Malware Goes Beyond Ancient Jigsaw
November 04, 2021

Grayson Milbourne
Carbonite + Webroot

Ransomware is no stranger to corporate networks, as it poses huge risks and even larger recovery efforts that are quite costly. Successful ransomware attacks can result in locked systems, stolen identity, data held hostage — all of which can wreak chaos and disaster to the targeted organizations.

When ransomware reaches its target, it's practically game over. The malware encrypts files and spreads to the entire system to maximize damage, which forces many companies to lock down networks to stop the propagation.

Ancient Malware - Jigsaw

While encryption is used everywhere, it's not to be confused with hashing or obfuscating files because even though they are combined, they are not the same.

■ Hashing and obfuscating techniques are helpful for evading detection tools

■ Ransomware takes your data hostage because of encryption

Each uses different types of cryptography, from modern symmetric ciphers to asymmetric ciphers with the idea being to prevent any reverse operation without a key.

Many ransomware strains display a "special note" after the encryption mandating that the only way to decrypt the files is to send bitcoins to the criminals' wallet. However, as we know, some forms of ransomware are decryptable, and the ransom does not need to be paid or the burden should not fall solely on cyber insurance. For example, an ancient malware, Jigsaw, first coined in 2016, contains the key used to encrypt files in the source code; we recently saw this type of attack surface again this year within Morse code, proving that even as malware continues to evolve, criminals will use whatever works, meaning businesses need to be aware of not just evolving threats but also old ways of attack.

Doubling Down - Ransomware Evolves

Recent attacks don't just encrypt data — the malware is also able to exfiltrate critical information before the encryption. As ransomware protection improves, especially with removal and recovery strategies, hackers are turning to using stolen data as new leverage so they can still threaten the victims if they do not pay the ransom — enter double ransomware threats.

We've recently observed threat actors adopting a ‘double extortion' model in which they encrypt the target's data and not only demand a ransom for its return but also leverage additional payment incentives to add pressure on the victim to pay the ransom. Some threat actors will even use a more targeted approach and threaten to publicly release and/or auction the data unless the victim pays up, communicating the risks of not meeting compliance within the global GDPR and the hundreds of data privacy policies and laws.Two such examples are Conti and REvil, both on our 2021 Nastiest Malware list, who have been known to publish leaked data onto dark web sites if ransoms are not paid.

To Know Your Back Up Plan is to Really Know Your Data

A critical way to improve cyber resilience — your ability to withstand attacks and ensure continued access to your data — is to have a solid backup strategy. However, efforts can become futile if organizations forget to clearly list and identify their requirements, then test their procedures regularly to prevent massive failures at the worst moments.

Data protection is all about risk mitigation and you need to ask yourself a few key questions to have the most comprehensive plan:

1. How does your data tie into your business operations or your revenue, and does the data need to be archived?

2. Does the data live in a legacy system where it might be subject to regulatory frameworks which could expose your business to penalties if data is breached?

3. What is the data your business cannot function without?

4. How long might it take to restore that data?

5. What might it cost to fully restore?

The End is Not Near

Cybercriminals will continue to refine their approaches and experiment with different business models as evolutionary ransomware attacks place enormous stress on the availability of services and data streams.

While those adversaries will, without doubt, continue to look for additional ways to put pressure on victims to maximize their chances of getting paid, you can be empowered to preserve what is most valuable to you today by deploying strong cyber resiliency practices, both now and in the future.

Grayson Milbourne is Security Intelligence Director for Carbonite + Webroot
Share this

Industry News

February 02, 2023

Red Hat announced a multi-stage alliance to offer customers a greater choice of operating systems to run on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

February 02, 2023

Snow Software announced a new global partner program designed to enable partners to support customers as they face complex market challenges around managing cost and mitigating risk, while delivering value more efficiently and effectively with Snow.

February 02, 2023

Contrast Security announced the launch of its new partner program, the Security Innovation Alliance (SIA), which is a global ecosystem of system integrators (SIs), cloud, channel and technology alliances.

February 01, 2023

Red Hat introduced new security and compliance capabilities for the Red Hat OpenShift enterprise Kubernetes platform.

February 01, 2023

Jetpack.io formally launched with Devbox Cloud, a managed service offering for Devbox.

February 01, 2023

Jellyfish launched Life Cycle Explorer, a new solution that identifies bottlenecks in the life cycle of engineering work to help teams adapt workflow processes and more effectively deliver value to customers.

January 31, 2023

Ably announced the Ably Terraform provider.

January 31, 2023

Checkmarx announced the immediate availability of Supply Chain Threat Intelligence, which delivers detailed threat intelligence on hundreds of thousands of malicious packages, contributor reputation, malicious behavior and more.

January 31, 2023

Qualys announced its new GovCloud platform along with the achievement of FedRAMP Ready status at the High impact level, from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

January 30, 2023

F5 announced the general availability of F5 NGINXaaS for Azure, an integrated solution co-developed by F5 and Microsoft that empowers enterprises to deliver secure, high-performance applications in the cloud.

January 30, 2023

Tenable announced Tenable Ventures, a corporate investment program.

January 26, 2023

Ubuntu Pro, Canonical’s comprehensive subscription for secure open source and compliance, is now generally available.

January 26, 2023

Mirantis, freeing developers to create their most valuable code, today announced that it has acquired the Santa Clara, California-based Shipa to add automated application discovery, operations, security, and observability to the Lens Kubernetes Platform.

January 25, 2023

SmartBear has integrated the powerful contract testing capabilities of PactFlow with SwaggerHub.

January 25, 2023

Venafi introduced TLS Protect for Kubernetes.