Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CryptoWall 2.0 Ransomware Moves to TOR Network

Dangerous new ransomware variant storms onto the scene using the anonymous TOR network, taking down systems and networks unlucky enough to be caught in its path

Tampa Bay, FL (October 15, 2014) KnowBe4  issued an alert to IT Managers that a  new version of the world's most widespread ransomware CryptoWall has migrated to the TOR network. It has been upgraded to version 2.0, and continues to encrypt files so that a ransom can be extracted if there are no backups or if the backup process fails, often a common occurrence.

KnowBe4, received a panic call from an IT admin who was hit this week with CryptoWall. The admin’s workstation became infected with the malware. The workstation was mapped to 7 servers and within an hour, the entire server farm was shut down. The admin explained he had backups but it would take days to recover the data and get them back up and running. The company’s operations would be severely impacted.

 “The cyber criminals hit pay dirt with this one and the admin ended up paying the ransom, 1.3 Bitcoin, rather than face the serious costs caused by days of downtime, said Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4’s CEO. “This is the next generation of ransomware and you can expect this new version to spread like wildfire.”

 CryptoWall 2.0 went live October 1st and is now using the anonymous TOR network, making it very difficult to analyze or take down. Earlier versions of CryptoWall were not using TOR but HTTP, which allowed researchers to analyze the communication between the infected machine and the command & control server so they could take down the servers that delivered the malware. This version of CryptoWall has been tested for months and the malware uses innovative ways to propagate itself, like using ads on websites that take advantage of  vulnerabilities in browsers and unpatched plug-ins.

Sjouwerman advises these three steps as something IT admins HAVE TO, HAVE TO do:

1. Make regular backups, and have a backup off-site as well. TEST your restore function regularly to make sure your backups actually work.

2. Patch browsers as soon as possible, and keep the amount of plug-ins as low as you can. This diminishes your attack surface.

3. Step all users through effective training on security to prevent malware infections to start with.

 For end users, Sjouwerman advises, “Think before you click. Don’t open anything from someone unless you are expecting it. Hover over an email address to make sure its from a valid domain, one you know and recognize.”