05/17/2017 (Wed) 21:19:38
SECURITYWEEKWannaCry Ransomware Creators Make Rookie Mistake
By Ionut Arghire on May 17, 2017 http://www.securityweek.com/wannacry-ransomware-creators-make-rookie-mistake
WannaCry Ransomware Didn't Utilize Trackable Bitcoin Wallets A bug in the WannaCry ransomware prevented the malicious application from generating individual Bitcoin wallets to collect payments from each of its victims, security researchers have discovered. WannaCry began wreaking havoc worldwide on May 12, courtesy of a worm component abusing the NSA-linked EternalBlue exploit. Targeting an already addressed Windows SMB vulnerability, the exploit allowed an otherwise typical run-of-the-mill ransomware to become an international threat within hours. An earlier WannaCry version appears connected to North Korean threat group Lazarus, but the variant used in the still ongoing campaign has nothing out of the ordinary, researchers say. In fact, researchers have already discovered bugs in the malware's code, although the encryption routine hasn’t been cracked as of now. In a recent tweet, Symantec Security Response reveals that a race condition bug prevented the malware from using a unique Bitcoin address for every victim. The issue resulted in the ransomware using only three wallets for collecting ransom payments, which prevents its operators from tracking the payments to specific victims. #WannaCry has code to provide unique bitcoin address for each victim but defaults to hardcoded addresses as a result of race condition bug — Security Response (@threatintel) May 16, 2017 Security experts have warned countless of times against paying the ransom in the event of a ransomware attack, as making payment does not guarantee that files would be restored. When it comes to the WannaCry attack, it is unlikely that victims would get their files back after paying the ransom. More than 260 payments have been made to the three Bitcoin addresses associated with the ransomware, allowing the crooks to collect an estimated $78,000 to date from this campaign alone. According to a recent tweet from Symantec, WannaCry attackers released a version that fixed the Bitcoin bug soon after the original variant, but most infections contain the flaw. However, the attempt to resolve the bug shows that the hackers’ “main goal was to make money,” the security firm says. Patches, malware and kill-switch slowed the infection Over 200,000 computers are estimated to have been hit by the ransomware, but that number could have been much higher if it wasn’t for several conditions, starting with the fact that the attack unfolded heading into a weekend, when many vulnerable computers were offline. Microsoft issuing an emergency patch to address the flaw in older Windows versions also helped. In a rather strange twist of events, a crypto-currency mining botnet that has been spreading using the very same vulnerability might have limited WannaCry’s infection as well. Dubbed Adylkuzz, the botnet blocks SMB networking immediately after infection, thus preventing other malware from compromising the machine using EternalBlue. More importantly, a great deal of attacks were stopped because security researcher @MalwareTechBlog registered a domain the ransomware would beacon to before starting the infection. The domain acts as a kill-switch, as the malware terminates its process when receiving a response from it. A WannaCry variant with no kill-switch was also observed, apparently patched in a hex editor. While that variant was supposedly the work of the same cybercriminals, because no change was made to the hardcoded Bitcoin wallets, newer samples feature different addresses, Bitdefender senior e-threat analyst Bogdan Botezatu told SecurityWeek. These variations are believed to come from different crooks and they too were patched on the fly (not recompiled), Botezatu said....