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Game Over for GandCrab: New free decryption tool allows victims to unlock all versions of this ransomware

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Ransomware attacks up their game _ and ransom demands
The average ransom demand is up to almost $13,000, compared with $6,700 just a few months ago.

A new decryption tool that counters one of the most prolific families of ransomware by allowing victims to retrieve their files for free has been released in a collaborative effort by Europol, the FBI, cybersecurity company Bitdefender, and others.

The latest version of the GandCrab decryptor neutralises the most recent incarnations of the file-locking malware – GandCrab 5.0 through to GandCrab 5.2 – as well as allowing users to retrieve files encrypted by older versions of the ransomware.

It’s thought that over 1.5 million Windows users have been infected with GandCrab since it first emerged in January 2018, with both home and business networks falling victim to attacks by what Europol describes as “one of the most aggressive forms of ransomware”.

SEE: What is ransomware? Everything you need to know about one of the biggest menaces on the web

The cyber criminals behind GandCrab claim that the ransomware has extorted over $2 billion from victims who’ve given in and paid to receive the decryption key to get their files back – although researchers say the figure is likely an exaggeration.

Helped along by an affiliate model that allowed low-level cyber criminals to buy ready-made kits that made attacks easy to distribute, in exchange for 40% of the cut going to the authors, GandCrab at one point accounted for over half of all ransomware infections.

Several free decryption tools have been released to combat GandCrab over the past 18 months – something which Bitdefender and partner law enforcement agencies say has helped over 30,000 victims and prevented more than $50m being paid to the attackers.

The latest GandCrab decryptor has been released by Bitdefender in partnership with Europol, Romanian Police, DIICOT, FBI, the UK’s National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police, as well as police forces across Europe.

The tool is available to download from both Bitdefender Labs and the No More Ransom project. The latter is a joint scheme by a large number of cybersecurity companies, governments and law enforcement agencies, which provide free decryption tools for many different forms of ransomware.

The latest version of the GandCrab decryptor comes shortly after the creators of the ransomware announced that they plan to retire, claiming to have pocketed hundreds of millions from the malware.

“We can safely assume that 5.2 will be the last ransomware version ever from the GandCrab team”, Bogdan Botezatu, director of threat research and reporting at Bitdefender told ZDNet.

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)  

While affiliates can still distribute GandCrab for now, the shutdown of the operation means that it won’t be profitable for much longer. However, it could still potentially cause issues for victims, not only via causing infections, but once GandCrab operations have ceased, it means even if victims pay ransom demands, they won’t get their files back.

“The GandCrab team has stopped affiliates from accessing new versions of the malware and has urged them to prepare for an imminent shutdown. The shutdown will be followed by deletion of all keys, leaving the victims unable to retrieve the ransomed data even if they do pay the ransom,” said Botezatu.

Despite the end of GandCrab, ransomware remains a large threat to organisations, with several high-profile attacks in recent months highlighting the danger posed.

To avoid falling victim to ransomware in the first place, researchers recommend that all software and applications are patched and up-to-date to avoid attackers being able to take advantage of known vulnerabilities. It’s also recommended that organisations frequently backup their systems, so if a ransomware infection does occur, the network can be restored from a recent backup.

Cybersecurity companies and law enforcement agencies warn that victims shouldn’t give into the demands of attackers – not only does it fund crime, but attackers could label those who pay up as soft targets and strike again at a later date.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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