Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

7/10/2019
04:05 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

New Ransomware Targets QNAP's Network-Attached Storage Devices

More than 19,000 systems in the US are potentially at risk from eCh0raix.

Researchers at Anomali have spotted a new ransomware strain that is targeting users of QNAP Systems' network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

The operators of the malware appear to be gaining access to the devices either by brute-forcing weak credentials or by exploiting known vulnerabilities in them. However, the exact infection vector remains unclear for the moment, the security vendor said in an advisory released Wednesday.

The ransomware, dubbed eCh0raix, seems designed for targeted attacks and not just for mass distribution. Hard-coded encryption keys in some samples of the malware that Anomali analyzed appeared to have unique decryption keys associated with them, meaning the same decryptor would not work for all victims.

Taiwan-based QNAP is a relatively major player in the NAS market worldwide.

"We have seen a fully 'offline' version and a version that reaches out to the C2 server to fetch the bitcoin wallet and public key before it starts," says Joakim Kennedy, threat intelligence manager at Anomali.

The online version alerts its command-and-control server when it starts and finishes encrypting files on an infected device. However, the information that is sent back to the C2 server does not contain any tracking data that would reveal the identity of the victim to the attacker.

The offline version, on the other hand, has the encryption information embedded in the malware and seems compiled for specific targets. The hard-coded public key in these samples is used to encrypt the AES key that encrypts and decrypts the files, Kennedy says.

eCh0raix is the latest example of ransomware being used in targeted attacks. Numerous security vendors have reported a substantial decline in general ransomware activity in the last few months. However, at the same time, there has been a sharp increase in attacks targeting enterprise organizations.

In its "2019 Internet Security Threat Report," Symantec noted ransomware infections on endpoints dropping by 20% in 2018 compared with the year before — the first drop in volume since 2013. Significantly, though, 81% of all ransomware infections last year involved enterprises — a sharp reversal from a few years ago when consumers were the primary targets.

Poorly Protected Systems
With eCh0raix, the threat actor behind it is targeting QNAP NAS devices that people use for backups and file storage purposes. Such devices typically do not run antivirus or anti-malware products, which means eCH0raix is able to run on them with little risk of being detected. The samples that Anomali analyzed were detected by just two or three anti-malware tools on VirusTotal, Anomali said.

It's unclear if the operators of eCh0raix are targeting older QNAP devices or more recent ones, but it is likely they are scanning the Internet for accessible devices. Based on Anomali's own Internet-wide scans, there appears to be currently over 19,000 publicly facing QNAP devices in the US. It's unclear how many of these devices are deployed in enterprise organizations, Kennedy says.

What makes the malware interesting is that it is targeting NAS devices, Kennedy notes. Besides having relatively little protection, such devices are usually used to store important files and backups especially in enterprise settings. Therefore, NAS devices present a potentially lucrative target for ransomware authors, he says. 

Some victims of the malware have reported seeing a high number of failed login attempts just before being infected, suggesting a brute-force credential attack. Others have reported their systems as not being fully patched, suggesting the attackers may be exploiting vulnerabilities on QNAP NAS devices.

From a technical standpoint, eCh0raix is a fairly basic ransomware tool written in the Go programming language. Before the malware executes, it kills off several processes on the infected machine and looks for certain files to avoid, such as /boot/, /proc/, /sys/, /run/, and /dev/, Anomali said. It then looks for and encrypts all data, image, media, and memory dump-related files on the system.

The malware is another reminder for enterprises to lock down all their Internet-facing assets, Kennedy says. "Organizations should perform asset management and ensure that only necessary devices are publicly facing," he says. "Strong login credentials should be used and systems should be kept updated with the latest patches to ensure that exploitation is less likely."

Related Content:

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/10/2020
Researcher Finds New Office Macro Attacks for MacOS
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/7/2020
Healthcare Industry Sees Respite From Attacks in First Half of 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  8/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: It's a technique known as breaking out of the sandbox kids.
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20383
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
ABBYY network license server in ABBYY FineReader 15 before Release 4 (aka 15.0.112.2130) allows escalation of privileges by local users via manipulations involving files and using symbolic links.
CVE-2020-24348
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
njs through 0.4.3, used in NGINX, has an out-of-bounds read in njs_json_stringify_iterator in njs_json.c.
CVE-2020-24349
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
njs through 0.4.3, used in NGINX, allows control-flow hijack in njs_value_property in njs_value.c. NOTE: the vendor considers the issue to be "fluff" in the NGINX use case because there is no remote attack surface.
CVE-2020-7360
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
An Uncontrolled Search Path Element (CWE-427) vulnerability in SmartControl version 4.3.15 and versions released before April 15, 2020 may allow an authenticated user to escalate privileges by placing a specially crafted DLL file in the search path. This issue was fixed in version 1.0.7, which was r...
CVE-2020-24342
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
Lua through 5.4.0 allows a stack redzone cross in luaO_pushvfstring because a protection mechanism wrongly calls luaD_callnoyield twice in a row.