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Bandai Namco finally confirms massive cyber attack as ransomware outfit claims responsibility

AlphV/BlackCat claims "data is coming soon" to its deep web blog in a suspected double-extortion ransomware attack

Bandai Namco has finally confirmed it's been the victim of a cyber attack after rumours of a security breach began circulating earlier this week.

The video gaming giant confirmed “several” of the group’s companies in Asian regions, excluding Japan, were breached by a third party on 3 July 2022, although it failed to clarify whether the nature of the attack was ransomware, as is widely suspected.

Earlier reports suggested that the ransomware group that goes by the names AlphV and BlackCat were behind a large ransomware attack on the company.

Screenshot of Bandai Namco's page on BlackCat's ransomware victim blog

Bandai Namco appeared on the cyber criminal operation’s deep web blog as of Monday morning with a note to say “data coming soon”, suggesting that AlphV/BlackCat continued its modus operandi of double extorting victims.

Double extortion is a newer business model for ransomware operators to combat the rise in companies refusing to pay a ransom and instead recovering from backups.

This method sees the criminals quietly breach an organisation, steal some sensitive information, and threaten to leak it if the ransom isn’t paid. It was borne out of the knowledge that a business would risk reputational and financial damage in the form of regulatory fines if they refused to pay and the data was ultimately leaked.

“After we confirmed the unauthorised access, we have taken measures such as blocking access to the servers to prevent the damage from spreading,” said Bandai Namco in a statement

“In addition, there is a possibility that customer information related to the Toys and Hobby Business in Asian regions (excluding Japan) was included in the servers and PCs, and we are currently identifying the status about [the] existence of leakage, scope of the damage, and investigating the cause.”

The company added that investigations are ongoing and it will publish the results at an “appropriate” time. It also said it will be engaging outside experts to strengthen its cyber security posture with a view to preventing further attacks in the future.

“We offer our sincerest apologies to everyone involved for any complications or concerns caused by this incident,” it said.

What is the AlphV/BlackCat ransomware group?

Known internally as AlphV, and ‘BlackCat more colloquially by the wider industry, the ransomware group is believed to have begun operations in November 2021. It inherited members of the now-shuttered DarkSide group, which rose to infamy thanks to its landmark attack on Colonial Pipeline last year.

Since it was first discovered late last year, Russia-linked BlackCat has claimed attacks on a wide number of victims, including an array of international universities, Swissport, and Moncler.

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It's also the first known ransomware group to rewrite its payload using Rust, a trend that’s recently been continued by Costa Rica hackers Hive.

The programming language has become a new favourite for ransomware criminals thanks to its anti-analysis properties, and its fast and safe performance.

The FBI was also prompted to release a security advisory in April pertaining to the group after it amassed a 60-strong list of victims in just five months in active operation. 

Last week, BlackCat also attracted headlines for becoming one of the first ransomware gangs to create a database filled with victims’ data that onlookers could query at will. 

It was seen as an additional fear tactic to pressure double-extorted victims to pay the ransom demanded by the group after being breached.

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