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Monday, 14 December 2020 10:40

Windows MountLocker ransomware working through affiliates: claim Featured

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The MountLocker web page on the dark web. The MountLocker web page on the dark web. Supplied

Researchers from the Blackberry Research and Intelligence Team say they have been tracking the activities of affiliates of the MountLocker ransomware group, another one of the numerous ransomware groups that attacks Microsoft's Windows operating system.

In a blog post released on Saturday, the researchers said MountLocker has been offered on a ransomware-as-a-service model since July and was updated in November to broaden the file types it targeted and its ability to evade security software.

"The MountLocker ransomware, at less than 100Kb in size, is lightweight and simple in construction," the researchers wrote. "It is typically deployed as either an x86 or x64 Windows portable executable (PE) file, although occasionally as a Microsoft Installer (MSI) package."

Like many other Windows ransomware groups, MountLocker also has a site on the dark web where recent targets who do not pay up are listed. Links to leaked data are also provided.

The researchers said at the moment five victims were listed, adding that they believed the actual number to be much bigger.

As to infection vectors, the Blackberry team said attackers who used MountLocker used compromised credentials to gain access to a Windows system through the Remote Desktop Protocol application.

mount locker ransom note

A typical ransom note generated by the Windows MountLocker ransomware. Supplied

"In one instance, after establishing a foothold in an organisation, there was a delay of several days before activity resumed," they wrote.

"It is likely that the threat actors were negotiating with the MountLocker operators to join their affiliate program and obtain the ransomware during this pause.

"Upon obtaining the MountLocker ransomware, the threat actors were observed returning with several 'public' tools, including CobaltStrike Beacon and AdFind from Joeware."

As with several other ransomware groups, data is stolen from victims to serve as an additional means of putting pressure on them to extort a ransom.

The researchers claimed that successful MountLocker affiliates had been known to seek multi-million-dollar payments for decryption services and to prevent public disclosure of stolen data.

The Blackberry team provided a detailed technical breakdown of how the ransomware behaves before, during and after entry.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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