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.

Risk

7/15/2019
04:25 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Meet DoppelPaymer, BitPaymer's Ransomware Lookalike

New ransomware variant DoppelPaymer was leveraged in campaigns against the City of Edcouch, Texas, and the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture.

Researchers have identified a new ransomware variant dubbed DoppelPaymer, named for code similarities it shares with BitPaymer ransomware operated by the Indrik Spider attack group.

The new variant was spotted in a series of ransomware campaigns starting in June 2019, including attacks against the City of Edcouch, Texas, as well as the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, CrowdStrike researchers report in a blog post on the malware discovery.

While most of their source code is related, differences between BitPaymer and DoppelPaymer could indicate a member of Indrik Spider splintered from the group and forked BitPaymer and Dridex source code to begin a "big game hunting" ransomware operation. Big game hunting is a term CrowdStrike uses to describe the tactic of targeting organizations for large payouts.

"Big game hunters favor municipalities, industrial/manufacturing, healthcare, and targets which cannot accept downtime," says Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike, adding that in this case, researchers saw targets across multiple verticals. "They choose targets in these verticals to increase the likelihood of payment, likely thinking that these victims are not prepared to recover and the cost of ransom is less than the cost of downtime."

Indrik Spider was formed in 2014 by former affiliates of the GameOver Zeus criminal network. Shortly after its inception, the group built Dridex, which became one of the world's most prominent cybercrime operations in 2015 and 2016. In August 2017, it launched BitPaymer and began the shift to big game hunting, using access to an organization to demand more money.

Since BitPaymer launched, Indrik Spider has made several changes to its original source code. November 2018 brought a significant update: the ransom note was altered to include the victim's name, which was also included in the file extension added to encrypted files. BitPaymer's file encryption was updated to use 256-bit AES in lieu of the earlier 128-bit RC4. Researchers suggest the swap was due to "relative weakness" of RC4 compared with AES.

The latest version of BitPaymer has been used in at least 15 confirmed ransomware attacks since November. Activity has continued through 2019, with multiple incidents in June and July.

In June, lookalike DoppelPaymer arrived on the scene. Researchers recovered DoppelPaymer builds dating back to April 2019; however, because these were missing new features seen in later versions, it's likely they may have been test builds. CrowdStrike has confirmed eight malware builds and three victims with ransoms starting at $25,000 and exceeding $1.2 million.

Adversaries typically gain access to targets via other malware like Emotet or Dridex, Meyers explains. Once they identify a target, they begin to interact by escalating privileges, moving laterally, and getting to a position with enough reach to deploy the ransomware payload.

"The code is very similar" to BitPaymer's, says Meyers of DoppelPaymer, adding that "the actor likely had access to the BitPaymer source code and created a forked version where they added some customizations such as changing the cryptography and the ransom note schema."

While DoppelPaymer's ransom note is similar to the one used by the original BitPaymer in 2018, there have been some changes. The payment portal is "almost identical" to the original BitPaymer portal, researchers report, and it contains a ransom amount, countdown timer, and bitcoin address for payment. Both threats use Tor for ransom payment and the .locked extension.

Code overlaps indicate DoppelPaymer is a more recent branch of the latest iteration of BitPaymer, and there are "notable encryption differences" between the two. The actor behind DoppelPaymer made several code changes to improve BitPaymer's functionality: file encryption is now threaded to increase the speed of encrypting files, for example, and DoppelPaymer will run only after a specific command line argument is provided. If no arguments, or an incorrect one, is provided, then DoppelPaymer will crash. It also uses a technique called ProcessHacker, a legitimate open source administrative utility, to terminate some of its processes and services.

Both BitPaymer and DoppelPaymer continue to operate at the same time, as separate threats.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
The Mainframe Is Seeing a Resurgence. Is Security Keeping Pace?
Ray Overby, Co-Founder & President at Key Resources, Inc.,  8/15/2019
The Flaw in Vulnerability Management: It's Time to Get Real
Jim Souders, Chief Executive Officer at Adaptiva,  8/15/2019
Tough Love: Debunking Myths about DevOps & Security
Jeff Williams, CTO, Contrast Security,  8/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
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-2019-5638
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
Rapid7 Nexpose versions 6.5.50 and prior suffer from insufficient session expiration when an administrator performs a security relevant edit on an existing, logged on user. For example, if a user's password is changed by an administrator due to an otherwise unrelated credential leak, that user accou...
CVE-2019-6177
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
A vulnerability reported in Lenovo Solution Center version 03.12.003, which is no longer supported, could allow log files to be written to non-standard locations, potentially leading to privilege escalation. Lenovo ended support for Lenovo Solution Center and recommended that customers migrate to Le...
CVE-2019-10687
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
KBPublisher 6.0.2.1 has SQL Injection via the admin/index.php?module=report entry_id[0] parameter, the admin/index.php?module=log id parameter, or an index.php?View=print&id[]= request.
CVE-2019-11601
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
A directory traversal vulnerability in remote access to backup & restore in earlier versions than ProSyst mBS SDK 8.2.6 and Bosch IoT Gateway Software 9.2.0 allows remote attackers to write or delete files at any location.
CVE-2019-11602
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-21
Leakage of stack traces in remote access to backup & restore in earlier versions than ProSyst mBS SDK 8.2.6 and Bosch IoT Gateway Software 9.2.0 allows remote attackers to gather information about the file system structure.