Spain Warns of LockBit Locker Ransomware Phishing Attacks

Cyber Security Threat Summary:
The Spanish National Police has issued an alert about an active ransomware campaign known as 'LockBit Locker,' which is currently targeting architecture firms in the country using phishing emails. According to the translated police statement, a series of emails have been identified as being sent to architecture companies. However, there is also the possibility that the campaign could expand its scope to target other industries. The police notice highlights that the campaign's level of sophistication is notably high, catching victims off-guard until their devices are encrypted. Spain's cyber police have observed that a significant number of these emails originate from the fictitious domain "” and impersonate a photography company.

The threat actors masquerade as a recently established photography store and request an architecture firm to provide a renovation/development plan along with a cost estimate for the project. After a series of email exchanges to establish credibility, the LockBit operators suggest arranging a meeting to discuss project details and the budget. They also send an attachment containing documents outlining the renovation specifics. While the Spanish police announcement lacks technical intricacies, a sample reviewed by BleepingComputer reveals that this attachment is in the form of a disk image (.img) file. Opening this file on newer Windows versions results in automatic mounting as a drive letter, displaying the file's contents. “These archives contain a folder named 'fotoprix' that includes numerous Python files, batch files, and executables. The archive also contains a Windows shortcut named 'Caracteristicas,' that, when launched, will execute a malicious Python script. BleepingComputer's analysis shows that the executed Python script will check if the user is an admin of the device, and if so, make modifications to the system for persistence and then executes the 'LockBit Locker' ransomware to encrypt files.” (BleepingComputer, 2023).

Security Officer Comments:
The Spanish police commend the attacks' sophistication, convincing victims they're interacting with genuine parties discussing architectural projects. Despite claims of affiliation with LockBit, BleepingComputer suggests different actors using the leaked LockBit 3.0 ransomware builder. Regular LockBit uses Tor, while 'LockBit Locker' negotiates via email or Tox. Intezer links the ransomware to BlackMatter, which rebranded from ALPHV/BlackCat, aligning with LockBit 3.0's shared code. BleepingComputer notes the sophisticated phishing and social engineering, implying diverse strategies for various sectors. Common phishing tactics, mimicking agencies, now concerningly appear in major ransomware attacks, aiding them against anti-phishing training.

Suggested Correction(s):
Backup your data, system images, and configurations, regularly test them, and keep the backups offline: Ensure that backups are regularly tested and that they are not connected to the business network, as many ransomware variants try to find and encrypt or delete accessible backups. Maintaining current backups offline is critical because if your network data is encrypted with ransomware, your organization can restore systems.

Update and patch systems promptly: This includes maintaining the security of operating systems, applications, and firmware in a timely manner. Consider using a centralized patch management system; use a risk- based assessment strategy to drive your patch management program.

Test your incident response plan: There's nothing that shows the gaps in plans more than testing them. Run through some core questions and use those to build an incident response plan: Are you able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Would you turn off your manufacturing operations if business systems such as billing were offline?

Check Your Security Team's Work: Use a 3rd party pen tester to test the security of your systems and your ability to defend against a sophisticated attack. Many ransomware criminals are aggressive and sophisticated and will find the equivalent of unlocked doors. Segment your networks: There's been a recent shift in ransomware attacks – from stealing data to disrupting operations. It's critically important that your corporate business functions and manufacturing/production operations are separated and that you carefully filter and limit internet access to operational networks, identify links between these networks and develop workarounds or manual controls to ensure ICS networks can be isolated and continue operating if your corporate network is compromised. Regularly test contingency plans such as manual controls so that safety critical functions can be maintained during a cyber incident.

Train employees: Email remains the most vulnerable attack vector for organizations. Users should be trained how to avoid and spot phishing emails. Multi Factor authentication can help prevent malicious access to sensitive services.