Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

Log4Shell is a harmful safety concern — and now Conti, a distinguished ransomware group, is exploiting it to assault weak servers to extort thousands and thousands of {dollars}.


Picture: Shutterstock/Khakimullin Aleksandr

Log4Shell is essentially the most extreme vulnerability hitting techniques ultimately of 2021. Since its public publicity on the December 9, the safety business has labored onerous to attempt to patch and defend towards it. However positive sufficient, cybercriminals have began utilizing it, and it was solely a matter of time earlier than one of the vital lively ransomware teams started to take advantage of it too.

What’s the Log4Shell vulnerability?

The Log4Shell vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) impacts the log4j Java library, which is utilized by a variety of software program. Hundreds of thousands of techniques worldwide use a weak model of this library and are in danger.

Safety supplier Cloudflare says in a weblog publish that it is seeing the exploitation sample in log recordsdata as much as 1,000 instances per second.

What makes it so extreme is that it permits an attacker to simply launch distant code on the machine operating the weak library. It doesn’t take a variety of technical abilities to take advantage of it, so it’s accessible to essentially any form of attacker, technically good or not.

SEE: NIST Cybersecurity Framework: A cheat sheet for professionals (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Conti ransomware

AdvIntel reported {that a} week after the vulnerability turned public, it began being utilized by one of the vital prolific organized Russian-speaking ransomware teams: Conti.

The group behind Conti ransomware is properly structured. Its enterprise mannequin is to supply the Conti ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). On this mannequin, the cybercriminals working Conti allow associates to make use of it as desired, supplied {that a} share of the ransom fee is shared with them.

Between July and November 2021, the group is estimated to have acquired $25.5 million from ransom funds, in response to cryptocurrency transactions investigations from Swiss firm PRODAFT, whereas AdvIntel estimates that Conti revamped $150 million within the final six months.

Conti makes use of the “double extortion” scheme: If corporations don’t pay the ransom, not solely is their knowledge misplaced, nevertheless it’s additionally uncovered publicly on the web or bought to opponents, because the group took care of exfiltrating all of the encrypted knowledge on its infrastructure.

Data on the Conti group grew out of the blue when one disgruntled affiliate of the construction out of the blue leaked materials from Conti. The leak contained paperwork principally written in Cyrillic and uncovered a full playbook to compromise corporations and infect them with ransomware, making it uncomfortably simple for any hacker talking the language, even with low safety and community abilities.

The Conti group appears to be eager on at all times discovering new methods to contaminate corporations and unfold their ransomware, as they typically have leveraged exploits as preliminary compromise vectors.


The Conti group’s timeline for looking new exploit vectors 

Picture: AdvIntel

Utilizing the Log4Shell vulnerability, the group particularly focused VMware vCenter servers. The exploit was used to get entry to the server after which have the ability to transfer laterally throughout the focused firm’s community. It is a notable distinction in comparison with different exploits they may use: This one is devoted to shifting laterally contained in the compromised community; the attackers have already efficiently obtained preliminary entry to the company community.

That is by far the largest and most profitable use of the Log4Shell vulnerability, because the penalties of its use may be extra corporations having their enterprise being disrupted. A few of them will most likely select to pay the ransom to return to regular and never have their knowledge uncovered on the web.

The cybercriminals may also consider different methods to take advantage of the Log4Shell vulnerability, as software program apart from vCenter is weak, even for the preliminary compromise stage of their assaults.

SEE: Patch administration coverage (TechRepublic Premium)

Find out how to defend your self from the Log4Shell assaults

VMware already supplied directions to handle the vulnerability in vCenter servers and vCenter Cloud Gateways.

Much more software program is weak. It’s suggested to examine recurrently for updates on weak merchandise and patch or deploy workarounds as quickly as potential. A complete checklist of impacted software program is supplied by US CISA.

Log4Shell-specific testing software program is supplied by a number of safety corporations for IT employees who wish to examine whether or not their techniques are impacted and can be utilized to detect weak techniques.

Cybereason gives a “vaccine” to stop the vulnerability from being triggered, nevertheless it ought to be seen solely as a short lived measure till all techniques are patched.

Find out how to defend your self from ransomware

  • Maintain all techniques and software program updated.
  • Conduct safety audits and repair no matter safety drawback seems.
  • Carry out common backups, however maintain them offline as a lot as potential, as ransomware is commonly searching for backup techniques and destroying it.
  • Scale back the assault floor by rigorously disabling any protocol or system that isn’t wanted. For example, if FTP shouldn’t be wanted someplace, disable it.
  • Allow double issue authentication (2FA) every time potential, particularly for distant entry connections.
  • Limit privileges of customers to solely the content material they should work.
  • Use intrusion prevention techniques (IPS) / intrusion detection techniques (IDS).
  • Run safety consciousness applications for all staff.

Disclosure: I work for Development Micro, however the views expressed on this article are mine.


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