The New Ryuk Ransomware Attack


Ryuk is a type of crypto-ransomware. It uses encryption as a way to block access to a system or file until the ransom is paid. The ransomware is generally dropped with the help of other malware such as TrickBot or Emotet. Another mode of infection used by Ryuk ransomware is ‘Remote Desk Services’.

The Ryuk attacks were popular in third quarter of 2019, however the ransomware went silent at the onset of COVID-19 quarantine. But, it has returned as new Ryuk ransomware with added features and evolution of tools used to compromise target networks and ransomware deployment.

The most notable feature of new Ryuk ransomware is ‘Speed’. Once a system is infected, the attackers gain access of domain controller and enter early stage of deployment just within a day.

The second notable feature of new Ryuk ransomware is ‘Persistence’. The attackers make multiple attempts by sending renewed phishing emails to establish a contact.

How Is A System Infected?

  • The attackers send a phishing email to the target. The email contains a link, which redirects the user to a malicious document hosted on ‘docs.google.com’.
  • When a user opens the document, its contents are enabled. This allows the document to execute a malicious executable identifier ‘print_document.exe’ as a Buer Loader. Buer Loader is a modular malware-as-a-service downloader.
  • When executed, Buer Loader drops malware files and a Cobalt Strike beacon ‘qoipozincyusury.exe’. it is a modular attack tool which is capable of performing multiple tasks such as providing access to operating system features and establishing a covert command & control channel within the compromised network.
  • Additional Cobalt Strike beacons are downloaded on the system for reconnaissance and to hunt for credentials. Numerous commands are run on the infected system to retrieve information such as list of trusted domains, list of members of ‘enterprise admins’, list of administrators for local machine, list of domain admins, network configuration, etc.
  • Using this data, attackers obtain administrative credentials and connect to domain controller, where they dump data of Active Directory.
  • Using domain administrator credentials, another Cobalt Strike service is installed on the domain controller. It is a chained Server Message Block listener. It allows Cobalt Strike commands to be passed on to the server and other computers on the network. This allows attackers to spread the attack laterally onto other systems in the same network.
  • The Ryuk is launched and it attacks the backup server. In case of detection or interruption by security protocols, the attackers use icacls command to modify access control. This gives them complete control of the system folders on the server.
  • Now, they deploy GMER, a rootkit detector tool. It is used to find and shutdown hidden processes such as antivirus. The ransomware is re-deployed and re-launched multiple times to overwhelm remaining defenses.
  • Ransom notes are dropped in folders hosting the ransomware.

Educate the employees to refrain from opening doubtful emails and documents to prevent the new Ryuk attack.

For more information on the new Ryuk ransomware attack, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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