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Beware of the black cat: Dangerous ransomware on the prowl

BlackCat is a ransomware family that surfaced in mid-November 2021 and it has quickly gained notoriety for its sophistication and innovation, posing a major risk.

Gladstone, Chief Mouser to HM Treasury. Image by HM Treasury under CC licence.
Gladstone, Chief Mouser to HM Treasury. Image by HM Treasury under CC licence.

During February 2022,  Swissport was hit by a ransomware attack and the consequence of this led to flight delays and service disruption. BlackCat ransomware has now claimed they were behind the attack and stole data containing images of passports, internal business memos and personal information of job candidates.

Dubbed by some security analysts to be the “most sophisticated” ransomware group of 2021, BlackCat ransomware has already become quite infamous within the cybersecurity community. Earlier in February, some of its members confirmed the group was linked to the notorious BlackMatter operation. After this attack, it is likely the group will continue to strike, aiming for larger corporations or even government organizations.

READ MORE: New Mexico prison forced offline due to ransomware attack

Commenting on the activities of this group for Digital Journal is JP Perez-Etchegoyen, CTO at Onapsis. Perez-Etchegoyen outlines some of the possible methods of future attacks.

Perez-Etchegoyen considers the nature and complexity of the recent attack: “This attack further confirms that BlackCat ransomware is a highly sophisticated threat group that has become increasingly dangerous. Now with access to sensitive data like passports numbers, full names, and emails, it’s highly likely that BlackCat will be conducting additional malicious activities for monetary gain.”

Perez-Etchegoyen  adds that one reason why the attacks are successful is based on the detailed knowledge that the group members possess about business information technology. According to the analyst: “Recent research shows that BlackCat ransomware incorporates knowledge about SAP business applications to properly function. This is of particular concern, as business-critical applications, like those from SAP, contain vital data (financial, customer, product, employee, etc.) that keep enterprises running.”

Whilst these applications have transformed the way businesses operate, they can also introduce unnecessary risk if not properly managed and secured. Here Perez-Etchegoyen points out an additional vulnerability connected to updating SAP and other important systems: “Organizations are not purposeful when it comes to securing these applications, opening significant security gaps. This makes threats like ransomware far more dangerous, as attackers often seek to exploit unpatched business-critical applications to steal valuable data.”

There are different measures that can be adopted, and Perez-Etchegoyen presents these as: “To protect their mission-critical applications and their business from sophisticated ransomware groups like BlackCat, it’s crucial for enterprises to assess all systems in their SAP landscape for any cyber threats, including missing patches, broad authorizations, insecure integrations or misconfigurations, and immediately apply all relevant mitigations.” Lastly, Perez-Etchegoyen recommends: “Furthermore, they must incorporate a business-critical application security program into their overall cybersecurity strategy to ensure these applications are effectively and comprehensively protected.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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