‘Fancy Lazarus’ Cyberattackers Ramp up Ransom DDoS Efforts

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The group, known for masquerading arsenic assorted APT groups, is backmost with a spate of attacks connected U.S. companies.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) extortion radical has blazed backmost connected the cybercrime scene, this clip nether the sanction of “Fancy Lazarus.” It’s been launching a bid of caller attacks that whitethorn oregon whitethorn not person immoderate teeth, researchers said.

The caller sanction is simply a tongue-in-cheek operation of the Russia-linked Fancy Bear precocious persistent menace (APT) and North Korea’s Lazarus Group. The prime seems natural, fixed that the pack was past seen – including successful a large run successful October – purporting to beryllium assorted APTs, including Armada Collective, Fancy Bear and Lazarus Group.

According to Proofpoint, this clip astir the pack has been sending threatening, targeted emails to assorted organizations, including those operating successful the energy, financial, insurance, manufacturing, nationalist utilities and retail sectors – asking for a two-Bitcoin (BTC) starting ransom (around $75,000) if companies privation to debar a crippling DDoS attack. The terms doubles to 4 BTC aft the deadline, and increases by 1 BTC each time aft that. The targets are mostly located successful the U.S.

While it’s hard to marque a definitive correlation, the timing of immoderate of the Fancy Lazarus campaigns correspond with high-profile ransomware attacks implicit the past six months, successful presumption of targeting the aforesaid vertical industries, according to Sherrod DeGrippo, elder manager of menace probe and detection astatine Proofpoint.

“These see utility, earthy state and manufacturing,” she told Threatpost. “This could beryllium an effort to thrust the coattails of high-profile quality stories and effect successful a higher likelihood of payment. Another inclination we person seen implicit the past 4 months are a absorption connected sending these threats to fiscal institutions and ample security providers.”

Email Campaign Details

The emails denote that the enactment is being targeted by Fancy Lazarus, and they endanger a DDoS onslaught successful 7 days if the people doesn’t wage up, according to an investigation connected Thursday from Proofpoint. The messages besides pass of imaginable harm to estimation and nonaccomplishment of net entree astatine offices, and past committedness that a “small attack” volition beryllium launched connected a circumstantial IP, subnet oregon Autonomous System with an onslaught of 2Tbps, arsenic a preview of things to come.

The emails are either successful plain text, HTML-based oregon contiguous the missive successful an embedded .JPG representation – apt a detection-evasion technique, Proofpoint noted.

“The emails are typically sent to good researched recipients, specified arsenic individuals listed arsenic contacts successful Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) oregon Whois accusation for institution networks,” according to Proofpoint’s analysis. “The emailed individuals besides enactment successful areas specified arsenic communications, outer relations, capitalist relations. Additionally, extortion emails are often sent to email aliases specified arsenic assistance desk, abuse, administrative contacts oregon lawsuit service.”

Meanwhile, the sender email is unsocial to each target. They usage a random “first name, past name” normal for the ender, utilizing fake names.

The ransom note. Source: Proofpoint.

Some of this is simply a alteration successful tactics from erstwhile campaigns by the group. For instance, Proofpoint noted that the starting ransom was 10 oregon 20 BTC successful 2020 campaigns – a alteration that was made apt to relationship for exchange-rate fluctuations. In October for instance, a 20-BTC request translated to $230,000.

Also, antecedently the sender names connected the emails often contained the sanction of an APT that was successful the headlines, specified arsenic Fancy Bear; or, they included the targeted company’s CEO name.

Sometimes a Hoax?

It’s chartless whether the radical ever follows done connected its menace to motorboat monolithic DDoS attacks. An FBI alert connected the radical from past August said that portion the radical had taken purpose astatine thousands of organizations from aggregate planetary manufacture verticals by that point, galore of them saw nary further enactment aft the deadline expired – or, they were capable to easy mitigate it.

In immoderate cases though, specified arsenic was the lawsuit with Travelex, “the menace histrion conducted a volumetric onslaught connected a customized larboard of 4 IP addresses serving the company’s subdomains, according to Intel471 researchers writing past year. Two days later, the attackers carried retired different DNS amplification onslaught against Travelex utilizing Google DNS servers, the steadfast reported.

“While FBI reporting indicates they bash not ever travel done connected their menace of a DDoS, determination person been respective salient institutions that person reported an interaction to their operations and different impacted companies person conscionable been palmy astatine mitigating the attacks,” DeGrippo said. “This benignant of behaviour keeps them much intimately aligned with that of a cybercriminal versus a scam artist.”

In immoderate case, it’s important for companies and organizations to beryllium prepared by having due mitigations successful spot specified arsenic utilizing a DDoS extortion work and having catastrophe betterment plans astatine the ready, she added.

Ransom DDoS: A Growing Tactic

Ransom DDoS is not a caller development, but it has go much fashionable of late, according to DeGrippo, acknowledgment to the mainstreaming of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

“While RDDoS existed earlier this benignant of extortion apt did not drawback connected until, successful part, the adoption of cryptocurrency, which allowed the menace actors a safer means to person payment,” she told Threatpost. “These kinds of campaigns person been done successful an organized manner for the past year.”

She added that Fancy Lazarus’ prime to align its ransom request with the fluctuating terms of cryptocurrency is notable.

“As Bitcoin prices fluctuate, we spot immoderate alteration successful their request amounts, proving that cryptocurrency markets and malicious histrion enactment are perfectly correlated,” she said. “This has been the lawsuit since astatine slightest 2016 successful the aboriginal days of large-scale ransomware. Threat actors nonstop their campaigns erstwhile the prices are astir advantageous, attempting to marque much wealth erstwhile the assorted currencies are astatine a precocious valuation. Other actors usage different cryptocurrencies similar Ethereum, but Bitcoin continues to beryllium the massively fashionable coin of prime for malicious menace actors.”

While it’s intolerable to cognize the occurrence complaint of the Fancy Lazarus campaigns, “given the perchance important fiscal payoff for comparatively small enactment connected the menace actor’s part, a debased occurrence complaint would inactive marque this a worthwhile tactic,” DeGrippo noted.

One inclination to ticker is the summation of ransomware to the premix going forward. In February, the REvil ransomware gang started adding DDoS attacks to its efforts, successful an effort to ratchet up the unit to pay.

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