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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Conti Ransomware

Conti Leaks Reveal Ransomware Gang's Interest in Firmware-based Attacks

Conti Leaks Reveal Ransomware Gang's Interest in Firmware-based Attacks

June 02, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An analysis of  leaked chats  from the notorious  Conti ransomware group  earlier this year has revealed that the syndicate has been working on a set of firmware attack techniques that could offer a path to accessing privileged code on compromised devices. "Control over firmware gives attackers virtually unmatched powers both to directly cause damage and to enable other long-term strategic goals," firmware and hardware security firm Eclypsium  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "Such level of access would allow an adversary to cause irreparable damage to a system or to establish ongoing persistence that is virtually invisible to the operating system." Specifically, this includes attacks aimed at embedded microcontrollers such as the Intel  Management Engine  ( ME ), a privileged component that's part of the company's processor chipsets and which can completely bypass the operating system. It's worth noting that the reason for this evolv
U.S. Offering $10 Million Reward for Information on Conti Ransomware Hackers

U.S. Offering $10 Million Reward for Information on Conti Ransomware Hackers

May 08, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. State Department has  announced  rewards of up to $10 million for any information leading to the identification of key individuals who are part of the infamous Conti cybercrime gang. Additionally, it's offering another $5 million for intelligence information that could help arrest or convict individuals who are conspiring or attempting to affiliate with the group in a ransomware attack. The department called the Conti variant the "costliest strain of ransomware ever documented." Conti , the work of a Russia-based transnational organized crime group dubbed Gold Ulrick, is one most prolific ransomware cartels that has continued to strike entities globally while simultaneously  expanding its empire  by absorbing TrickBot and running side hustles that involve data extortion. After the syndicate expressed public support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, it  suffered a major breach  of its own after its source code and internal chats were released
Experts Analyze Conti and Hive Ransomware Gangs' Chats With Their Victims

Experts Analyze Conti and Hive Ransomware Gangs' Chats With Their Victims

May 03, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
An analysis of four months of chat logs spanning more than 40 conversations between the operators of Conti and Hive ransomware and their victims has offered an insight into the groups' inner workings and their negotiation techniques. In one exchange, the Conti Team is said to have significantly reduced the ransom demand from a staggering $50 million to $1 million, a 98% drop, suggesting a willingness to settle for a far lower amount. "Both Conti and Hive are quick to lower ransom demands, routinely offering substantial reductions multiple times throughout negotiations," Cisco Talos  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "This signals that despite popular belief, victims of a ransomware attack actually have significant negotiating power." Conti  and  Hive  are among the most prevalent ransomware strains in the threat landscape, cumulatively accounting for  29.1% of attacks  detected during the three-month-period between October and December 2021. A
Gold Ulrick Hackers Still in Action Despite Massive Conti Ransomware Leak

Gold Ulrick Hackers Still in Action Despite Massive Conti Ransomware Leak

April 26, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The infamous ransomware group known as Conti has  continued  its onslaught against entities despite suffering a massive data leak of its own earlier this year, according to new research. Conti, attributed to a Russia-based threat actor known as Gold Ulrick , is the second most prevalent malware strain in the ransomware landscape, accounting for  19% of all attacks  during the three-month-period between October and December 2021. One of the most prolific ransomware groups of the last year along the likes of LockBit 2.0, PYSA, and Hive, Conti has locked the networks of hospitals, businesses, and government agencies, while receiving a ransom payment in exchange for sharing the decryption key as part of its name-and-shame scheme. But after the cybercriminal cartel came out in support of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in February, an anonymous Ukrainian security researcher under the Twitter handle  ContiLeaks  began leaking the source code as well as private conversations between i
Google Uncovers 'Initial Access Broker' Working with Conti Ransomware Gang

Google Uncovers 'Initial Access Broker' Working with Conti Ransomware Gang

March 18, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) took the wraps off a new  initial access broker  that it said is closely affiliated to a Russian cyber crime gang notorious for its Conti and Diavol ransomware operations. Dubbed Exotic Lily, the financially motivated threat actor has been observed exploiting a now-patched critical flaw in the Microsoft Windows MSHTML platform ( CVE-2021-40444 ) as part of widespread phishing campaigns that involved sending no fewer than 5,000 business proposal-themed emails a day to 650 targeted organizations globally. "Initial access brokers are the opportunistic locksmiths of the security world, and it's a full-time job," TAG researchers Vlad Stolyarov and Vlad Stolyarov  said . "These groups specialize in breaching a target in order to open the doors — or the Windows — to the malicious actor with the highest bid." Exotic Lily, first spotted in September 2021, is said to have been involved in data exfiltration and deployment of th
Conti Ransomware Gang's Internal Chats Leaked Online After Siding With Russia

Conti Ransomware Gang's Internal Chats Leaked Online After Siding With Russia

March 01, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Days after the Conti ransomware group broadcasted a pro-Russian message pledging its allegiance to Vladimir Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, an anonymous security researcher using the Twitter handle @ContiLeaks has leaked the syndicate's internal chats. The file dump, published by malware research group  VX-Underground , is said to contain 13 months of chat logs between affiliates and administrators of the Russia-affiliated ransomware group from June 2020 to February 2022, in a move that's expected to offer  unprecedented   insight  into the criminal enterprise's inner workings. "Glory to Ukraine," the leaker said in their message. The shared conversations show that Conti used fake front companies to attempt to schedule product demos with security firms like CarbonBlack and Sophos to obtain code signing certificates, with the operators working in scrum sprints to complete the software development tasks. Additionally, the messages  confirm  the  shu
Experts Expose Secrets of Conti Ransomware Group That Made 25 Million from Victims

Experts Expose Secrets of Conti Ransomware Group That Made 25 Million from Victims

November 18, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The clearnet and dark web payment portals operated by the  Conti  ransomware group have gone down in what appears to be an attempt to shift to new infrastructure after details about the gang's inner workings and its members were made public. According to  MalwareHunterTeam , "while both the clearweb and Tor domains of the leak site of the Conti ransomware gang is online and working, both their clearweb and Tor domains for the payment site (which is obviously more important than the leak) is down." It's not clear what prompted the shutdown, but the development comes as Swiss cybersecurity firm PRODAFT  offered  an unprecedented look into the group's ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) model, wherein the developers sell or lease their ransomware technology to affiliates hired from darknet forums, who then carry out attacks on their behalf while also netting about 70% of each ransom payment extorted from the victims. The result? Three members of the Conti team have b
FBI Warns Conti Ransomware Hit 16 U.S. Health and Emergency Services

FBI Warns Conti Ransomware Hit 16 U.S. Health and Emergency Services

May 22, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The adversary behind Conti ransomware targeted no fewer than 16 healthcare and first responder networks in the U.S. within the past year, totally victimizing over 400 organizations worldwide, 290 of which are situated in the country. That's according to a new  flash alert  issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Thursday. "The FBI identified at least 16 Conti ransomware attacks targeting U.S. healthcare and first responder networks, including law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, 9-1-1 dispatch centers, and municipalities within the last year," the agency said. Ransomware attacks have worsened over the years, with recent targets as varied as state and local governments, hospitals, police departments, and critical infrastructure.  Conti  is one of many ransomware strains that have capitulated on that trend, commencing its operations in July 2020 as a private Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS), in addition to jumping on the double extort
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