May 28, 2020 By David Bisson 2 min read

Security researchers observed PonyFinal ransomware using brute-force attacks to access targeted organizations’ networks.

Microsoft Security Intelligence revealed that PonyFinal ransomware, a Java-based crypto-malware threat, leveraged brute-force attacks to access an organization’s systems management server. At that point, the threat deployed a VBScript and a remote manipulator system. It used the former to run PowerShell reverse shell for the purpose of producing data dumps, while it relied on the latter to bypass event logging.

After stealing data from the systems management server, PonyFinal set about targeting endpoints on which Java Runtime Environment (JRE) was already installed. Those responsible for the threat sometimes even deployed JRE to further spur on the ransomware’s malicious activity.

Ultimately, the attack campaigns delivered an MSI file containing two batch files and the final ransomware payload. The first batch file, UVNC_Install.bat, created a scheduled task that called the second batch file, RunTask.bat. This file then ran PonyFinal, ransomware that appended the ENC file name to encrypted files before displaying its ransom note.

The Latest Ransomware to Use Brute-Force Attacks

PonyFinal ransomware isn’t the only crypto-malware threat that’s employed brute-force attacks in recent months. Back in February 2020, KnowBe4 covered the efforts of CRYSIS ransomware to use brute-force attacks via the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as a means of targeting U.S. healthcare organizations. Then, in April 2020, McAfee witnessed Lockbit using brute-force attacks on a web server containing an outdated virtual private network (VPN) service as a means of initially gaining access to a targeted organization’s network.

Defend Against PonyFinal Ransomware

Security professionals can help their organizations defend against PonyFinal ransomware by leveraging a robust endpoint management solution to monitor all devices for suspicious activity. Companies should also make sure to have an incident response plan in place — and practice and test it regularly — to quickly recover if they do suffer a ransomware infection.

More from

Passwords, passkeys and familiarity bias

5 min read - As passkey (passwordless authentication) adoption proceeds, misconceptions abound. There appears to be a widespread impression that passkeys may be more convenient and less secure than passwords. The reality is that they are both more secure and more convenient — possibly a first in cybersecurity.Most of us could be forgiven for not realizing passwordless authentication is more secure than passwords. Thinking back to the first couple of use cases I was exposed to — a phone operating system (OS) and a…

DOD establishes Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy

2 min read - The federal government recently took a new step toward prioritizing cybersecurity and demonstrating its commitment to reducing risk. On March 20, 2024, the Pentagon formally established the new Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy to supervise cyber policy for the Department of Defense. The next day, President Joe Biden announced Michael Sulmeyer as his nominee for the role.“In standing up this office, the Department is giving cyber the focus and attention that Congress intended,” said Acting…

Unpacking the NIST cybersecurity framework 2.0

4 min read - The NIST cybersecurity framework (CSF) helps organizations improve risk management using common language that focuses on business drivers to enhance cybersecurity.NIST CSF 1.0 was released in February 2014, and version 1.1 in April 2018. In February 2024, NIST released its newest CSF iteration: 2.0. The journey to CSF 2.0 began with a request for information (RFI) in February 2022. Over the next two years, NIST engaged the cybersecurity community through analysis, workshops, comments and draft revision to refine existing standards…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today