Threat actors compromised an account with administrator privileges to infect a manufacturing company with BitPaymer ransomware.

A Trend Micro investigation found that digital attackers sent some commands via PsExec — a command-line tool for executing processes on remote computers — to copy and execute a variant of BitPaymer between 9:40 p.m. and 11:03 p.m. on Feb. 18, 2019. Only accounts with administrator privileges can run commands via PsExec. Acknowledging this fact, researchers reasoned that the manufacturing company suffered a security breach prior to the ransomware’s execution.

Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 18, Trend Micro helped detect several instances in which threat actors attempted to infect machines with an Empire PowerShell backdoor. These attack attempts occurred remotely and filelessly, though Trend Micro did detect binaries associated with Dridex, a banking Trojan that ESET linked to BitPaymer’s creators last year.

Not a New BitPaymer Variant

Ransom.Win32.BITPAYMER.TGACAJ, the BitPaymer variant involved in this attack, was unique in that it used the victim organization’s name in its ransom note and as an extension name for encrypted files. But it’s not the first time that security researchers have observed such behavior of the ransomware. Back in November 2018, a malware researcher revealed on Twitter how they had spotted a similar version of the threat targeting several companies.

This attack also comes at a time of sustained activity for BitPaymer. For instance, the ransomware infected several hospitals belonging to NHS Lanarkshire back in August 2017, as reported by Bleeping Computer. About a year later, officials from the Alaskan borough Matanuska-Susitna revealed in a statement how a variant of the crypto-malware had infected the town government’s networks.

How to Defend Against a Ransomware Infection

Security professionals can help defend against ransomware by using an endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool to monitor IT devices for suspicious activity. Teams should also use a patch management tool to keep their software up to date, thereby preventing attacks from using known vulnerabilities to infect their workstations with ransomware.

Furthermore, organizations should create or update their incident response plan and keep this framework effective by testing it consistently and making it inclusive of stakeholders.

More from

Containers, Security, and Risks within Containerized Environments

Applications have historically been deployed and created in a manner reminiscent of classic shopping malls. First, a developer builds the mall, then creates the various stores inside. The stores conform to the dimensions of the mall and operate within its floor plan.In older approaches to application development, a developer would have a targeted system or set of systems for which they intend to create an application. This targeted system would be the mall. Then, when building the application, they would tailor…

Inside the Second White House Ransomware Summit

Ransomware is a growing, international threat. It's also an insidious one. The state of the art in ransomware is simple but effective. Well-organized criminal gangs hiding in safe-haven countries breach an organization, find, steal and encrypt important files. Then they present victims with the double incentive that, should they refuse to pay, their encrypted files will be both deleted and made public. In addition to hundreds of major attacks around the world, two critical ransomware incidents — the Colonial Pipeline attack and…

Did Brazil DSL Modem Attacks Change Device Security?

From 2011 to 2012, millions of Internet users in Brazil fell victim to a massive attack against vulnerable DSL modems. By configuring the modems remotely, attackers could redirect users to malicious domain name system (DNS) servers. Victims trying to visit popular websites (Google, Facebook) were instead directed to imposter sites. These rogue sites then installed malware on victims' computers. According to a report from Kaspersky Lab Expert Fabio Assolini citing statistics from Brazil's Computer Emergency Response Team, the attack ultimately…

Who Carries the Weight of a Cyberattack?

Almost immediately after a company discovers a data breach, the finger-pointing begins. Who is to blame? Most often, it is the chief information security officer (CISO) or chief security officer (CSO) because protecting the network infrastructure is their job. Heck, it is even in their job title: they are the security officer. Security is their responsibility. But is that fair – or even right? After all, the most common sources of data breaches and other cyber incidents are situations caused…