Security Market Segment LS
Thursday, 22 October 2020 10:16

LockBit ransomware using Windows tools to bypass security: claim

LockBit ransomware using Windows tools to bypass security: claim Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Windows ransomware known as LockBit, which made its presence known in 2019, has now matured and is using novel ways to escalate privileges by bypassing the User Account Control feature on Windows systems.

Sean Gallagher, a senior threat researcher at security firm Sophos, said in a detailed blog post that the attackers behind LockBit were calling scripts from a remote Google document using renamed copies of the PowerShell executable to evade detection in a bid to create a persistent backdoor.

The scripts also tried to bypass the built-in anti-malware interface on Windows 10 by applying patches to it directly in memory, earning the name PSRename for this technique.

"Based on some artifacts, we believe some components of the attack were based on PowerShell Empire, the PowerShell-based penetration testing post-exploitation tool," Gallagher wrote in the report to which Vikas Singh, Felix Weyne, Richard Cohen and Anand Ajjan also contributed.

"Using a series of heavily obfuscated scripts controlled by a remote backend, the PowerShell scripts collect valuable intelligence about targeted networks before unleashing the LockBit ransomware, checking for signs of malware protection, firewalls and forensic sandboxes as well as very specific types of business software, particularly, point-of-sale systems and tax accounting software.

"The series of attack scripts only deploys ransomware if the fingerprint of the target matches attractive targets."

This kind of sophistication mean that there was not much left behind after an attack for forensics. The attacks were also carried out swiftly, with Gallagher noting that in one case LockBit was executed across a targeted network within five minutes with the use of administrative tools found in Windows.

"LockBit's interest in specific business applications and keywords indicates the attackers were clearly looking to identify systems that are valuable to smaller companies — the systems that store financial information and handle daily business — in order to pressure victims to pay, and pay faster," said Gallagher.

"We've seen ransomware shut down business applications upon execution, but this is the first time we've seen attackers looking for certain types of applications in an automated approach to score potential targets.

"The LockBit gang appears to be following other ransomware groups, including Ryuk — which Sophos recently found using Cobalt Strike — that are adapting tools developed for penetration testing to automate and accelerate their attacks," said Gallagher.

"In this case, the PowerShell scripts help the attackers identify systems that have applications with particularly valuable data, so that they don't waste their time encrypting or 'supporting' victims who are less likely to pay.

"They're using these tools in an automated fashion to cast as wide a net as possible, while limiting their actual hands-on-keyboard activity, to track down the most promising victims."

Please join our community here and become a VIP.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here
JOIN our iTWireTV our YouTube Community here


It's all about Webinars.

Marketing budgets are now focused on Webinars combined with Lead Generation.

If you wish to promote a Webinar we recommend at least a 3 to 4 week campaign prior to your event.

The iTWire campaign will include extensive adverts on our News Site and prominent Newsletter promotion and Promotional News & Editorial. Plus a video interview of the key speaker on iTWire TV which will be used in Promotional Posts on the iTWire Home Page.

Now we are coming out of Lockdown iTWire will be focussed to assisting with your webinatrs and campaigns and assassistance via part payments and extended terms, a Webinar Business Booster Pack and other supportive programs. We can also create your adverts and written content plus coordinate your video interview.

We look forward to discussing your campaign goals with you. Please click the button below.



iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.


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.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous




Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News