LockBit Ransomware Returns, Restores Servers After Police Disruption

The LockBit ransomware gang has resurfaced less than a week after law enforcement announced that it had taken down the group’s infrastructure, which included 34 servers hosting the data leak website and its mirrors, data stolen from victims, cryptocurrency addresses, decryption keys, and the LockBit affiliate panel. The news comes after the gang moved its data leak portal to a new .onion address over the weekend, with one of LockBit’s administrators publishing a follow-up message addressing the latest takedown by law enforcement. In summary, the message notes that the group failed to keep their systems up to date and believes that a critical PHP flaw (CVE-2023-3824) was exploited to compromise their websites. The administrator also speculated that law enforcement hacked their infrastructure due to the gang targeting Fulton County in January 2024, which allowed the group to gain a hold of sensitive information on former President Donald J. Trump that could potentially impact the upcoming presidential election if leaked.

Security Officer Comments:
In terms of the decryption keys that were obtained by law enforcement, the LockBit administrator notes that these keys were obtained from unprotected decryptors that were typically used by low-level affiliates for smaller ransoms of just $2000. Going forward, the administrator states that LockBit will implement the maximum protection for every build of its encryptor and that there will be no chance of free decryption. In light of the recent takedown, the administrator also threatened to focus on attacks targeting the government sector, directly taunting law enforcement to put more effort into taking down the gang’s operations for good.

Suggested Corrections:
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.