Fancy Bear imposters are on a hacking extortion spree

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Travelex did not pay the ransom this time and as an alternative weathered a DDoS assault the hackers launched as a kind of warning shot after which a second barrage. “Whoever’s behind this probably thought that Travelex must be a soft target based on what happened at the beginning of the year,” says Greg Otto, a researcher at Intel471. “But why would you hit a company that has probably gone through the effort to shore up their security? I understand the logic, but also I just think there are holes in that logic.” Travelex didn’t return a request from WIRED for remark in regards to the August extortion try.

Extortion DDoS assaults have by no means been particularly worthwhile for scammers, as a result of they don’t have the visceral urgency of one thing like ransomware, when the goal is already hobbled and could also be determined to revive entry. And although this has at all times been a weak spot of the technique, the threats are doubtlessly even much less potent now that sturdy DDoS protection companies have change into widespread and comparatively cheap.

“Generally speaking, DDoS as an extortion method isn’t as profitable as other types of digital extortion,” says Robert McArdle, director of forward-looking menace analysis at Trend Micro. “It’s a threat to do something as opposed to the threat that you’ve already done it. It’s like saying, ‘I might burn your house down next week.’ It’s a lot different when the house is on fire in front of you.”

Given the spotty effectiveness of extortion DDoS, attackers are invoking the infamous state-backed hacking teams in an try so as to add urgency and stakes. “They’re fear-mongers,” says Otto. And the assaults possible work a minimum of often, provided that attackers preserve returning to the approach. For instance, Radware famous that along with impersonating Fancy Bear and Lazarus Group, attackers have additionally been going by the title “Armada Collective,” a moniker that extortion DDoS actors have invoked quite a few instances in recent times. It’s unclear whether or not the actors behind this incarnation of Armada Collective have any connection to previous generations.

Though most organizations with assets for digital protection can shield themselves successfully towards DDoS assaults, researchers say it’s nonetheless necessary to take these threats significantly and really spend money on sturdy protections. The FBI strengthened this message in a bulletin firstly of September about actors pretending to be Fancy Bear. It reported that firstly of August, hundreds of establishments world wide started receiving extortion notes.

“Most institutions that reached the six-day mark did not report any additional activity or the activity was successfully mitigated,” the FBI wrote. “However, several prominent institutions did report follow-on activity that impacted operations.”

While the assaults is probably not as crippling for many targets as ransomware might be, they nonetheless pose a nagging menace to organizations that do not have sufficient DDoS defenses in place. And with so many different varieties of threats to navigate, it is simple to think about that the scare techniques may work usually sufficient to make all of it price attackers’ whereas.

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