Threat Signal Report

Joint CyberSecurity Advisory Alert BlackMatter Ransomware (AA21-291A)

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Today, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) issued a joint advisory Alert (AA21-291A) on the BlackMatter Ransomware.

According to the alert, BlackMatter is a possible rebrand of DarkSide, which was responsible for the attack on Colonial Pipeline back in May 2021. As of July, BlackMatter was observed targeting critical infrastructure entities in the United States. BlackMatter threat actors have collected over $15 Million (USD) in various forms of cryptocurrency over the years according to the alert. This advisory provides insight into the BlackMatter TTPs and the mitigations steps recommended to defend against it.

What is BlackMatter Ransomware?
Black Matter is a Ransomware as a Service (RaaS). Ransomware as a Service allows threat actors who lack the knowledge of how to create ransomware themselves to simply purchase the service. Essentially, threat actors will conduct reconnaissance and infiltrate a target network, which then allows for the deployment of ransomware. Once the ransomware process is complete, the RaaS authors will receive a specific payout depending on set terms, agreed upon in advance.

What does FortiGuard Labs Know about BlackMatter Ransomware/RaaS?
The BlackMatter gang made a couple of posts to hacking forums in late July. One post asked to purchase access to corporate networks in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK from cyber criminals and potentially corporate insiders for anywhere from $3,000 to $100,000. The targets must have minimum revenues of $100,000,000, 500 to 15,000 machines in the network, and must be previously untouched by other ransomware groups. In addition, BlackMatter is not willing to purchase access to healthcare and governmental organizations.

Other posts state the rules they follow and who they are. Their rules are simple: they do not attack hospitals, critical infrastructures (power plants, water treatment facilities, pipelines and oil refineries), defense industry, non-profit organizations and the government sector. If companies who belong to the no-attack categories are infected with BlackMatter, the gang will offer free decryption capabilities as a sign of good will. Other ransomware gangs such as REvil and DarkSide have the same rules, but some of their affiliates did not abide by their respective rules.

What Protections are Available for this Latest Joint Advisory?
Customers with the latest AV definitions are protected by the following signature:


For further historical details about BlackMatter, please refer to our August 11 Threat Signal, which can be found here.


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