$1 Million Paid to Erebus Ransomware by South Korea Company NAYANA

$1 Million Paid to Erebus Ransomware by South Korea Company NAYANA

While the WannaCry ransomware infection demanded $300 and gathered around $150 thousand dollars in total, the creators of Erebus ransomware have gotten away with $1 million dollars after infecting a server of the South Korea company NAYANA, which is a web hosting provider. The company did not have a choice but to pay the ransom, because their Linux servers were affected by a new version of the virus, coded specifically for web servers.

Erebus Ransomware Heist – More Details On the Attack

On June 12, the company NAYANA, based in South Korea has shared information that they are being extorted for the insane amount of 550 BTC (Bitcoin). This sum equaled to around $1.6 million dollars at the time of the attack. Fortunately, the ransom was up for negotiation and since time was pressuring NAYANA, they managed to negotiate the ransom price and payed a total of two payments equaling to $1.01 million dollars. After the payment has completed, the company was sent the so called “Erebus Decryptor” which allowed them to begin restoring their files. Despite paying the ransom, the company is still experiencing issues with some of the encrypted files for which they are likely to make a third payment in the future.

Erebus ransomware which was initially detected back in the end of the year 2016 was reported to infect computers via the RIG Exploit Kit for Windows. It also used UAC bypass type of attack and used to demand the sum of around 0.85 BitCoin. In comparison to this, the new version of the virus has been modified to work on Linux. It still uses a .txt file to notify the victims. The file is named _DECRYPT_FILE.txt and it has the following message:

Your documents, photos, databases, important files have been encrypted!
If you modify any file, it may cause make you cannot decrypt!!!!
To decrypt your files please visit the following website:
{TOR web links}
If the above address will be unable to open or very slow, follow these steps:

1. Download and install the tor browser:
{download URL}
2.After successful installation, run the browser, waiting to initialize.
3.In the address bar enter:
{TOR url}
Machine ID:
{Unique ID}

When the web-page itself is visited, it has a further ransom note that has a unique public key, which is to be used with the decryptor to restore the files after a payment has been made. The decryptor is named Erebus Decryptor and the software can be only downloaded after the victim has paid as TrendLabs report:

How Did The Attack Happen?

According to experts(http://blog.trendmicro.com/trendlabs-security-intelligence/erebus-resurfaces-as-linux-ransomware/), the attack vector used some specially designed Linux exploits. Since NAYANA’s site is Linux kernel-based, the attackers may have done their homework. This means that they may have discovered a security flaw which grants them administrative access which can in it’s turn give them the ability to install the recoded Erebus ransomware on the servers. Another vulnerabilities which the attackers may have taken advantage of are Apache vulnerabilities. The servers of NAYANA were 1.3 version of Apache which is from the year 2006. And PHP exploits as well as Apache bugs are nothing new and unfamiliar in the underground web.

What Happened When Erebus Ransomware Attacked?

After the Erebus virus has infected the servers, it uses a very similar encryption ciphers to those used by:

The algorithms used by Erebus to render the files corrupt are:

  • AES to encrypt the files and generate a unique decryption key.
  • RSA-2048 bit to encrypt the AES key.
  • RC4 to encrypt data of the files in 500k blocks, generating random key.

The bottom line for this encryption is that it is possibly the strongest stable combination known in the public so far, if coded without flaws. The virus was also configured to encrypt specific file types, to be specific – 433 different types. The version which attacked the South Korean hosting provider however, was configured to encrypt web servers and the data that is saved in them. This is why it targeted primarily the var/www/ directory, log files and other data.

Experts warn of more attacks against organization to be coming by the late summer of 2017 and they strongly suggest taking the appropriate measures to secure web servers and to monitor them and conduct inspections often.


Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav has been covering the latest malware, software and newest tech developments at SensorsTechForum for 3 years now. He started out as a network administrator. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for discovery of new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management and then Network Administration, he found his passion within cybersecrurity and is a strong believer in basic education of every user towards online safety.

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