IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

MountLocker ransomware now working through criminal affiliates

Ransomware-as-a-service could become a major threat, warns BlackBerry researchers

Security researchers have warned of a new strain of ransomware that uses affiliates to spread the malware

In a blog post, researchers at BlackBerry said that MountLocker has been available as ransomware as a service since July and was updated in November to broaden the file types it targeted and evade security software.

The malware itself, at less than 100Kb in size, is lightweight and simple in construction. It is typically deployed as either an x86 or x64 Windows portable executable (PE) file, although occasionally as a Microsoft Installer (MSI) package.

The ransomware encrypts data of victims and demands Bitcoin as ransom. The hackers also threaten to leak stolen information if money is not received.

BlackBerry researchers said that the ransomware uses an affiliate scheme to find victims. Its investigations found that threat actors often used remote desktop (RDP) with compromised credentials to gain access to a victim’s environment. In one instance, after establishing a foothold in an organisation, there was a delay of several days before activity resumed.

“It is likely that the threat actors were negotiating with the MountLocker operators to join their affiliate program and obtain the ransomware during this pause. Upon obtaining the MountLocker ransomware, the threat actors were observed returning with several “public” tools, including CobaltStrike Beacon and AdFind from Joeware,” researchers said.

Blackberry noted that only five victims are listed on MountLocker's "News & Leaks" site hosted on the darknet, but are likely to increase.

Researchers said that the operators behind MountLocker are “clearly just warming up”.

"After a slow start in July, they are rapidly gaining ground, as the high-profile nature of extortion and data leaks drive ransom demands ever higher. MountLocker affiliates are typically fast operators, rapidly exfiltrating sensitive documents and encrypting them across key targets in a matter of hours,” they said.

Featured Resources

Join the 90% of enterprises accelerating to the cloud

Business transformation through digital modernisation

Free Download

Delivering on demand: Momentum builds toward flexible IT

A modern digital workplace strategy

Free download

Modernise the workforce experience

Actionable insights and an optimised experience for both IT and end users

Free Download

The digital workplace roadmap

A leader's guide to strategy and success

Free Download

Recommended

Protecting healthcare from cybercrime
Whitepaper

Protecting healthcare from cybercrime

25 May 2022
The truth about cyber security training
Whitepaper

The truth about cyber security training

25 Apr 2022
The truth about cyber security training
Whitepaper

The truth about cyber security training

25 Apr 2022
The Total Economic Impact™ of Mimecast
Whitepaper

The Total Economic Impact™ of Mimecast

25 Apr 2022

Most Popular

Actively exploited server backdoor remains undetected in most organisations' networks
cyber attacks

Actively exploited server backdoor remains undetected in most organisations' networks

1 Jul 2022
Former Uber security chief to face fraud charges over hack coverup
data breaches

Former Uber security chief to face fraud charges over hack coverup

29 Jun 2022
Why India wants to become a chipmaking powerhouse
components

Why India wants to become a chipmaking powerhouse

28 Jun 2022