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.

Cloud

5/28/2015
03:55 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

'Tox' Offers Ransomware As A Service

The ransomware is free to use but site retains 20 percent of any ransom that is collected, McAfee researcher says.

The ready availability of packaged easy-to-use malware kits in underground markets has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for aspiring cybercriminals, and now they have one more tool option.

A researcher at Intel's McAfee Labs has unearthed what amounts to a ransomware-as-a-service kit for building and deploying ransomware. Dubbed "Tox," the kit requires very little technical skills to use and appears designed to let almost anyone deploy ransomware in three easy steps.

Jim Walter, the director of advanced threat research for Intel Security said he stumbled across Tox earlier this month when sifting through a stream of  dark web data. In the days since then, the site hosting the malware kit has been updated with a new FAQ and design. But the core functionality has remained the same, Walter said in a post.

Tox is free to set up and use. But the catch is that the site hosting the kit retains 20% of any ransom that is paid by victims to attackers who use the software.

Tox runs on the Tor network and is set up to receive payments via Bitcoin, allowing for some degree of anonymity for the attackers, Walter said. The malware works as advertised, so people can use it to essentially encrypt data on victim computers and demand a ransom in return for unencrypting it.

"Out of the gate, the standard of antimalware evasion is fairly high, meaning the malware's targets would need additional controls in place," such as host intrusion prevention, whitelisting and sandboxing to catch or prevent Tox, Walter wrote.

What makes Tox interesting is just how easy it is for almost anybody to use it. Would-be cybercriminals have to simply register with the site, enter the ransom amount they want into the specified filed, submit a "cause" for launching the attack, and correctly guess the CAPTCHA.

The three-step process creates a malicious 2MB executable file disguised as a screensaver file, which users can distribute to victims of their choice.

When the malware is executed, it downloads the CURL command-line tool and a TOR client on the infected system. Once the malware encrypts all the contents on the target computer, it serves up a standard ransomware message instructing the victim to pay a fine in Bitcoins for the data to be unencrypted.

A screenshot of the message posted on Walter’s blog shows it provides detailed information on how the victim can buy Bitcoins and where to submit the payment. It tells victims to expect their data to be decrypted in about two hours after ransom payment typically, and provides a link where they can get help if the data is not decrypted after the ransom has been paid.

"You can also spam this mailbox with useless stuff or wishing me death, so that mail sent from real people who actually need help won't be read," the message informs victims.

The Tox site monitors all the installs and any money paid by the victims. In order to receive money, the Tox user has to supply a receiving Bitcoin address.

From a technical standpoint, Vox's code appears to lack much sophistication and efficiency and contains several identifying strings within the code, McAfee's Walter said.  But it is easy to use and fully functional. Expect to see more sophisticated encryption and evasion techniques used in similar tools going forward, he said.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
How a Manufacturing Firm Recovered from a Devastating Ransomware Attack
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/20/2019
TeamViewer Admits Breach from 2016
Dark Reading Staff 5/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Could you pass the hash, I really have to use the bathroom!
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-12253
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
my little forum before 2.4.20 allows CSRF to delete posts, as demonstrated by mode=posting&delete_posting.
CVE-2019-12250
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
IdentityServer IdentityServer4 through 2.4 has stored XSS via the httpContext to the host/Extensions/RequestLoggerMiddleware.cs LogForErrorContext method, which can be triggered by viewing a log.
CVE-2019-12251
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
sadmin/ceditpost.php in UCMS 1.4.7 allows SQL Injection via the index.php?do=sadmin_ceditpost cvalue parameter.
CVE-2019-10319
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
A missing permission check in Jenkins PAM Authentication Plugin 1.5 and earlier, except 1.4.1 in PamSecurityRealm.DescriptorImpl#doTest allowed users with Overall/Read permission to obtain limited information about the file /etc/shadow and the user Jenkins is running as.
CVE-2019-10320
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
Jenkins Credentials Plugin 2.1.18 and earlier allowed users with permission to create or update credentials to confirm the existence of files on the Jenkins master with an attacker-specified path, and obtain the certificate content of files containing a PKCS#12 certificate.