Security Experts:

FBI Warns Businesses of Egregor Ransomware Attacks

Offered under a Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) business model, the Egregor ransomware poses a great threat to businesses due to the use of double extortion, a recent private industry notification from the Federal Bureau of Investigation warns.

Initially observed by the FBI in September 2020, Egregor has claimed more than 150 victims to date, all around the world. Following network compromise, Egregor’s operators don’t just encrypt victims’ files, but also exfiltrate data, threatening to publish it online unless a ransom is paid.

The ransom note it drops on the compromised machines instructs victims to contact the operators via online chat. The threat actors demand a ransom to be paid in exchange for the exfiltrated information and a tool to recover encrypted files.

Egregor, the FBI says, is deployed by multiple individuals, meaning that tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used in attacks are varied and that defending against these attacks is challenging.

The ransomware’s operators were observed targeting business networks as well as employee personal accounts. Phishing emails carrying malicious attachments may be used, but Egregor would also exploit Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for initial access.

Furthermore, the threat actors behind Egregor may also leverage its RDP exploitation capability to move laterally inside the compromised networks.

Following initial access, pen testing and exploit tools are employed for privilege escalation and lateral movement. Some of these include Advanced IP Scanner, AdFind, Cobalt Strike, and Qakbot/Qbot. Utilities such as Rclone and 7zip are abused for data exfiltration.

Ransomware victims should not pay the ransom, as this encourages adversaries to target additional organizations and may attract more wannabe criminals to ransomware distribution, the FBI says.

“Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered. However, the FBI understands that when businesses are faced with an inability to function, executives will evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers,” the industry notification reads.

Ransomware victims are encouraged to report the incidents, so that the FBI can gather data to prevent further attacks.

To mitigate ransomware attacks, organizations should keep data back-ups offline or in the cloud, secure these back-ups, use up-to-date security tools, ensure only secure networks are in use, enable two-factor authentication, prioritize patching, and review suspicious files and activity.

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