The Unrelenting Menace of the LockBit Ransomware Gang

The Unrelenting Menace of the LockBit Ransomware Gang

High-profile ransomware attacks have become a fact of life in recent years, and it’s not unusual to hear about major monthly attacks perpetrated by Russia-based gangs and their affiliates. But since late 2019, one group has been steadily making a name for itself on a multi-year rampage that has impacted hundreds of organizations around the world. The LockBit ransomware gang may not be the most wildly unhinged of these criminal groups, but its callous persistence, effectiveness, and professionalism make it sinister in its own way.

One of the most prolific ransomware groups ever, the LockBit collective has attempted to maintain a low profile in spite of its volume of attacks. But as it has grown, the group has gotten more aggressive and perhaps careless. Earlier this month, the LockBit malware was notably used in an attack on the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail that hobbled operations. After other recent visible attacks, like one on a Canadian children’s hospital, all eyes are now on LockBit.   

“They are the most notorious ransomware group, because of sheer volume. And the reason for their success is that the leader is a good businessman,” says Jon DiMaggio, chief security strategist at Analyst1 who has studied LockBit’s operations extensively. “It’s not that he’s got this great leadership capability. They made a point-and-click ransomware that anyone could use, they update their software, they’re constantly looking for user feedback, they care about their user experience, they poach people from rival gangs. He runs it like a business, and because of that, it is very, very attractive to criminals.”

Keep It Professional

For the Royal Mail, LockBit was a chaos agent. On January 11, the UK postal service’s international shipping ground to a halt after being hit with a cyberattack. For more than a week, the company has told customers not to send new international parcels—adding further disorganization after workers went on strike over pay and conditions. The attack was later linked to LockBit.

Just before Christmas, a LockBit member attacked the SickKids hospital in Canada, impacting its internal systems and phone lines, causing delays to medical images and lab tests. The group quickly backtracked after the attack, providing a free decryptor and saying it had blocked the member responsible. In October, LockBit also demanded an unusually high $60 million payment from a UK car dealership chain. 

Adding to its infamy, LockBit is also one of the most prolific and aggressive ransomware groups when it comes to targeting manufacturing and industrial control systems. Security firm Dragos estimated in October that in the second and third quarters of 2022, the LockBit malware was used in 33 percent of ransomware attacks on industrial organizations and 35 percent of those against infrastructure.

In November, the US Department of Justice reported that LockBit’s ransomware has been used against at least 1,000 victims worldwide, including in the United States. “LockBit members have made at least $100 million in ransom demands and have extracted tens of millions of dollars in actual ransom payments from their victims,” the Justice Department wrote. The FBI first began investigating the group in early 2020. In February 2022, the agency released an alert warning that LockBit “employs a wide variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), creating significant challenges for defense.”


via Wired

January 24, 2023 at 04:12AM

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