The vicious BlackCat Ransomware

We take a closer look at BlackCat Ransomware, another cyber threat we have to contend with. Learn more about it and how to prevent getting hit.

05-10-2023 - 6 minute read. Posted in: malware.

The vicious BlackCat Ransomware

Ransomware has evolved as one of the most vigorous cyberthreats to people, businesses, and organizations on a global scale. BlackCat ransomware diverges as a particularly evil and destructive strain among the many ransomware variations that have wreaked havoc in recent years.

We'll go into the world of BlackCat ransomware, and look at its history, method of operation, noteworthy attacks, and the precautions you can take to protect yourself from this dangerous threat.

How it all started

Around 2020, BlackCat ransomware made its first appearance in the public eye. It most likely emerged from the murky depths of the criminal underworld of the internet, like many other ransomware variations do. Its name is not random either; it's said to be a reference to both its sneaky and destructive tendencies, evoking the image of a black cat crossing the street, which many see as a bad omen.

BlackCat has changed and adapted over time, using cutting-edge strategies to avoid detection and improve its abilities. Polymorphic coding is one of these strategies, allowing it to alter its code with each attack, making it more difficult for conventional antivirus software to identify it. It poses a continuous and serious threat as its creators are continuously refining their techniques to stay one step ahead of security experts and software.

BlackCat in function

Although BlackCat ransomware functions similarly to many other ransomware varieties, it has some unique features that make it stand out. Usually, it's mode of operation looks like this:

  • Infection: BlackCat ransomware generally infects victims' computers through phishing emails, hijacked websites, or security flaws in outdated software. It starts running its destructive code as soon as it gets inside.

  • Encryption: BlackCat's main objective, like that of any ransomware, is to encrypt the victim's files. It makes the victim's data unavailable by using powerful encryption methods. This comprises written materials, visual materials, and more.

  • BlackCat shows a ransom letter on the victim's screen after encrypting the victim's data. In order to obtain the decryption key from the attackers, the victim should follow the procedures in this letter. The note emphasizes that the data will be destructed if the ransom is not paid.

  • Payment: Usually, victims are asked to transfer cryptocurrency—often Bitcoin or Monero—to an anonymous wallet in order to pay the ransom. Depending on the victim's perceived value, the exact ransom that the hackers demand varies but can be large sums.

  • Decryption: After the ransom is paid, the attackers are required to give the victim the decryption key so they can get their data back. However, there is no assurance that paying the ransom would lead to the files being returned safely, and doing so merely helps the hackers continue their operations.

Victims of BlackCat

Several prominent attacks that received worldwide notice were caused by BlackCat ransomware. The following are a some of the notable incidents caused by BlackCat:

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2021, BlackCat targeted healthcare institutions. Attackers targeted hospitals and medical facilities hard, demanding huge ransom payments to restore infrastructure and vital patient data.

BlackCat assaults have also struck municipal administrations. These attacks caused widespread confusion and discomfort by interfering with crucial services including utilities and emergency response systems.

Power plants and water treatment facilities are just examples of critical facilities that got hit by a BlackCat's attack. These attacks gave rise to grave worries about the risk of extensive damage and disruption.

Major corporations and multinational companies have been attacked, which has caused them to suffer considerable financial losses and reputational damage.

Although businesses are the majority of BlackCat ransomware's victims, individual users have also been affected by these attacks. TheyThese attacks have resulted in the loss of private files, family photos, and crucial documents.

Securing your data

BlackCat ransomware attacks can be avoided with a multifaceted strategy that combines preventative actions with crisis readiness. Below we give you a thorough list of things you can do an implement to protect your organization or yourself from becoming the next victim:

  • Update Software Frequently: Make sure that all software, like operating systems and apps, are updated with the newest security updates. Cybercriminals frequently take advantage of gaps in out-of-date software.

  • Install antivirus software: Use trustworthy antivirus and anti-malware programs to identify and stop ransomware threats. Update these tools frequently for the best defense against the malicious software.

  • Make backups: Your data should be regularly backed up offline or to cloud storage. To avoid backups being compromised during an attack, make sure they are separated from your network.

  • Awareness training: Being educated on phishing emails and other typical attack methods minimizes the risk of falling for the hackers' tricks. Through awareness training employees are taught how to spot suspicious emails.

  • E-mail security: Use modern and updated e-mail security tools that can identify and block harmful links and attachments.

  • Network segmentation: Dividing your network into distinct sections helps preventing hackers to move simultaneously across your networks. By doing this, the effects of a ransomware attack can be reduced significantly.

  • Incident response management (IRM): Make regular tests of an incident response strategy that describes what you do in the event of a ransomware attack. This should outline the steps to isolate impacted systems and notify law enforcement of the event as soon as possible.

  • Foster a culture of cybersecurity within your organization. Encourage employees to report any questionable behaviour immediately.

  • Don't pay the ransom: Experts generally advise against paying ransoms. Paying the ransom doesn't ensure that your data will be returned and only supports cybercriminals to continue their work.

To sum up

The BlackCat ransomware poses a serious and growing threat to cybersecurity. Its capacity to damage critical services, seize control of businesses, and wreak havoc on people's lives serves as a sobering reminder of the value of solid cybersecurity.

People and companies can better protect themselves against the constant threat of ransomware attacks by being educated, putting precautionary measures into place, and having a well-thought-out incident response strategy in place. Only by remaining vigilant and working together can we hope to remain one step ahead of these cybercriminals as the fight against BlackCat and similar threats continues.

Author Caroline Preisler

Caroline Preisler

Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.

View all posts by Caroline Preisler

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