Ransomware Gang Makes $100 Million

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have released a joint alert detailing the ransomware gang Hive's lucrative criminal activity. 

These US government cyber security agencies have reported that the Hive ransomware gang has victimised more than 1,300 businesses in the past 18 months, resulting in roughly $100M in ransom payments. 

The group has been active since June 2021 and has offered ransomware-as-a-service. The Hive ransomware has been used in attacks against businesses, critical infrastructure entities, government, healthcare, IT, and manufacturing organisations. 

“Hive actors have gained initial access to victim networks by using single factor logins via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), virtual private networks (VPNs), and other remote network connection protocols... In some cases, Hive actors have bypassed multifactor authentication (MFA) and gained access to servers by exploiting Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)... This vulnerability enables a malicious cyber actor to log in without a prompt for the user’s second authentication factor (FortiToken) when the actor changes the case of the username... Hive actors have also gained initial access to victim networks by distributing phishing emails with malicious attachments,” says the Joint Alert.

The report discusses the indications that a device or network has been infected by the specific ransomware used by Hive.  

Once it achieves access, the ransomware attempts to identify and terminate anti-malware processes. The ransom note also threatens victims that, if a ransom is not paid, data would be made public on the Tor site ‘HiveLeaks’. The Hive threat actors were also seen using anonymous file sharing sites to leak stolen data on thye Dark Web.

The US agencies warn that Hive actors have been observed reinfecting, either with Hive or other ransomware variant, victims that restored their environments without paying a ransom.

The retail sector is a specific target for Hive ransom attacks and this confirmed by an authoritative threat report by SonicWall, which found that retailers saw a 90% increase in ransomware attacks in 2022, whereby hackers attempt to cripple their day-to-day infrastructure. Other findings include:

  •  A 200% increase in intrusions throughout global retailers.
  • A 122% increase in IOT malware, with click-and-collect devices and warehouse inventory being attacked as shops catch up to giant e-tailers.
  • A 63% increase in cryptojacking, with hackers remotely siphoning off the computing power across a retailer’s organization.  

The FBI, CISA, and HHS do not encourage paying a ransom to criminal actors. Paying a ransom may embolden adversaries to target additional organisations, encourage other criminal actors to engage in the distribution of ransomware, and/or fund illicit activities. Paying the ransom also does not guarantee that a victim’s files will be recovered. 

When businesses are faced with an inability to function, executives are advised to evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers. “Regardless of whether you or your organisation decide to pay the ransom, the FBI, CISA, and HHS urge you to promptly report ransomware incidents to the FBI or CISA.”

CISA:      SonicWall:      Oodaloop:       Security Week:       Techmonitor:      Techcrunch:    

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