The creators of the GandCrab ransomware announced yesterday they were shutting down their Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) operation, ZDNet has learned.
The GandCrab RaaS is an online portal where crooks sign up and pay to get access to custom builds of the GandCrab ransomware, which they later distribute via email spam, exploit kits, or other means.
When an infected user pays a ransom demand, the original GandCrab author earns a small commission, while the rest of the money goes to the crook who distributed the ransomware.
Yesterday night, a source in the malware community has told ZDNet that the GandCrab RaaS operator formally announced plans to shut down their service within a month.
The announcement was made in an official thread on a well-known hacking forum, where the GandCrab RaaS has advertised its service since January 2018, when it formally launched.
In the forum message, the GandCrab authors bragged about the ransomware having earned over $2 billion in ransom payments, with the operators making roughly $2.5 million per week and $150 million per year. It goes without saying that these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.
“We successfully cashed this money and legalized it in various spheres of white business both in real life and on the Internet,” the GandCrab crew bragged.
“We are leaving for a well-deserved retirement,” they said. “We have proved that by doing evil deeds, retribution does not come.”
Our source tells ZDNet that this was the last step in a process that started earlier this week when the GandCrab crew announced RaaS customers via private emails about plans to shut down the service.
Renters of the GandCrab ransomware were told to wind down operations and cash out within the next month.
Plans to delete decryption keys
The forum thread also leaves an ominous message for GandCrab victims, as the GandCrab RaaS operators said they were planning to delete all decryption keys, making file recovery for infected victims impossible.
Some of the security researchers we approached have told ZDNet this could be a ploy to make victims panic and pay the ransom demand. However, they shifted their views when they learned that GandCrab RaaS customers were also told to wind down operations.
In the past, when ransomware operations have shut down, they usually tended to release all victim decryption keys for free so that users could recover their data. Something like this happened for victims of ransomware families such as TeslaCrypt, XData, Crysis, and FilesLocker.
Even the GandCrab crew showed some compassion in the past by releasing free decryption keys for all users infected in war-torn Syria.
GandCrab was on the decline
A chart shared with ZDNet by Michael Gillespie — the creator of ID-Ransomware, a service that lets ransomware victims identify the type of ransomware that has infected their systems — shows a steady decline in GandCrab activity this month.
The chart shows that GandCrab was losing customers even before the shutdown announcement.
Over the past year, the GandCrab ransomware family has been one of the most active ransomware threats around. It was one of the few ransomware strains that were being mass-distributed via email spam and exploit kits, but also as part of targeted attacks against high-profile organizations (a tactic known as big-game hunting) at the same time.
The ransomware has seen frequent updates and is currently at version 5.2, at the time of today’s shutdown.
Cyber-security firm Bitdefender released GandCrab decryptors on three occasions over the past year. These are apps that allow victims to recover encrypted files without paying the ransom. The last one was released in February this year and could decrypt GandCrab versions up to version 5.1 (with the exemption of v2 and v3).
The GandCrab author also had a spat with South Korean security vendor AhnLab last summer after the security firm released a vaccine for the GandCrab ransomware. As retaliation, they included a zero-day for the AhnLab antivirus in the GandCrab code.
Recently, Sophos Labs has observed criminal groups scanning the internet for open MySQL databases running on Windows systems, which they tried to infect with GandCrab. Probably the most high-profile attack that GandCrab was behind is a series of infections at customers of remote IT support firms in the month of February.
If the GandCrab crew follows through on their plans and actually shuts down, their legacy remains as one of a ransomware strain that has dominated the ransomware landscape in the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, when it was, by far, the most active strain on the market.
Related malware and cybercrime coverage:
Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications
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.
When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?
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.”
High Performance Application Security Testing
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.
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