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FIN11 hackers jump into the ransomware money-making scheme


FIN11, a financially-motivated hacker group with a history starting since at least 2016, has adapted malicious email campaigns to transition to ransomware as the main monetization method.

The group runs high-volume operations, lately targeting companies primarily in North America and Europe from almost every industry sector to steal data and to deploy Clop ransomware.

Malicious campaigns in the early history of the gang focused on organizations in the financial, retail, and restaurant sector. Over the past couple of years, FIN11’s attacks are more indiscriminate both in terms of the victim type and geography.

Starting August, the cybercriminals attacked organizations in the defence, energy, finance, healthcare/pharmaceutical, legal, telecommunications, technology, and transportation sectors.

Security researchers at FireEye’s Mandiant told BleepingComputer that FIN11 targeted its victims with malicious emails distributing a malware downloader they track as FRIENDSPEAK.

They used a variety of lures like remittance documents, invoice delivery, or confidential information about company bonuses with malicious HTML attachments to load content (iframe or embed tags) from a likely a compromised website, often with dated content, indicating abandonment.

Kimberly Goody, Senior Manager of Analysis at Mandiant Threat Intelligence, told us that victims had to complete a CAPTCHA challenge before being served an Excel spreadsheet with malicious macro code.

Once executed, the code delivered FRIENDSPEAK, which downloaded MIXLABEL, another malware believed to be specific to FIN11. The latter was in many cases configured to contact a command and control domain that impersonated the Microsoft Store (us-microsoft-store[.[com)

In one case, they re-compromised the organization via multiple email campaigns a few months later. In another, FIN11 regained access after the company restored infected servers from backups.

The researchers do not specify the FIN11 ransom demands from the incidents they investigated but note that ransomware remediation firm Coveware indicates amounts between a few hundred thousand to $10 million.

Phishing attacks are at their historical peak in effectiveness and there’s no indication that this is going to change. It’s time to provide your users with tools in the form of new school Security Awareness Training to prepare them for when the next phishing attack occurs.

With thanks to the Cyber Defence Alliance and Bleeping Computer The full story is here:

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