LOCKBIT Black's Legacy: Unraveling the DragonForce Ransomware Connection

Key takeaways from the Cyble Research & Intelligence Labs (CRIL) report on DragonForce ransomware reveal significant insights. CRIL identified DragonForce ransomware as being based on LOCKBIT Black ransomware, suggesting that the threat actors behind DragonForce utilized a leaked builder of LOCKBIT Black to generate their binary. This discovery was made after an X user shared the download link for the LockBit ransomware builder in September 2022. DragonForce ransomware surfaced in November 2023, employing double extortion tactics and targeting victims worldwide. Despite the existence of a hacktivist group called DragonForce based in Malaysia, it remains unclear if they are connected to the ransomware. The ransomware's operations began with the public disclosure of victim details on a cybercrime forum, and to date, information about over 25 victims has been disclosed.

Security Officer Comments:
The report also highlights technical analysis, including striking similarities between the DragonForce and LOCKBIT ransomware binaries, termination of processes and services upon execution, file encryption, and ransom note distribution. This discovery underscores the threat posed by leaked malware-building tools and emphasizes the importance of cybersecurity best practices to prevent ransomware attacks and mitigate their impact.

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.