The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted the country’s telecommunications community about the activities of cybercriminals who have perfected a New Year scheme to deliver ransomware to targeted organizational networks.
The new ransomware uncovered by security experts has been categorised, by the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team’s (ngCERT) advisory released over the weekend, as high-risk and critical.
According to the ngCERT advisory contained in a statement issued on Saturday, January 15, 2022, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, director, Public Affairs at NCC, the criminal group is said to have been mailing out (BadUSB) USB thumb drives to many organisations in the hope that recipients will plug them into their PCs and install the ransomware on their networks.
While businesses are being targeted, criminals could soon begin sending infected USB drives to individuals.
Describing how the cybercrime group runs the ransomeware, the ngCERT advisory says the USB drives contain so-called ‘BadUSB’ attacks.
The BadUSB exploits the USB standards versatility and allows an attacker to reprogram a USB drive to emulate a keyboard to create keystrokes and commands on a computer. It then installs malware prior to the operating system booting, or spoofs a network card to redirect traffic.
Numerous attack tools are also installed in the process that allows for exploitation of personal computers (PCs), lateral movement across a network, and installation of additional malware. The tools were used to deploy multiple ransomware strains, including BlackBatter and REvil.
According to ngCERT, the attack has been seen in the US where the USB drives were sent in the mail through the Postal Service and Parcel Service.
One type contained a message impersonating the US Department of Health and Human Services and claimed to be a COVID-19 warning. Other malicious USBs were sent in the post with a gift card claiming to be from Amazon.
However, ngCERT has offered recommendations that will enable corporate and individual networks to mitigate the impact of this new cyber-attack and be protected from the ransomware.
These recommendations include a call on individuals and organisations not to insert USB drives from unknown sources, even if they’re addressed to you or your organization.
In addition, if the USB drive comes from a company or a person one is not familiar with and trusts, it is recommended that one contacts the source to confirm they actually sent the USB drive.
Finally, ngCERT has advised Information and Communication Technology as well as other Internet users to report any incident of system compromises to ngCERT via email@example.com, for technical assistance.