Sophos published another report on a recently revealed association between the Mount Locker ransomware group and a new group, called "Astro Locker Team." Sophos as of late recognized ransomware targeting an organization’s unprotected machines that had all the hallmarks of Mount Locker ransomware. However, when they followed the link in the ransom note to the attacker's chat/support site, Sophos incident responders found themselves faced with a near-unknown group calling themselves "AstroLocker Team" or "Astro Locker Team." Astro Locker has all the earmarks of being a new ransomware family – however, appearances can be beguiling.
When comparing the Astro Locker leak site with the Mount Locker leak site, investigators noticed that all five of the organizations listed on the Astro Locker site were likewise listed as victims on the Mount Locker site. Delving in further, the size of the information leaks on each of the five matched and shared some of the same links to the spilled information. Taking a gander at the matching links all the more intently, Sophos experts saw one final association: a portion of the spilled information linked on the Mount Locker site was being facilitated on the Astro Locker onion site: http[:]//anewset****.onion.
“In recent incidents where Sophos experts investigated and neutralized an active Mount Locker attack, we noticed various techniques that suggest these attackers are not as sophisticated as other ransomware groups like Ryuk, REvil and DoppelPaymer,” said Peter Mackenzie, manager of Sophos’s Rapid Response team. “It is possible that the Mount Locker group wants to rebrand themselves to create a new and more professional image, or it could be an attempt to kickstart a true ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) program. Regardless, if any organizations become a victim of Astro Locker in the future, they should investigate the TTPs of both Mount Locker and Astro Locker.”
Mackenzie contended that Mount Locker could be utilizing the Astro name to pretend the group has a significant new associate for its new RaaS program, or it very well might be a legitimate deal intended to speed up its change to turning into a RaaS operation.
“Branding is a powerful force for ransomware groups. Good branding can come from a single threat group being skilled at hitting high-value targets and avoiding detection — such as DoppelPaymer — or by running a successful RaaS network — like Sodinokibi or Egregor. Powerful branding with ransomware groups can strike fear in targets and lead to a higher likelihood of pay-outs,” he concluded.