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Ransomware found exploiting former Windows flaw

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Kaspersky have uncovered new encryption ransomware named Sodin (Sodinokibi or REvil) that exploits a recently discovered Windows vulnerability to get elevated privileges in an infected system. The ransomware takes advantage of the architecture of the central processing unit (CPU) to avoid detection - functionality that is not often seen in ransomware.

"Ransomware is a very popular type of malware, yet it's not often that we see such an elaborate and sophisticated version: using the CPU architecture to fly under the radar is not a common practice for encryptors," said Fedor Sinitsyn, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

"We expect a rise in the number of attacks involving the Sodin encryptor, since the amount of resources that are required to build such malware is significant. Those who invested in the malware's development definitely expect if to pay off handsomely," Sinitsyn added.

The researchers found that most targets of Sodin ransomware were found in the Asian region: 17.6 percent of attacks have been detected in Taiwan, 9.8 percent in Hong Kong and 8.8 percent in the Republic of Korea.

However, attacks have also been observed in Europe, North America and Latin America, Kaspersky said, adding that the ransomware note left on infected PCs demands $2500 worth of Bitcoin from each victim.

The vulnerability CVE-2018-8453 that the ransomware uses was earlier found to be exploited by the FruityArmor hacking group. The vulnerability was patched on October 10, 2018, Kaspersky said.

To avoid falling victim to Sodin threats, make sure that the software used in your company is regularly updated to the most recent versions, said Kaspersky researchers.

Security products with vulnerability assessment and patch management capabilities may help to automate these processes, they added.

Ransomware tool causing chaos in Baltimore was developed by NSA



A recent spate of ransomware attacks in Baltimore and other U.S. cities has been executed using a tool developed by the National Security Agency (NSA). Thousands of people in Baltimore have been locked out of their computers in the past three weeks, causing disruption across the city. And this has been enabled by a piece of software created by the NSA, according to a report in the New York Times.
The EternalBlue exploit takes advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows machines to infiltrate target computers. The software was stolen from the NSA and leaked by hackers in 2017, and since then has been used in a wide variety of cybercrinimal schemes. 2017’s WannaCry attack used the software, as did Russia’s NotPetya attack on Ukraine last year.
Now the same software is being used against U.S. citizens, causing particular problems for local governments with machines which have been disrupted. Many local governments do not regularly update their computers, leaving them vulnerable to exploits. In Baltimore, hospitals, airports, ATMs, shipping operators, and vaccine-producing factories have all been effected in the last few weeks.
The software locks the target computer’s screen, then shows a message demanding a payment of around $100,000 in Bitcoin for the target to regain access to their files. “We’ve watching you for days,” the message says, according to The Baltimore Sun. “We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up!”
The NSA has never acknowledged the theft of the software or its responsibility for the cyberattacks conducted using it.
“The government has refused to take responsibility, or even to answer the most basic questions,” Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University, said to the Times. “Congressional oversight appears to be failing. The American people deserve an answer.”
EternalBlue may have been developed with good intentions to protect national security, but this event shows the problems with law enforcement or intelligence agencies having tools which allow them access to computers and phones. When such a tool is leaked, it can no longer be controlled.