SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report

By Shannon Williams
Fri 20 May 2022

A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022, with the Conti ransomware group exploiting most of those vulnerabilities. 

Ivanti has announced the results of the Ransomware Index Report Q1 2022 that it conducted with Cyber Security Works, a Certifying Numbering Authority (CNA) and Cyware, a provider of the technology platform to build Cyber Fusion Centres. 

The report uncovered 22 new vulnerabilities tied to ransomware (bringing the total to 310) and connected Conti, a prolific ransomware group that pledged support for the Russian government following the invasion of Ukraine, to 19 of those new vulnerabilities.

The report also revealed a 7.5 per cent increase in APT groups associated with ransomware, a 6.8 per cent increase in actively exploited and trending vulnerabilities and a 2.5 per cent increase in ransomware families. To further break down those numbers, the analysis revealed that three new APT groups (Exotic Lily, APT 35, DEV-0401) started using ransomware to attack their targets, 10 new active and trending vulnerabilities became associated with ransomware (bringing the total to 157) and four new ransomware families (AvosLocker, Karma, BlackCat, Night Sky) became active in Q1 2022.

Additionally, the report revealed that ransomware operators continued to weaponise vulnerabilities faster than ever before and target those that create maximum disruption and impact. This increased sophistication by ransomware groups has resulted in vulnerabilities being exploited within eight days of patches being released by vendors. 

It also means that any minor laxity in security measures by third-party vendors and organisations is sufficient for ransomware groups to enter and infiltrate vulnerable networks. To make matters worse, some of the most popular scanners are not detecting several key ransomware vulnerabilities. 

The research revealed that over 3.5 per cent of ransomware vulnerabilities are being missed, exposing organisations to grave risks.

"The fact that scanners are not detecting critical ransomware vulnerabilities is a huge problem for organisations," says Aaron Sandeen, CEO of Cyber Security Works. 

"CSW experts are continuously tracking this as a part of our research and analysis. The good news is that in this quarter, we saw the number coming down. This means that scanner companies are taking this seriously," he says. 

"That said, there are still 11 ransomware vulnerabilities that the scanners are not detecting where five are rated critical and associated with notorious ransomware gangs like Ryuk, Petya and Locky."

Further handicapping security and IT teams is the fact that gaps exist within the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), the Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification (CAPEC) list by The MITRE Corporation and the Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEVs) catalogue by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The report revealed that the NVD is missing Common Weakness Enumerations (CWEs) for 61 vulnerabilities, while the CAPEC list is missing CWEs for 87 vulnerabilities. And on average, a ransomware vulnerability is added to the NVD a week after being disclosed by a vendor. 

At the same time, 169 vulnerabilities with ransomware associations have yet to be added to the CISA KEV list. Meanwhile, hackers worldwide are actively targeting 100 of these vulnerabilities, scouting organisations for one unpatched instance to exploit.

Srinivas Mukkamala, senior vice president & general manager of security products at Ivanti, adds, "Threat actors are increasingly targeting flaws in cyber hygiene, including legacy vulnerability management processes. 

"Today, many security and IT teams struggle to identify the real-world risks that vulnerabilities pose and therefore improperly prioritise vulnerabilities for remediation," he says.

"For example, many only patch new vulnerabilities or those that have been disclosed in the NVD. Others only use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) to score and prioritise vulnerabilities. 

"To better protect organisations against cyberattacks, security and IT teams need to adopt a risk-based approach to vulnerability management. This requires AI-based technology that can identify enterprise exposures and active threats, provide early warnings of vulnerability weaponisation, predict attacks and prioritise remediation activities."

The report also analysed 56 vendors that supply healthcare applications, medical devices and hardware used in hospitals and healthcare centres and uncovered 624 unique vulnerabilities in their products. Forty of those vulnerabilities have public exploits and two vulnerabilities (CVE-2020-0601 and CVE-2021-34527) are associated with four ransomware operators (BigBossHorse, Cerber, Conti and Vice Society). Unfortunately, this could indicate that the healthcare industry may be targeted more aggressively by ransomware attacks in the coming months.

Anuj Goel, co-founder and CEO at Cyware, says, "Ransomware is now one of the most predominant attack vectors affecting the bottom line of organisations globally. 

"The Q1 report underscores the fact with new numbers that show an increase in the number of ransomware vulnerabilities and the APTs using ransomware," he says. 

"However, one of the major concerns that has surfaced is the lack of complete threat visibility for security teams owing to cluttered threat intelligence available across sources.

"If security teams have to mitigate ransomware attacks proactively, they must tie their patch and vulnerability response to a centralised threat intelligence management workflow that drives complete visibility into the shape-shifting ransomware attack vectors through multi-source intelligence ingestion, correlation and security actioning."

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Microsoft
Digital innovation could shape the future of NZ - Microsoft
With cloud technologies available to more people around the world than ever before, it is not only businesses who will benefit from using them.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Phishing
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Revenue
Datacom announces revenue of $1.45 billion, fall in profit
Growing market pressures and border closures saw Datacom place increased focus on talent development initiatives for both existing and future employees.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Unknown connections: How safe is public WiFi in Aotearoa?
If it's not your own household WiFi, then who has control of your data and is your connection actually safe?
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Microsoft
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.