FIN11 cybercrime group is behind recent wave of attacks on FTA servers

Pierluigi Paganini February 23, 2021

FireEye experts linked a series of attacks targeting Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) servers to the cybercrime group UNC2546, aka FIN11.

Security experts from FireEye linked a series of cyber attacks against organizations running Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) servers to the cybercrime group UNC2546, aka FIN11.

“Starting in mid-December 2020, malicious actors that Mandiant tracks as UNC2546 exploited multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in Accellion’s legacy File Transfer Appliance (FTA) to install a newly discovered web shell named DEWMODE.” reported FireEye. “The motivation of UNC2546 was not immediately apparent, but starting in late January 2021, several organizations that had been impacted by UNC2546 in the prior month began receiving extortion emails from actors threatening to publish stolen data on the “CL0P^_- LEAKS” .onion website. Some of the published victim data appears to have been stolen using the DEWMODE web shell.”

The wave of attacks began in mid-December 2020, threat actors exploited multiple zero-day vulnerabilities in the Accellion File Transfer Appliance (FTA) software to deploy a shell dubbed DEWMODE on the target networks.

The attackers exfiltrate sensitive data from the target systems and then published it on the CLOP ransomware gang’s leak site.

It has been estimated that the group has targeted approximately 100 companies across the world between December and January. 

“Accellion does not access the information that its customers transmit via FTA. Following the attack, however, Accellion has worked at many customers’ request to review their FTA logs to help understand whether and to what extent the customer might have been affected. As a result, Accellion has identified two distinct groups of affected FTA customers based on initial forensics. Out of approximately 300 total FTA clients, fewer than 100 were victims of the attack. Within this group, fewer than 25 appear to have suffered significant data theft. Within this group, fewer than 25 appear to have suffered significant data theft.” reads the press release published by Accellion.

“These exploits apply exclusively to Accellion FTA clients: neither kiteworks nor Accellion the company were subject to these attacks.”

Once compromised the victims’ network, FIN11 hackers demanded the payment of a ransom in Bitcoin to avoid the leak of information on the leak site.

fin11 ransom note

The researchers are tracking two separate clusters of activities. The first cluster tracked as UNC2546 is related to the exploitation of the zero-day flaws in Accellion FTA software and data exfiltration from targeted organizations running the legacy FTA products. The second cluster, tracked as UNC2582, is related to the subsequent extortion activity.

“We have identified overlaps between UNC2582, UNC2546, and prior FIN11 operations, and we will continue to evaluate the relationships between these clusters of activity.” continues FireEye. 

FireEye pointed out that despite FIN11 hackers are publishing data from Accellion FTA customers on the Clop ransomware leak site, they did not encrypt systems on the compromised networks.

In response to the wave of attacks, the vendor has released multiple security patches to address the vulnerabilities exploited by the hackers. The company is also going to retire legacy FTA server software by April 30, 2021.

Accellion is urging customers to update to the Kiteworks product, which replaces FTA server.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, FIN11)

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