In 2021, the exclusive Russian cybercrime forum Mazafaka was hacked. The leaked user database shows one of the forum’s founders was an attorney who advised Russia’s top hackers on the legal risks of their work, and what to do if they got caught. A review of this user’s hacker identities shows that during his time on the forums he served as an officer in the special forces of the GRU, the foreign military intelligence agency of the Russian Federation.
Costa Rica’s national health service was hacked sometime earlier this morning by a Russian ransomware group known as Hive. The intrusion comes just weeks after Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves declared a state of emergency in response to a data ransom attack from a different Russian ransomware gang — Conti. Ransomware experts say there is good reason to believe the same cybercriminals are behind both attacks, and that Hive has been helping Conti rebrand and evade international sanctions targeting extortion payouts to cybercriminals operating in Russia.
Faced with a brain drain of smart people fleeing the country following its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Federation is floating a new strategy to address a worsening shortage of qualified information technology experts: Forcing tech-savvy people within the nation’s prison population to perform low-cost IT work for domestic companies.
Researchers are tracking a number of open-source “protestware” projects on GitHub that have recently altered their code to display “Stand with Ukraine” messages for users, or basic facts about the carnage in Ukraine. The group also is tracking several code packages that were recently modified to erase files on computers that appear to be coming from Russian or Belarusian Internet addresses.
Lumen Technologies, an American company that operates one of the largest Internet backbones and carries a significant percentage of the world’s Internet traffic, said today it will stop routing traffic for organizations based in Russia. Lumen’s decision comes just days after a similar exit by backbone provider Cogent, and amid a news media crackdown in Russia that has already left millions of Russians in the dark about what is really going on with their president’s war in Ukraine.
Three stories here last week pored over several years’ worth of internal chat records stolen from the Conti ransomware group, the most profitable ransomware gang in operation today. The candid messages revealed how Conti evaded law enforcement and intelligence agencies, what it was like on a typical day at the Conti office, and how Conti secured the digital weaponry used in their attacks. This final post on the Conti conversations explores different schemes that Conti pursued to invest in and steal cryptocurrencies.
Part I of this series examined newly-leaked internal chats from the Conti ransomware group, and how the crime gang dealt with its own internal breaches. Part II explored what it’s like to be an employee of Conti’s sprawling organization. Today’s Part III looks at how Conti abused a panoply of popular commercial security services to undermine the security of their targets, as well as how the team’s leaders strategized for the upper hand in ransom negotiations with victims.