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Threat Intelligence

1/3/2020
03:20 PM
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Ransomware Victim Southwire Sues Maze Operators

Attackers demanded $6 million from the wire and cable manufacturer when they launched a December ransomware campaign.

Southwire, a prominent Georgia-based cable and wire manufacturer, is suing the Maze ransomware operators following a December 2019 attack in which the defendants stole sensitive information and later published it when their demand for ransom went unfulfilled.

Maze ransomware has grown prevalent since it was detected by Malwarebytes researcher Jerome Segura in May 2019. The malware was also seen in attacks against the city of Pensacola, Fla., and Allied Universal; when the latter missed its ransom payment deadline, Maze operators published 700MB of stolen information and demanded $2.3 million to decrypt its network.

It seems the same pattern occurred in Maze's attack on Southwire, which resulted in the theft of 120GB of data and encryption of 878 devices, Bleeping Computer reports. The operators demanded 850 Bitcoins, or $6 million, in exchange for the information. When Southwire didn't pay, they posted a subset of the company's stolen files on a website they built and controlled.

As a result, Southwire has filed a civil lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia against the anonymous Maze attackers, referred to in the complaint as John Doe, "for injunctive relief and damages" under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the common law of trespass to chattels.

According to the official complaint, Southwire alleges the defendant wrongfully accessed its computer systems and extracted confidential business data and other sensitive data. "Defendant then demanded several million dollars to keep the information private, but after Southwire refused Defendant's extortion, Defendant wrongfully posted part of Southwire's confidential information on a publicly-accessible website that Defendant controls," it states.

Unless the attackers are directed to cease exposure of this information, the complaint continues, they will likely continue to post more of Southwire's stolen data to its website. In doing so, they could potentially cause "substantial, imminent, and irreparable harm" to the company.

The complaint states Southwire spent "far in excess of $5,000" to investigate the incident and remediate the damage Maze has caused and could cause. News of the incident has been spread to harm Southwire's reputation and alarm customers and employees, it adds. The defendant violated the CFAA "by knowingly and intentionally accessing Southwire's protected computers without authorization or in excess of any authorization and thereby obtaining information from the protected computers in a transaction involving an interstate or foreign communication."

On top of its lawsuit against the Maze operators, Southwire is seeking injunctions against World Hosting Farm Limited (WHFL), which hosts the attackers' website, after demands to remove its confidential data from the Internet went unaddressed, according to TheJournal.ie. The injunction requires WHFL to remove all data related to Southwire and its clients from the website. It also mandates the defendants hand over all the stolen data and that no additional information taken from Southwire be published anywhere else.

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Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "SIM Swapping Attacks: What They Are & How to Stop Them."

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
 

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