Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security //

Ransomware

1/3/2019
09:35 AM
Scott Ferguson
Scott Ferguson
News Analysis-Security Now
50%
50%

Ryuk Ransomware Tied to Printing Press & Cloud Service Provider Attacks

A series of cyber attacks over the holiday week that targeted newspaper printing presses and a cloud service provider are tied to a specific strain of ransomware called Ryuk.

A series of cyber attacks between Christmas and New Year's Day that targeted businesses ranging from newspaper printing presses to a cloud service provider are being tied to a specific strain of ransomware called Ryuk.

The attacks first came to light on Thursday, December 27, when ransomware hit the printing presses of the Tribune Publishing company. Tribune not only prints its own newspapers, but contracts with other companies, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

It appears the attack started when editors of the San Diego Union-Tribune attempted to send updates to the paper's sports section late in the day, according to the Las Angeles Times, which was also affected by the attack. The ransomware appears to have locked up the various computer systems, although it's not clear if the attackers sought any ransom.

A screenshot of the ransomware email noted the words "RyukReadMe" on the note, according to the Times.

Then, on Wednesday, January 2, journalist Brian Krebs reported that Data Resolution, which provides cloud and other hosting services for about 30,000 customers, was also hit with the Ryuk ransomware.

In his report, Krebs noted that the company discovered the ransomware within its data center, when the malware locked up some systems for a short time. It does not appear that customer data was compromised, although Data Resolution is working on restoring systems after they were shut down to prevent the malware from spreading any further.

While other types of ransomware are spread through phishing emails and exploit kits, Ryuk is much more targeted, specifically encrypting critical systems within a network, according to Check Point Research, which published a detailed analysis of the malware in August.

Although Ryuk attacks have mainly focused on small-scale operations, the group behind it has managed to collect about $640,000 in ransom, mainly in Bitcoin, since it was first detected. In addition, there are similarities between Ryuk and another ransomware called HERMES, which means that the malware likely originated with the Lazarus Group, a North Korea-backed Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group that is better known for the Sony Pictures attack, as well as WannaCry. (See APTs in 2018: A Mix of Old & New.)

In several ways, Ryuk is similar to SamSam, another ransomware strain that used targeted methods, as opposed to WannaCry, which spread much further using techniques such as phishing. (See Iranian Hackers Charged With Creating SamSam Ransomware.)

Although ransomware attacks declined between 2017 and 2018, many security experts believe that this type of malware remains a potent security threat to enterprises, especially as methods of attack become more sophisticated. (See Ransomware, New Privacy Laws Are Top Security Concerns for 2019.)

Additionally, the use of ransomware to target cloud service providers is a trend that the security community has started to take notice of recently. When the US Justice Department charged two Chinese nationals with belonging to the APT10 Group in December, one of the main targets included a service provider. (See Justice Department Ties 2 Chinese Nationals to Notorious APT10 Group.)

Rishi Bhargava, a co-founder of Demisto, a security automation and orchestration and response firm, noted in an email to Security Now that cloud service providers offer a wide attack surface for attackers to target.

"Specifically, the wide surface over which cloud resources are allocated leads to a 'visibility problem' and attackers can target systems that fall under the security radar," Bhargava wrote.

Bhargava added that the vast amount of data that these managed service and cloud providers collect also make them tempting targets, especially by locking up systems and platforms used by multiple customers.

"Another problem inherent to security attacks on cloud providers is the wealth of sensitive company data available for compromise after a well-targeted attack," Bhargava added. "Fortunately, it seems like data theft wasn't on the attackers' agenda in the Data Resolution attack. But since the databases are still being cleaned and backups are being restored, we'll have to wait and hope that users don't suffer long-lasting repercussions."

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson is the managing editor of Light Reading and the editor of Security Now. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Introducing 'Secure Access Service Edge'
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  7/3/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5604
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-09
Android App 'Mercari' (Japan version) prior to version 3.52.0 allows arbitrary method execution of a Java object by a remoto attacker via a Man-In-The-Middle attack by using Java Reflection API of JavaScript code on WebView.
CVE-2020-5974
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
NVIDIA JetPack SDK, version 4.2 and 4.3, contains a vulnerability in its installation scripts in which permissions are incorrectly set on certain directories, which can lead to escalation of privileges.
CVE-2020-15072
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
An issue was discovered in phpList through 3.5.4. An error-based SQL Injection vulnerability exists via the Import Administrators section.
CVE-2020-15073
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
An issue was discovered in phpList through 3.5.4. An XSS vulnerability occurs within the Import Administrators section via upload of an edited text document. This also affects the Subscriber Lists section.
CVE-2020-2034
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-08
An OS Command Injection vulnerability in the PAN-OS GlobalProtect portal allows an unauthenticated network based attacker to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges. An attacker requires some knowledge of the firewall to exploit this issue. This issue can not be exploited if GlobalProtect...