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    Date: 6/13/2022

    New Variant of Cuba Ransomware Observed 


    Researchers in the Trend Micro team have discovered a new malware variant of the Cuba Ransomware, which famously pulled over $43 million in ransom in 2021. This new variant includes additional process/service killing actions, expanded safe lists for directories/file extensions, updated verbiage on ransom notes, and an added technical support line (quTox).

    Potential Impact

    This new variant has been seen to deploy a custom downloader named BUGHATCH, not seen to be used by Cuba’s ransomware before in the wild. Additionally, the new variant has been seen to terminate over 47 additional processes/services to accomplish its attack(s). It has also expanded its directory and extension safelists, most noticeably directories like program files[(x86)]microsoft office and the .vbm extensions.

    Apart from the added technical components, two more changes have been seen. This includes updated verbiage and removed the threat of publishing exfiltrated data onto the Cuba ransomware Tor website. Also, victims can now utilize the quTox technical support line if they require assistance purchasing cryptocurrency and making payments. 

    Recommended Actions

    As with all ransomware variants, proactive cybersecurity strategies are essential. This includes deploying EDR solutions, conducting regular vulnerability scanning, and updating cybersecurity awareness programs. 

    Additionally, two indicators of compromise (IOC) have been seen to be consistent among the new attacks utilizing this Cuba ransomware variant. Organizations can add these to block lists and threat hunt against them: 

    • 89288de628b402621007c7ebb289233e7568307fb12a33aac7e834504c17b4af
    • Ransom.Win32.BACUCRYPT.YPCD2T

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      Sentinel Labs: “Aoqin Dragon” APT Group has Been Spying on Organizations for Nearly a Decade


      Researchers from Sentinel Labs have discovered a Chinese-Linked APT group, Aoqin Dragon, that has been spying on organizations for nearly a decade. Specifically targeting Southeast Asia and Australia, Aoqin Dragon has been spying on the government, education, and telecommunication organizations. Usually gaining initial access through document exploits and fake removable devices, Aoqin Dragon has also been deploying tactics such as DLL hijacking and DNS tunneling. Additionally, Aoqin Dragon has been seen to deploy a modified version of the heyoka backdoor, an open-source backdoor project. This has allowed it to bypass traditional detection methodologies that do not detect this variant.

      Potential Impact

      Quiet reconnaissance campaigns such as this are ordinarily successful long-term. Sophisticated APT groups are patient and slow to move through networks or exfiltrate data, usually blending in with everyday traffic and going unseen. Extended access to organization networks leads to intellectual property theft, personal identifiable information exfiltration, and company brand reputation damage.

      Recommended Actions

      Aoqin Dragon’s primary initial access vector is with fake documents. Due to this, organizations should continue to deploy regular cybersecurity awareness programs to train employees on how to avoid phishing attacks and safely interact with unknown documents. Beyond that, organizations should conduct regular threat hunts to look for abnormal network traffic and connections to foreign IP addresses. Sentinel Labs has also published a comprehensive list of Indicators of Compromise (IOCs) here: Aoqin Dragon | Newly-Discovered Chinese-linked APT Has Been Quietly Spying On Organizations For 10 Years – SentinelOne


      Emotet Malware is Making a Resurgence


      Emotet malware has a long history. First discovered as a banking trojan in 2014, Emotet has matured into a global botnet, which has proven resilient in the face of massive law enforcement efforts. In 2021, an international task force took down the infrastructure behind Emotet. 

      A resurgence of Emotet was recently observed in early 2022 in Japan and, more recently, in the United States. 

      Emotet is often spread as reply messages in hijacked email threads, which increases the success rates of these phishing attacks. Additionally, the latest phishing attempts by Emotet campaigns have had a high success rate in evading email security filters.

      Potential Impact

      The unfortunately mature business model of ransomware has led to the development of “access broker” businesses. Command and control over machines infected with Emotet have been known to be sold to ransomware gangs to be leveraged in devastating attacks. Devices infected with Emotet are also used to spread the infection through email reply messages to associates in other organizations.

      Recommended Actions

      User training:
      Since Emotet is spread through phishing messages, user awareness training is critical in avoiding infection.

      Acquire threat hunting services through a reputable cyber security vendor:
      Threat hunting efforts often uncover hosts infected with multiple malware variants.


      New Linux Malware Rootkit Observed in Wild


      Dr. Joakim Kennedy of the Blackberry Research & Intelligence Team reports finding a new Linux malware variant that infects all running processes and leverages this to evade detection. Kennedy has dubbed this malware “Symbiote”, due to its parasite-like activity. 

      Because of its rootkit behavior, Symbiote has proven exceedingly difficult to detect using live system analysis.

      Potential Impact

      According to Kennedy’s research, Symbiote’s objectives are credential stealing and “providing remote access for the attacker .”Once an attacker has remote access to a system inside a corporate network, lateral movement to other hosts can be expected. Attacks such as this often result in devastating ransomware events.

      Recommended Actions

      To maximize the chance of detection, Kennedy recommends ensuring that EDR binaries are statically linked so that they cannot be altered or spoofed by infected processes. Inquire with your EDR vendor or experts at GreyCastle Security for advice. 

      Network Security Monitoring (NSM) is an effective tool in detecting rootkit behavior, as malware is unable to control packet flow outside of the infected host. NSM is an excellent way to address gaps left in EDR deployments, finding rogue or misconfigured hosts, and detecting a myriad of anomalous behaviors. 


      Update: Ransomware Gangs Actively Targeting/Exploiting Atlassian Confluence Vulnerability


      As an update to our June 3rd Threat Intelligence regarding the Atlassian Confluence vulnerability (CVE-2022-26134): cybercriminals affiliated with both AvosLocker and Cerber2021 ransomware have been actively targeting unpatched Confluence servers.  

      Potential Impact

      Successful exploitation of this vulnerability on unpatched servers continues to occur, with AvosLocker reportedly infecting organizations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Additionally, reports of Cerber2021 (aka “CerberImposter”) ransomware attacks via successfully exploiting this vulnerability have increased along with AvosLocker.

      These increased reports of ransomware infections coincide with the last week’s widespread release of proof-of-concept exploit code for CVE-2022-26134 (see graphic below).

      Recommended Actions

      Atlassian strongly recommends upgrading to a fixed version of Confluence. However, if an upgrade is not feasible, organizations should consider the workaround outlined by Atlassian here.


      For strategic clients, your vCISO will add this to your next Office Hours for further discussion. However, if you have an immediate need, concern, or question, please reach out to them directly.

      For non-strategic clients, please reach out to your Advisor for further discussion.

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