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.

Endpoint

5/15/2019
12:45 PM
50%
50%

Two Ransomware Recovery Firms Typically Pay Hackers

Companies promising the safe return of data sans ransom payment secretly pass Bitcoin to attackers and charge clients added fees.

A new report sheds light on the practices of two US data recovery firms, Proven Data Recovery and MonsterCloud, both of which paid ransomware attackers and charged victims extra fees.

ProPublica researchers were able to trace four payments from a Bitcoin wallet controlled by Proven Data to a wallet controlled by the operators of SamSam ransomware, which caused millions of dollars in damages to cities and businesses across the US. Payments to this wallet, and another connected to the attackers, were banned by the US Treasury Department due to sanctions on Iran, explained former Proven Data employee Jonathan Storfer to researchers.

Proven Data claims to unlock ransomware victims' data using its own technology. Storfer and an FBI affidavit say otherwise: The company instead paid ransom to obtain decryption tools. MonsterCloud, another data recovery firm that claims to employ its own recovery practices, also pays ransoms — without telling the victims, some of which are law enforcement offices.

Proven Data chief executive Victor Congionti did tell ProPublica paying ransom "is standard procedure" at the company, and oftentimes it pays attackers at the request of clients. But Storfer explains how the company developed a relationship with the attackers and, as a result, was able to receive extensions on payment dates and even get discounts on ransoms. SamSam operators would advise their victims to contact Proven Data for help with submitting payment.

The report draws attention to a dilemma that businesses face when hit with ransomware: It's easy to frown on paying the ransom in theory; it's different when your data is held hostage.

It's neither illegal to hide strategies for decrypting data nor illegal to pay attackers, the report points out. But paying ransom while pretending otherwise to a client could fall under deceptive business practices banned by the Federal Trade Commission Act, former FTC acting chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said. The FTC has not cited MonsterCloud or Proven Data, they note.

Read the full report here.

 

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Truths About BEC Scams
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  6/13/2019
DNS Firewalls Could Prevent Billions in Losses to Cybercrime
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2019
Can Your Patching Strategy Keep Up with the Demands of Open Source?
Tim Mackey, Principal Security Strategist, CyRC, at Synopsys,  6/18/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
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
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-2729
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Vulnerability in the Oracle WebLogic Server component of Oracle Fusion Middleware (subcomponent: Web Services). Supported versions that are affected are 10.3.6.0.0, 12.1.3.0.0 and 12.2.1.3.0. Easily exploitable vulnerability allows unauthenticated attacker with network access via HTTP to compromise ...
CVE-2019-3737
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Dell EMC Avamar ADMe Web Interface 1.0.50 and 1.0.51 are affected by an LFI vulnerability which may allow a malicious user to download arbitrary files from the affected system by sending a specially crafted request to the Web Interface application.
CVE-2019-3787
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Cloud Foundry UAA, versions prior to 73.0.0, falls back to appending ?unknown.org? to a user's email address when one is not provided and the user name does not contain an @ character. This domain is held by a private company, which leads to attack vectors including password recovery emails sent to ...
CVE-2019-12900
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
BZ2_decompress in decompress.c in bzip2 through 1.0.6 has an out-of-bounds write when there are many selectors.
CVE-2019-12893
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-19
Alternate Pic View 2.600 has a User Mode Write AV starting at PicViewer!PerfgrapFinalize+0x00000000000a8868.