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Critical infrastructure targeted by new “Agenda” ransomware

Researchers have released details that the ransomware group known as Agenda have developed a variant of their existing ransomware written in the RUST programming language targeting large scale manufacturing and IT industries.

Previously written using Go-lang (Go programming language) and seen targeting the healthcare and education sector, this latest variant has been seen to have shifted their focus to manufacturing and IT.

The Ransomware-as-a-Service boom has seen various groups develop their pre-existing tools to increase their lifespan, rather than design a new malware tool from scratch. Hive, BlackCat, and RansomExx have all been seen to develop pre-existing malware by re-writing their malware in RUST.

Agenda (also known as Qilin) have also chosen to follow the tactic by Royal Ransomware of expanding the use of partial/intermittent encryption.

This method is becoming more popular due to the increased speed with which threat actors can render files as unrecoverable to the victim by only encrypting parts of files. It also avoids flagging certain detection tools, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful attack.

It was the healthcare and education sector in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Thailand that were targeted by Agenda back in August 2022.

However, the group have recently posted victims on their leak site from major manufacturing and IT organisations with a combined revenue above $550m.

The group have previously followed the double extortion method whereby the encrypted data is rendered unusable until a ransom is paid for a decryption key and the company details are then added to the groups leak site on the dark web with samples of the extracted files and threats to release the full data if the ransom isn’t paid.

The sample file recently analysed by Trend-Micro was detected as Ransom.Win32.AGENDA.THIAFBB and they advise that the extension “MmXReVIxLV” is added to each of the encrypted files before the ransom note is dropped into any affected directories.

Although not yet seen to target any government or law enforcement, Agenda’s pivot towards critical infrastructure may, at some point, lead to impacting a service which organisations rely on, potentially as a third-party service provider.



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