A data theft tool used by the ransomware group tracked as BlackCat, ALPHV and Noberus, suggests that the cybercriminals are increasingly interested in targeting industrial organizations.
The BlackCat ransomware group, which operates under a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model, emerged in November 2021 and has since targeted organizations worldwide, including many in the United States.
Several cybersecurity firms have found links between BlackCat and the BlackMatter and DarkSide ransomware operations. It appears that the BlackCat team consists of various RaaS group affiliates, including BlackMatter, rather than being a rebranding of BlackMatter.
In a blog post published on Thursday, Kaspersky also provided information on the connection between BlackMatter and BlackCat, focusing on a data exfiltration tool called Fendr and ExMatter.
Fendr was described by Symantec last year as a custom data exfiltration tool that enabled BlackMatter operators to easily steal data of value from compromised systems. The tool, previously seen only in BlackMatter attacks, is designed to collect specific file types and upload them to the cybercriminals’ servers before file-encrypting ransomware is deployed. The stolen data can then be used to pressure the victim into paying up.
In a recent BlackCat attack on an oil, gas, mining and construction firm in South America, the hackers deployed a version of the Fendr tool. However, compared to the tool spotted in BlackMatter attacks, this one had targeted some additional file types, specifically ones that are typically found in industrial environments.
“These additional file extensions are used in industrial design applications, like CAD drawings and some databases, as well as RDP configuration settings, making the tool more customized towards the industrial environments that we see being targeted by this group,” Kaspersky explained.
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The fact that a ransomware gang is interested in industrial companies is not surprising, and both governments and cybersecurity firms have been warning organizations that ransomware poses an increasing threat to industrial systems.
In a report published in February, industrial cybersecurity firm Claroty said ransomware often hits industrial control systems (ICS) or other operational technology (OT) environments, and impact is often significant.
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