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Ukraine Says Russian Hacktivists Use New Somnia Ransomware

Russian hacktivists have infected multiple organizations in Ukraine with a new ransomware strain called ‘Somnia,’ encrypting their systems and causing operational problems. The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) has confirmed the outbreak via an announcement on its portal, attributing the attacks to ‘From Russia with Love’ (FRwL), also known as ‘Z-Team,’ whom they track as UAC-0118. The group previously disclosed creating the Somnia ransomware on Telegram and even posted evidence of attacks against tank producers in Ukraine. According to CERT-UA, the hacking group uses fake sites that mimic the ‘Advanced IP Scanner’ software to trick Ukrainian organization employees into downloading an installer. In reality, the installer infects the system with the Vidar stealer, which steals the victim’s Telegram session data to take control of their account. Next, CERT-UA says that the threat actors abused the victim’s Telegram account in some unspecified manner to steal VPN connection data (authentication and certificates). If the VPN account isn’t protected by two-factor authentication, the hackers use it to gain unauthorized access to the victim’s employer’s corporate network. Next, the intruders deploy a Cobalt Strike beacon, exfiltrate data, and use Netscan, Rclone, Anydesk, and Ngrok to perform various surveillance and remote access activities. CERT-UA reports that since the spring of 2022, with the help of initial access brokers, FRwL has carried out several attacks on computers belonging to Ukrainian organizations. The agency also notes that the latest samples of the Somnia ransomware strain used in these attacks rely on the AES algorithm, whereas Somnia initially used the symmetric 3DES.

Analyst Notes

To protect against ransomware attacks, organizations should:
• Regularly back up data, air gap, and password protect backup copies offline.
• Ensure copies of critical data are not accessible for modification or deletion from the system where the data resides.
• Implement network segmentation.
• Implement a recovery plan to maintain and retain multiple copies of sensitive or proprietary data and servers in a physically separate, segmented, secure location (i.e., hard drive, storage device, the cloud).
• Install updates/patch operating systems, software, and firmware as soon as practical after they are released. Implement monitoring of security events on employee workstations and servers, with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to detect threats and respond quickly.
• Use multifactor authentication where possible.
• Use strong passwords and regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts, implementing the shortest acceptable timeframe for password changes.
• Avoid reusing passwords for multiple accounts.
• Focus on cyber security awareness and training.
• Regularly provide users with training on information security principles and techniques as well as overall emerging cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.