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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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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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