Threat Actors Impersonate Oil and Gas Companies in Latest Shade Ransomware Attack

Digital criminals tried to impersonate oil and gas companies in a recent attack campaign distributing Shade ransomware.

Between January and February, Yoroi observed an attack campaign leveraging email as an infection vector. Each of the emails came with an attached ZIP file called slavneft.zakaz.zip. The name of this file means “Slavneft order” in English, which includes a direct reference to the Russian oil and gas company PAO NGK Slavneft. Building on this disguise, the ZIP file contained a JavaScript file named «ПАО «НГК «Славнефть» подробности заказа, which translates to “PAO NGK Slavneft order details” in English.

Clicking on the JavaScript file activated a downloader that pulls Shade from one of several compromised websites. At that point, the ransomware payload, which had a VirusTotal detection rate of just 24 out of 69 tools at the time of discovery, encrypted all of the infected machine’s files using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It then created a ransom note, which included instructions for victims to visit a dark web site so they could receive payment instructions from the attackers.

A Busy 2019 for Shade

Yoroi isn’t the only digital defense company that recently detected a new Shade ransomware campaign. In January 2019, ESET witnessed a large uptick in emails containing malicious JavaScript attachments, including those responsible for downloading Shade. In February, Carbon Black observed a similar campaign also leveraging JavaScript attachments to target primarily Russian speakers.

These attacks come at a time when targeted ransomware remains one of the most prominent threats targeting organizations. Europol said as much in 2018 after it observed threat actors turning to targeted ransomware, not banking Trojans, as their preferred payload in financially motivated cyberattacks. This preference contributed to Cybersecurity Ventures‘ estimate that ransomware damages would surpass $8 billion by the end of 2018.

How to Protect Against Shade Ransomware

Security professionals can help defend their organizations against Shade ransomware and similar malware by making sure their endpoint software is up-to-date and all applications are updated to their most secure versions. Organizations should also make sure to isolate their data backup systems so that attackers can’t encrypt these copies in the event of a successful ransomware infection.

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David Bisson

Contributing Editor

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley...