Zero-day attackers deliver a double dose of ransomware—no clicking required

Screenshot of ransomware warning.

Enlarge (credit: Cisco Talos)

Attackers have been actively exploiting a critical zero-day vulnerability in the widely used Oracle WebLogic server to install ransomware, with no clicking or other interaction necessary on the part of end users, researchers from Cisco Talos said on Tuesday.

The vulnerability and working exploit code first became public two weeks ago on the Chinese National Vulnerability Database, according to researchers from the security educational group SANS ISC, who warned that the vulnerability was under active attack. The vulnerability is easy to exploit and gives attackers the ability to execute code of their choice on cloud servers. Because of their power, bandwidth, and use in high-security cloud environments, these servers are considered high-value targets. The disclosure prompted Oracle to release an emergency patch on Friday.

On Tuesday, researchers with Cisco Talos said CVE-2019-2725, as the vulnerability has been indexed, has been under active exploit since at least April 21. Starting last Thursday—a day before Oracle patched the zero-day vulnerability, attackers started using the exploits in a campaign to install “Sodinokibi,” a new piece of ransomware. In addition to encrypting valuable data on infected computers, the malicious program attempts to destroy shadow copy backups to prevent targets from simply restoring the lost data. Oddly enough, about eight hours after infection, the attackers exploited the same vulnerability to install a different piece of ransomware known as GandCrab.

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