to turn it on which contains malevolent VBScript.

Then, the VBScript will download the first Sigma Ransomware payload from the attack summon, control server and save it in the %TEMP% folder.Downloaded malware emulates as a legit svchost.exe process which assists in downloading an additional malware.

The Malware utilized a variety of obscurity strategy to conceal it and sidestep the discovery and it revokes itself on the off chance that it finds any virtual machine or sandboxes present.

 "Looking with malware so complex on the sides, social engineering traps and technical design is a challenge hard even for even security-mindful users," says Fatih Orhan, the Head of Comodo Threat Research Labs.

As indicated by the Comodo Research, uncommon to a portion of its ransomware relatives, Sigma does not act promptly but rather sneaks and makes secretive observations first. It makes a rundown of important documents, checks them and sends this incentive to its C&C server alongside other data 
about the victim's machine.

Likewise if the sigma Ransomware finds no files then it erases itself and it stops the infection in the event that it finds the country location of Russian Alliance or Ukraine. Later it associates with its order and control servers and builds up the Tor Connection and Sigma Ransomware begins to encode documents on the machine.

After the complete encryption, it will show the ransom notes of that contains the definite and detailed data of the attack and the request of the attack to the victims   to get in touch with them by means of sigmacs@protonmail.com and furthermore mentioning the infection ID.

Additionally, the attack demands the payoff sum through bitcoin and the cost will be settled in view of how instantly the victims contact to the attack.