InfoSec News & Investigations

Texas Hit By a Human-Operated Ransomware That Targets against Government Agencies and Enterprises

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May 2020 was not a good month for both the Texas Courts and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) as the month marked the discovery of a new ransomware called Ransom X, being effectively utilized in human-operated and focused on attacks against government agencies and enterprises.

Advanced Intel’s Vitali Kremez discovered a ‘ransom.exx’ which was believed to be the name of the ransomware. As this is human-operated ransomware, as opposed to one distributed by means of phishing or malware, when executed the ransomware opens a console that shows info to the attacker while it is running.

As indicated by Kremez, Ransom.exx works to terminate 289 procedures identified with security software, database servers, MSP softwares, remote access devices, and mail servers.

Ransom X will likewise play out a series of orders all through the encryption process that:
Clear Windows event logs
Delete NTFS journals
Disable System Restore
Disable the Windows Recovery Environment
Delete Windows backup catalogs
Wipe free space from local drives.

The commands executed are listed below:
cipher /w %
s wbadmin.exe delete catalog –quiet 
bcdedit.exe /set {default} recoveryenabled no 
bcdedit.exe /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures 
schtasks.exe /Change /TN “MicrosoftWindowsSystemRestoreSR” /disable 
wevtutil.exe cl Application 
wevtutil.exe cl System 
wevtutil.exe cl Setup 
wevtutil.exe cl Security 
wevtutil.exe sl Security 
/e:false fsutil.exe usn deletejournal /D C: 

The ransomware then starts to encrypt the entirety of the information on the computer and affix a custom extension related to the victim to each encrypted record.

As observed below, the custom extension for the Texas Department of Transportation attack was .txd0t.

Furthermore, when completed, the Ransom X console will show the number of encoded files and how long it took to finish it. In every folder that was scanned during the encryption procedure, a ransom note named![extension]_READ_ME!.txt will be made.

This ransom note incorporates the company name, and email address to contact, and guidelines on the most proficient method to pay the ransom.

As observed below, the ransom note is modified for a certain victim that is enduring an attack, which for this situation is the Texas Department of Transportation.

However, in the case of Texas where the attack made its significant hit it is to be noted that at the hour of the attack, it was not comprehended what ransomware focused on the government agencies.

In any case, because of the limited visibility into this ransomware operation, there is no data with respect to the ransom sums or whether they steal information as a major aspect of the attack.

This ransomware has now been broken down, analyzed, and seems secure, which implies that it is highly unlikely to decrypt the files for nothing.

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