Vulnerabilities / Threats

4/11/2016
06:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Imagining The Ransomware Of The Future

Cisco Talos Lab paints a dark picture of what ransomware could have in store next.

Ransomware that can encrypt and lock 800 of your organization's servers, 3,200 workstations, and the vast majority of your data...in one hour flat. That's the nightmare that researchers at Cisco Talos Labs described in a report today: a self-propagating, stealthy, modular ransomware that can move laterally across internal networks and cross air-gapped systems.

In addition to the standard core ransomware functionality, Cisco Talos' hypothesized "King's Ransom framework" has a variety of modules for both stealth and propagation.

Gain insight into the latest threats and emerging best practices for managing them. Attend the Security Track at Interop Las Vegas, May 2-6. Register now!

To avoid detection, "king's ransom" would have a rate limiter module -- to prevent the code from eating up too many system resources and therefore attracting the user's unwanted attention. In this framework, the ransomware would also eschew the traditional command-and-control infrastructure; it would instead transmit a beacon, containing global unique IDs (GUIDs), to a C2 domain via common protocols like HTTP or DNS. This domain could then collect these GUIDs, and use them to monitor and manage stats about infection rates.

The framework would contain modules for propagating through a variety of vectors. With a file infector module, the ransomware would attempt to add itself to other executables already residing on the infected system, which would both help the code spread and re-infect the system if it's somehow ejected.

With a USB mass-storage propagator, the ransomware would copy itself to mapped drives, and be configured to automatically connect and run; it could thus cross air-gapped systems. Authentication infrastructure exploits (similar to mimkatz) would enable the attacker to gain admin privileges to a variety of systems and domains. An RFC 1918 target address-limiter would be used to attack targets using RFC addresses -- used by internal networks, as opposed to Internet-wide. 

In the devastating scenario Cisco proposes, the ransomware takes over up to 800 servers, 3,200 workstations, half the digital assets and the "vast majority" of data in an organization within the first hour of infection. The attackers request a $1 million ransom, which will automatically increase to $3 million eight days later.

Will organizations pay such a steep price, even after such an extensive infection? Cisco Talos Labs says that depends upon a number of factors, such as the value of the data they cannot access and their ability to restore that data. Do they have sufficient off-site backups that were not affected? Can they do manual restoration of data, and if so, how much will that cost, in comparison to the cost of the ransom?  

Although it's just theory now, the quickly increasing sophistication of ransomware makes it all too believable.

Related Content:

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Azathoth
50%
50%
Azathoth,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/14/2016 | 10:10:55 AM
Protection Money
What happens when ransomware becomes protectionware?  Instead of one payment you have to make regular "protection" payments to keep your data from being relocked?
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
4/12/2016 | 7:45:55 AM
Cloud concern
This is my real concern when it comes to the growth of cloud computing also. By storing all data in singular locations, we run the risk of millions of people being affected in one fell swoop. 

For starters, I hope companies are paying attention and have insurance to cover the mass encryption of customer data, but also I want to see new measures put in place to protect against this kind of attack. Cold storage data that is backed up regularly, but hardware disconnected from the internet otherwise. 
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2016-10739
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-21
In the GNU C Library (aka glibc or libc6) through 2.28, the getaddrinfo function would successfully parse a string that contained an IPv4 address followed by whitespace and arbitrary characters, which could lead applications to incorrectly assume that it had parsed a valid string, without the possib...
CVE-2019-6499
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-21
Teradata Viewpoint before 14.0 and 16.20.00.02-b80 contains a hardcoded password of TDv1i2e3w4 for the viewpoint database account (in viewpoint-portal\conf\server.xml) that could potentially be exploited by malicious users to compromise the affected system.
CVE-2019-6500
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-21
In Axway File Transfer Direct 2.7.1, an unauthenticated Directory Traversal vulnerability can be exploited by issuing a specially crafted HTTP GET request with %2e instead of '.' characters, as demonstrated by an initial /h2hdocumentation//%2e%2e/ substring.
CVE-2019-6498
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-21
GattLib 0.2 has a stack-based buffer over-read in gattlib_connect in dbus/gattlib.c because strncpy is misused.
CVE-2019-6497
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-20
Hotels_Server through 2018-11-05 has SQL Injection via the controller/fetchpwd.php username parameter.